The Book of Happiness

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New Directions Publishing, 1999 - Fiction - 205 pages
2 Reviews
The Book of Happiness is one of the outstanding novels the great Russian writer Nina Berberova wrote during the years she lived in Paris, and the most autobiographical. "All Berberova's characters-including Berberova herself-live raw, unfurnished lives, in poverty, on the edge of cities, with little sense of belonging-except in moments of epiphany-to their time and in life itself" (The Observer). Such a character is Vera, the protagonist of The Book of Happiness. She is seen first in Paris where she leads a dreary life tied down by a demanding invalid husband. She is summoned to the scene of a suicide, that of her childhood's boon companion, Sam Adler, whose family left Russia in the early days of the revolution and whom Vera has not seen in many years. His death reduces Vera to a flood of tears and memories of the times before Sam's departure, and thoughts about how her life has gone since. Not a cheerful prospect. Berberova spins the story with a wonderful unsentimental poignancy. The Book of Happiness is the second book from New Directions by this fine and unique writer-one who had an overview of the entire 20th century-from pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg, through exile in Paris, to the United States where she lived for some forty years before her death in 1993.

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User Review  - Paulagraph - LibraryThing

The Book of Happiness, although apparently written in the 1990s, at the end of Berberova’s long life, reads like a modernist novel of the early 20th century. (Both Virginia Woolf and Dorothy ... Read full review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A novel set in Paris in the 1920s, from the late Russian author (1901—93) whose plaintive novellas were collected in The Tattered Cloak (1991) and The Ladies of St. Petersburg (1998). Here ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

Born in 1901 in pre-Revolutionary St. Petersburg, Russia, Nina Berberova emigrated in 1922, living in several European countries before settling in the United States. She wrote frequently for the leading journals and anthologies of the first wave of the Russian emigration. The Italics Are Mine (1969), her autobiography, is an important record of that period.

Marian Schwartz has translated the works of Nina Berberova. She lives in Austin, TX.

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