Just as a wise man once said, reading a general fiction book is like eating a five-course meal with dessert afterward. A romance book is like a cone of ice cream enjoyed when no one is looking. Almost all women love reading romance books. They claim reading a romance book offers them some kind of entertainment and escapism. It may sound stereotypical and hackneyed but it is indeed like comfort food. Romance books rarely, if ever make the readers think. While reading a thriller puts them into the high-alert mode and reading literature makes them think, guess, and even underline at times, reading a romance book is a bit like eating snacks while watching their favorite Netflix series. It is unhealthy and unrealistic but it is something that only a few people can resist. Once they have engaged in some, it stirs cravings that eventually push them to do guilty pleasure reading more often.
Russian Romance Books
Writing fictions in Russia has always been a serious business. In Russian society, the great writers are deemed the truth-tellers, the voice of those who are voiceless, and the conscience of a community. One of many notable writers in Russia is Ivan Turgenev. Ivan Turgenev was a poet, playwright, and novelist. He was known for his detailed writings of daily life in 19th century Russia. Even though he has been overshadowed by other contemporaries like Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy, his works remained best of the best.
Ivan Turgenev has written a lot of romance books during his life and all of them are considered acknowledged classic of Russian literature and have stood the test of time. What all of his romance books have in common are a great story, originality, artistic prowess, and the capability to draw the readers into the deep, personal reflection about romance. Below are 3 most romantic books by Ivan Turgenev that are worth to read.
- On the Eve
On the Eve is more like a philosophical tale than romance book though there a lot of romantic aspects in it. The story mainly concerns about the very different lives led by a young Russian girl named Elena Stahov who comes from a comfortable bourgeois family and that of a Bulgarian student and idealist named Dmitri Insarov who determines to sacrifice his life for his country’s freedom. What is interesting about this book is how accurate Turgenev is at expressing Elena’s thoughts. So, there is a chapter that is presented as Elena’s diary and Turgenev gives the readers diary entries of some of the actions that have already taken place, so that, although he has described from the outside what occurred, he still gives us Elena’s feelings at the time of these known events. Not only that, but the readers are also given Elena’s feelings about events not yet told, and in this way, Turgenev apprises the readers of them.
The “Eve” in the title refers to the start of the Crimean war. However, the setting is rural, provincial Russia and the characters are a small circle of close friends.
- First Love
The story explores the complexity of love, its raptures, and straining effects on the heart of an inexperienced young man, Vladimir, who spends his summer in a cottage near the Neskuchni gardens in the outskirts of Moscow.
Just as the title suggests, it is a story about experiencing love for the very first time. There are the rushes of contradictory emotions, the awakening of desire tangled with anxiety, and the loss of the innocence of childhood, and so on. It is complex writing and yet Turgenev was still able to deliver a tale so rich in nuance, detail, and realism that it is almost impossible not to relive the inexplicable state of intoxication that is linked to first love.
Turgenev’s character portrayal is delicately accurate while revealing of gender and class disparities back in the 19th century. For example, Princess Zaskeyin, Vladimir’s object of adoration, may appear capricious and flirtatious at first glance but her condition is actually one attached to her deplorable role as an object of beauty to be possessed, a trophy to be flaunted to attract suitors, and a steady source of income for her impoverished mother. A lot of twists happened in this short story that pretty sure the readers will thoroughly enjoy it.
- Torrents of Spring
Just like many of Turgenev’s books, Torrents of Spring is a framed narrative, told by an older character who retells his past experiences. It is a story of Dmitri Pavlovich Sanin, a young Russian man who travels to Europe. Almost by accident, Sanin saves the life of an Italian boy who happens to be the brother of a beautiful Gemma. Accepting the invitation of this Italian family who made Germany their home, Sanin misses his train and finds himself delaying the continuation of his trip. Sanin is fascinated by Gemma’s family and more importantly bewitched by the innocent and beautiful Gemma. Unfortunately, Gemma is engaged to a rather boring German guy whom Gemma’s mother sees as a good marriage prospect.
This is a book with a number of twists and turns, a bit more eventful than other similar works of Turgenev. First, there is the turbulent falling in love with a young and deeply moral Russian man into a young and beautiful but engaged Italian lady. Second, there is an arrival of a femme fatale, Maria Nikolaevna, who is interested in Sanin. In conclusion, this is a rather unusual book that at times feels like two books morphed into one but it is no less than a masterpiece.
So, those are 3 most romantic books by Ivan Turgenev that are worth to read. If you have engaged in the works of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and are wondering if there is anything else with the same depth and amount of artistic mastery, you should try the books listed above.