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The Tolstoy Estate

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  236 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Epic in scope, ambitious and astonishingly good, The Tolstoy Estate proclaims Steven Conte as one of Australia's finest writers.

From the winner of the inaugural Prime Minister's Literary Award, Steven Conte, comes a powerful, densely rich and deeply affecting novel of love, war and literature

'Grave, moving, engaging ... full of the flash and fire of dramatic incident, but
ebook, 416 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by 4th Estate
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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The atmospheric cover of this book drew me into reading it and it is certainly very evocative of the time and place at the centre of this wonderful novel.

In November 1941, a German medial unit was sent to find buildings suitable for setting up a field hospital close to the front near Tula, which the German army was attempting to take in push towards Moscow. They choose Yasnaya Polyana, the country estate of Leo Tolstoy, which had been converted to a museum in honor of Tolstoy, much to the disgus
Laura Tenfingers
This was a really absorbing read about a German army surgeon during the German invasion of Russia during WWII. His battalion stumbles upon and commandeers Leo Tolstoy's estate which has become a museum and the story references War and Peace all along the way. Having not read War and Peace didn't seem to detract from this book, but I imagine there would be more depth to it had I read that previously.

There is a lot about what daily life at the front was like in a medical unit and it was fascinatin
Cass Moriarty
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My advanced copy of The Tolstoy Estate (Fourth Estate Harper Collins 2020) arrived with this emblazoned on the cover: ‘A Novel for People Who Still Believe in the Saving Grace of Literature in Dark Times’. We are certainly in dark times now in this Covid world, and the novel is set in the dark times of World War Two, but as promised, this story is like a blessing, a saving grace, a tale of love and optimism and hope amidst the absolute terror and trauma of war.
This is the second novel for autho
Theresa Smith
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This was an exceptionally good novel. It’s the story of a German medical unit that has set up their hospital on the grounds of Tolstoy’s Estate in the middle of the Russian winter of 1941. The novel spans six weeks although in a stylistic twist, the author gives us the ending about half way through with the introduction of a series of letters that begin in the 1960s. Surprisingly, this didn’t spoil the tension of all that was still to come. Although, Conte displays such a command of his narrativ ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was instantly attracted to this book for its stunning cover, it being historical fiction and the incorporation of renown literature ie. Tolstoy. This is a very ambitious undertaking and the author does an admirable job in delivering the many finer details of a side of war not often portrayed. Seen through the eyes of a moral forty year old German doctor involved in a very immoral situation, this book is compelling in its exploration of the brutality of war in the harsh Russian winter.

“Are yo
The Book Squirrel
This historical fiction verges into a romance without it taking over the story.
The events revolve around the 6 week German occupation of the estate formerly owned by the author Leo Tolstoy, history which is woven throughout and emerges in dialogue showing the character's love for Tolstoy and his stories and adds a deeper layer to this book. This appreciation for and knowledge of Tolstoy is obviously Conte's own, and he has done a lovely job of communicating that through his characters. Certainl
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Well.....I wasn't expecting that!

I am sure that I am not alone in expecting that, when I open a book, I am going to enjoy it. I certainly don't start a book expecting not to like it. It is, however, a delight when you start a book and know that you are going to LOVE it within a few pages, especially when it is an author you haven't read before. That is what happened with this book.

