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This wonderful translation (by Eugene Alper) of a hundred-year-old biography by Anton Pavlovich’s younger brother, secretary and assistant, offers uncommon first-hand insight into family dynamics and history as well as background on some of Chekhov’s literary works. But the perspective of a sibling, the brother of a famous man, is intriguing enough in its own right, and one cannot help grazing this fertile biography in search of telling asides and tender criticisms, which are plentiful. It helps that Mikhail has something of his brother’s cutting eye for detail, and that he does not stint on his opinions, be it on an ill-chosen summer cottage or on “The Beautiful Lika” who long sought the writer’s affection.
Reviewed in Russian Life: Jan/Feb 2010