The Accompanist, by Nina Berberova
by Nina Berberova
Translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz
Collins, 1987; Atheneum, 1988; New Directions, 2003.
A spellbinding, short novel set in post-revolutionary Russia, The Accompanist portrays with extraordinary sensitivity the entangled relationships of three characters. Sonechka is a talented but shy young pianist hired by a beautiful soprano, Maria Nikolaevna, and her devoted, bourgeois husband. Maria is everything Sonechka is not, glamorous, flamboyant. Her voice brings with it "something immortal and indisputable, something which gives reality to the human being's dream of having wings." Doomed to live in her mentor's shadow, the young girl secretly schemes to expose the singer's infidelities. But as she awaits her chance, the diva's husband takes matters into his own hands, bringing events to a surprising resolution. This intense and beautiful little novel, written in 1936, was first published in America almost fifty years after it was written; now available in paperback, it is a wonderfully compelling and crucial addition to Nina Berberova's magnificent oeuvre.
A marvel of perversity. --Elle
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