Dr Paul Bauer is a military doctor who finds himself stationed in Russia during the harsh winter of 1941. The German
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel surprised me in its beauty, in its intensity, in its most skilful characterisations and, above all, in its blending of the horror of war with humanity and a love of literature. Taking place in 1941 over six weeks at a German field hospital set up as the German forces were near defeat in their march towards Moscow, the focus was on German surgeon, Paul Bauer. What was intriguing was that the hospital occupied the former estate of Leo Tolstoy (Yasnaya Polyana), whose presence lingered/ha ...more
Annette Chidzey
Sep 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This account, The Tolstoy Estate, taps into a vein of literary romanticism that I possess in relation to Russian literature and in particular works such as The Brothers Karamazov, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Darkness at Noon to name but a few read many years previously.
The narrative itself is contained to a brief six week period, yet much unfolds in that time period and the setting of the Tolstoy estate is an intriguing location for the action that un
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow! 2021 has begun with a belter. For all those who loved A Gentleman in Moscow I highly recommend this. Winter, 1941 and a German military hospital unit seizes control of the estate of the revered Russian writer. Occupying the site for a mere 6 weeks, we gain rare insight as to what it was like for the medical staff coping with the cold, the isolation, the lack of supplies, the lowering morale and the slaughter that accompanied the doomed Nazi drive towards Moscow. The setting is captured bril ...more
Lorraine Walker
Dec 07, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the story, however feel the letters that are exchanged that start in the middle of the story seem to give a lot away.
Hannah Watson
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A deeply moving and atmospheric read. I could almost feel the freezing winds of Russia and the futility of giving of healthcare in the world war setting.

Your leaders and colleagues are literally going insane. Your conflicted and struggling against the military waves of the German/Russian front.

Yet there’s a little light in the darkest and coldest of places, shining the light on the power of literature and love during war time.
Marianne Locke
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
To be honest I struggled with this, I put it down on numerous occasions and read 3 other books in between.
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Metz entered a room converted into a dormitory and immediately demanded that the windows be opened.
"So tell me," Molineux went on, "how did you get to be so fierce?"
"Breeding. The same way you came by your manners."
Molineux clutched his heart as if shot. "You wound me, madam, most grievously you wound me."
"Not grievously enough."
Molineux chortled, slapped his hands together and turned to Bauer. "Hear that? 'Not grievously enough.' Sensational! We're going to have so much fun here, I'm certain of
Anna Loder
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a moving, powerful story of love, war, literature and longing. Seen through a German surgeon during the doomed Russian invasion in 1941. It showed me so well the horrors of war (made iso look like a holiday) the camaraderie of war, as well as the gift literature is in times of crisis. The connection between the art and the practice. I’ve never read anything like it. Beautifully described “a coil of her auburn hair, escaped from her ushanka, was frantically whipping her face” so poignant. Ab ...more
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Jennifer (JC-S)
Shelves: c21st, australia, war
Steven Conte’s brilliant new novel The Tolstoy Estate recreates the brief WW2 German Occupation of Yasnaya Polyana outside Moscow before they were forced to retreat.

As I said the other day in discussion about historical fiction at Whispering Gums, I know a fair bit about this extraordinary event because in 2012 The Spouse and I had a private tour to Yasnaya Polyana when we were in Russia, and our guide was an expert on the battlefield history of the area, tours of which he more commonly led. So
Jennifer (JC-S)
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘Sir, we’re here.’

In 1941, Germany invaded Russia. In the middle of the Russian winter, a German medical unit establishes a field hospital at Yasnaya Polyana, the former estate of Count Leo Tolstoy. The caretaker of the estate is Katerina Trubetzkaya, a patriotic Soviet woman who is convinced that Germany cannot win this war. The main German character in this novel is Paul Bauer, a skilled surgeon in his forties, widowed.

Katerina Trubetzkaya is surprised to learn that Paul Bauer had read ‘War an
Svetlana Tishchenko
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
'If nothing else, we were contemporaries, I suppose - were all children, equally innocent and vicious, before jointly taking our generation's turn on the stage' - Katerina...

The Tolstoy Estate is very atmospheric book set in Yasnaya Polyana (Leo Tolstoy's museum-estate) during 1941 winter of WWII... Germans against Russians, Russian snow and frost against German invadors. Who better than Tolstoy (War and Peace) would see and know that history repeats itself...

Reading stories set during WWII is s
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
A beautiful love story developed amidst the horrors of war and opposing sides.
Conte does not depict the actual fighting, but details the dreadful conditions endured by the soldiers in the freezing winter conditions, and the difficulties encountered by the medical teams dealing with dreadful injuries.
A surprisingly satisfying ending. Highly recommended.

