Usually, reading a biographical book is not as enjoyable and exciting as this impressive one by Andrew D. Kaufman. The Gambler Wife is the life story of a brilliant woman who played a huge role in her husband’s writing career, their love story marking the Russian literary history of the 19th century. The interesting life of Anna Snitkina, a successful Russian feminist, and her husband Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the famous writer of all time, will be remembered for many decades.
In this book, Kaufman traces the life of Anna Snitkina, from her childhood as an educated and ambitious young girl who likes reading and storytelling, until she met her most favorite writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and worked with him as a stenographer.
The author, by referring to Anna’s diaries and many other historical sources, depicts Anna Snitkina as an independent woman with feminist ideals, whose dream is to make her own life and fulfils her wishes. Moreover, Anna had a very remarkable personality that made her a model for her society.
Kaufman shows many aspects of her life, especially in her career as a woman who was dedicated to her husband’s literary work, and that’s when Dostoyevsky began to admire her as being such a lovely person and a good listener to his thoughts and his past experiences. In turn, she was amazed by his ideas, yet he was a lonely and desperate man. However, his entire life changed as soon as he married Anna, when their relationship, which Kaufman called “dynamic,” faced many ups and downs through their journey of writing and publishing what have become the greatest novels of a Russian legacy.
The Gambler Wife is a well constructed book, bringing along some really interesting facts about two unforgettable historical figures in a very simple way without the usual boring details that biographical books often include. Also, it gives the reader an amount of knowledge about Russia’s history and society at that time.
This fascinating biography is recommended for certain to any reader who would like to get into a historical love story, which really was one of a kind, and to all of those who love Russian literature and who want to know more about the woman who was behind Dostoyevsky’s life achievements.
The Gambler Wife by Andrew D. Kaufman. Riverhead Books, August 2021.
Reviewer bio: I’m a Lebanese writer and translator. I’m an English major undergraduate. I also studied two years of Journalism. I’m fluent in French, Arabic and English, and to a certain degree Greek language.
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