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Leo Tolstoy

Family Happiness

This book is a collection of three of Leo Tolstoy's short stories, the main one being the title story Family Happiness. If you want to get into reading Tolstoy's work, but find War and Peace somewhat intimidating then this seems like a good place to start.

In the title story Masha and Sergey fall in love, but she is just starting out in life at the age of 17, while he at 36, feels that its time to live a settled life. Is their relationship doomed to failure or can love conquer all? In the second story Master and man the man, Nikita is resigned to whatever life throws at him, while the master is a go-getting businessman, rushing out to make a deal in weather where they should have stayed safely at home. The third story Alyosha the pot also looks at the life of a servant resigned to doing what he is told.

The book also has an extra story Life Expectancy by Holly Goddard Jones, about a teacher having an affair with one of his students. I can see why the publishers would introduce new writers in this way, but personnally I found it rather intrusive.

Getting back to Tolstoy's stories, well they're probably not for those who want a lot of action, but they do give a fascinating insight into a different world, of serfdom and the conflicts between ambition and acceptance of your place in the world.