After a slow start, this story becomes totally engrossing, as the reader learns to care about the "Former Person" of the title, and his endeavor to retain his humanity while trapped in a heartless system. Anyone who persists past the first few chapters will enjoy an inspiring reading experience, while rooting for the good guy....Continua
I borrowed this novel first on June 2, 2017 and started reading around June 4 but I only read up to p.251 on the due date on June 16. On one hand, it's not a novel that makes you not want to put it down right from the beginning; on the other hand, I seem to have needed to check dictionary quite frequently ! I had to wait until July 7 before I could borrow and read it again. My reading during the second loan period was at considerably faster pace as I've got used to the author's writing and vocabularies. It's a rather unusual novel in that most of the stories happened inside the Metropol Hotel related to the protagonist, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov who was also called a Former Person more than one time in this novel. The actual content of the stories is all over the world, such as Russia, Europe and USA.
I believe the "willowy woman" at the end (p.462, the last line/sentence) of the novel is the actress Anna Urbanova. The author lets the readers speculate about this woman and what they'll do after their rendezvous in the Nizhny Novgorod Province. The big escape of Sofia and the Count mastermined by the Count is probably the most surprising and interesting bit of the novel. We thought that the Count had gone to Finland and his meeting this willowy woman at the last page is a bit strange and unexpected. Kind of an awkward ending.
Apart from the unusual circumstance of having happened all inside a hotel, I don't really find this novel really that spectacular and I don't completely understand why this novel has been so popular for a long time (33 weeks in the New York Times' Best Sellers list so far). The main characters that I like the most are the Count, Nina and Sofia but it's them who have made this novel bearable. Obviously, there was the always changing Russian historical background over those years (1922 to 1954) when the Count was stuck inside the Metropol Hotel. The author's writing style doesn't make me take the history seriously. It may be a kind of humor such that the readers could quite easily bear the weight of the tumultuous era or lightness of being. Somehow, for me, probably because of that, I also don't take the novel too seriously. Throughout the novel, the appeal has been to see what will eventually happen to the Count and I have enjoyed it. But the general slow pace hasn't made this novel particularly exciting for me....Continua