Book review: The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson


  • The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson
  • Publisher:  Harper Collins
  • Pages:  400
  • Genre:  Literary fiction / historical fiction / biographical
  • Published:  March 8, 2016


During the long, hot summer of 1888, an extraordinary friendship blossoms between Anton Chekhov and Zinaida Lintvaryova, a young doctor. Recently blinded by illness, Zinaida has retreated to her family’s estate in the lush countryside of Eastern Ukraine, where she is keeping a diary to record her memories of her earlier life. But when the Chekhov family arrives to spend the summer at a dacha on the estate, and she meets the middle son Anton Pavlovich, her quiet existence is transformed by the connection they share. What begins as a journal kept simply to pass the time becomes an intimate, introspective narrative of Zinaida’s singular relationship with this doctor and writer of growing fame.

More than a century later, in 2014, the unexpected discovery of this diary represents Katya Kendall’s last chance to save her struggling London publishing house. Zinaida’s description of a gifted young man still coming to terms with his talent offers profound insight into a literary legend, but it also raises a tantalizing question: Did Chekhov, known only as a short story writer and playwright, write a novel over the course of their friendship that has since disappeared? The answer could change history, and finding it proves an irresistible challenge for Ana Harding, the translator Katya hires. Increasingly drawn into Zinaida and Chekhov’s world, Ana is consumed by her desire to find the “lost” book. As she delves deeper into the moving account of two lives changed by a meeting on a warm May night, she discovers that the manuscript is not the only mystery contained within the diary’s pages.

Inspired by the real friendship between Chekhov and the Lintvaryov family, landowners in the Ukraine, The Summer Guest is a masterful and utterly compelling literary novel that breathes life into a vanished world, while exploring the transformative power of art and the complexity of love and friendship.

Buy the book:  Harper Collins   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

9d1d2272-3ed4-45bf-ad2f-1d6891930112Meet the author:  Alison Anderson spent many years in California; she now lives in a Swiss village and works as a literary translator. Her translations include Europa Editions’ The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, and works by Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clézio. She has also written two previous novels and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Translation Fellowship. She has lived in Greece and Croatia, and speaks several European languages, including Russian.

Connect with the author:   Website   


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A testament to friendship, this novel encompasses the lives of three women, a young woman doctor from the 1880’s living in the Ukraine, a Russian émigré living in modern day London and a translator living in France.

The diary of doctor Zinaida Lintvaryova captivates Ana. She  is requested by Katya of Pollyana Press  to translate Zinaida’s diary from Russian into English.  The presence of Anton Pavlovich, a renowned Russian writer and playwright in Zinaida’s diary piques Ana’s curiosity as she continues to translate conversations held between the two.

The gentle prose and Zinaida’s reflections about her own short future and her friendship with Anton Pavlovich draw you into their intimate and sometimes frustrating relationship.

Three different stories with a common thread throughout and a surprising ending will keep you turning the pages until the end of the book.  A lovely combination historical fiction, memoir and literary fiction.

Tour schedule:

Tuesday, May 24th: BookNAround
Wednesday, May 25th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, May 26th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, May 27th: Curling Up by the Fire
Monday, May 30th: Books on the Table
Wednesday, June 1st: Just One More Chapter
Thursday, June 2nd: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Monday, June 6th: Reading Reality
Tuesday, June 7th: A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, June 8th:
Wednesday, June 8th: Emerald City Book Review
Thursday, June 9th: Olduvai Reads
Monday, June 13th: A Book Geek
Monday, June 13th: Reading to Distraction
Wednesday, June 15th: Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, June 16th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Friday, June 17th: I’m Shelf-ish



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