Epic in scope, ambitious and astonishingly good, The Tolstoy Estate proclaims Steven Conte as one of Australia's finest writers.
From the winner
Beej Jeffery
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Steven Conte’s erudite and graphic portrayal of a significant period during World War Two is an exceptional work. The characters are rich and credentialed, and the staging, deep in a Russian black winter, sent a conspiratorial shiver down my spine. There’s no posturing or surfeit of detail which brings this novel in just under 300 pages. The events play out in a little over six weeks, apart from glimpses into the future courtesy of correspondence between the two main protagonists, giving the sto ...more
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was absorbed from the first page and engaged to the last with this excellent novel from Australian author Steven Conte. Like all good writing, the words served the scope of the story and its memorable characters. I particularly liked the portraits of the men who make up the German medical team. Conte has distilled the characteristics of disparate individuals brought together for a common purpose -the jesting fellow, the elder statesman, the young zealot and so on.
The novel is ambitious in its
Kym Jackson
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Somewhat more middlebrow than it wants to be, I still enjoyed this story. Ultimately though, I think it would have been better not to compare itself to War and Peace because it can only suffer from the comparison; it is really a historical romance novel and never reaches the literary heights to which it aspires. The dialogue is bad, and many times I thought that the Germans sounded more like modern day Australians when they spoke rather than as they would have been. A 3 star book; I gave it 4 st ...more
Denise Newton
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it

The Tolstoy Estate is described as ‘a novel for people who still believe in the saving grace of literature in dark times’ and literature – particularly the work of Leo Tolstoy – is at its heart.
This novel is a celebration of the human heart and the beauty of words and ideas, even when surrounded by the very worst of human behaviour.

The Tolstoy Estate
Steven Conte
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book because as a fan of military non-fiction I thought I would enjoy the setting in Russia during World War. As much as I found the description of a wartime German surgeon operating in the mid-winter in Russia shocking and at times heartbreaking to my surprise this is not what I loved about this book. I won't spoil it but the theme of wanting to return to something you once had but can never have again is what I really liked. The focus on literature and how it endures is ...more
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an extraordinarily good novel. From the very first chapter, you get swept into the story - you're right there, in Russia, in deep winter, on the German front line, you can almost smell the snow in the air and the mud on the ground. Steven Conte is a prize-winning writer, and it shows - this is beautifully written, engrossing - such a powerful story. What surprised me most was how funny the book could be - there's so much dark wit here, between the soldiers as well as in the bookish flirt ...more
Jennifer Cooper
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Looking at the German/Soviet Union clash in WW2 from a very different perspective than the usual blood and gore war story, although there is plenty of that with Paul Bauer being a war surgeon! Part war story, part love story and all written intertwined with Leo Tolstoy's works - mainly War and Peace. It was lovely but not ground breaking, hence losing 1 star. ...more
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this book fascinating. The portrayal of the hospital unit at the Russian front , juxtaposed with the Russian culture and Tolstoy background made for an extra layer of interest. When the first post war chapter happened, I was initially disappointed, but I actually ended up liking the insights that the post war experiences gave. Well worth the read on many levels.
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
* I would like the thank Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book. *

At the height of the war on the Eastern Front , a Wermacht medical unit commandeers the estate of Leo Tolstoy to set up a field hospital, despite the strident objections of the caretaker Katerina Trubetzkaya. Bookish surgeon Paul Bauer seeks to mollify her hatred of the Germans because of his love of the writer.

The occupation proceeds under bitter wintry conditions that the Germans are ill-prepared for,
Helen Katz
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very moving story. I loved the main characters who were well-rounded, though I wasn’t clear on the secondary characters as much. The love story was beautifully woven into a story of conflict - not only of war but of cultures. And Tolstoy himself was also ever-present throughout. Realistic and sad, I can recommend it highly.
Rachel Bourke
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
An intelligent book, I should have read War and Peace and if I had I am sure that I would have understood it a little more. A very interesting book about a German surgeon during WW2. Absorbing and well written. I was fully immersed in the setting and characters. It is not a light read and does require considerable concentration.
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