What if Anton Chekhov, undisputed master of the short story, actually wrote a novel—and the manuscript still existed?

Introducing: “The Summer Guest”

This tantalizing possibility drives The Summer Guest, a spellbinding narrative that draws together, across two centuries, the lives of three women through the discovery of a diary.

During the long, hot summer of 1888, an extraordinary friendship blossoms between Anton Chekhov and Zinaida Lintvaryova, a young doctor. Recently blinded by illness, Zinaida has retreated to her family’s estate in the lush countryside of Eastern Ukraine, where she is keeping a diary to record her memories of her earlier life. But when the Chekhov family arrives to spend the summer at a dacha on the estate, and she meets the middle son Anton Pavlovich, her quiet existence is transformed by the connection they share. What begins as a journal kept simply to pass the time becomes an intimate, introspective narrative of Zinaida’s singular relationship with this doctor and writer of growing fame. Read more –>
the summer house

What they’re saying about The Summer Guest.

Alison Anderson has brought her people, both real and imagined, past and present, into shimmering life. It may be an illusion, but it’s one of those magical works of fiction that helps us to better see the truth.

Emerald City Book Review, June 8, 2016

The book blurs the line between firsthand experience and imagining worlds one cannot know, either because of blindness or the removals of time and geography, and renders authentic and memorable portraits of its three heroines.

New York Times Book Review, June 19, 2016

Luminous…. Intriguing…. Drawn with empathy and clarity…. Many facts of Chekhov’s life and career are deftly folded into “The Summer Guest.” Moreover, Anderson cannily evokes the charm, witty skepticism and compassion that underpins his writing…. It is the bittersweet tone and elegantly entwined portraits of three remarkable women that make “The Summer Guest” so transporting — and make you want to read more Chekhov.

Misha Berson, Seattle Times, June 8, 2016

Anderson, herself a translator (of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, 2008, among other things) and author of two novels (Darwin’s Wink, 2004, etc.), has written a gorgeous elegy to a great Russian writer. Her Chekhov is a witty and mercurial but gentle and kind man who spends long afternoons with Zina, discussing everything from his writing (which he insists he only engages in to put “bread on the table”) to Zina’s fear of dying. But Chekhov forms only one facet of this remarkable novel, which is also a moving account of three women separated by time, nationality, and geography and how each comes to terms with her own life…An exceptional novel about the transcendent possibilities of literature, friendship, and contemplation.

Kirkus, March 15, 2016 (Starred review)

“subtle and haunting…. The most piercing story belongs to the diary’s author, Zinaida Lintvaryova, or Zina, trapped by blindness and a deepening illness at her family home of Luka, on the river Pysol, in the year 1888, who finds reprieve in her notable guest, also a doctor, on the cusp on literary stardom. Mournful and meditative, the diary’s bittersweet passages on Zina’s illness and darkened life are punctuated by lively exchanges with the charming and ambitious Chekhov. The novel is deeply literary in its attention to the work of writing and translation, but also political in its awareness of how Russian-Ukrainian relations have impact on the lives of Anderson’s heroines (both the historical and present ones). Ardent Chekhov fans will appreciate a brief immersion in the world he must have known for two summers, while readers of any stamp can enjoy the melancholy beauty of a vanished world and the surprise twist that, at the end, offers what all three characters have been searching for—“something completely unexpected and equally precious: another way of seeing the world.”

Publishers’ Weekly, March 28, 2016

The interplay between past and present—between the events described in the diary as against the hopes of publisher and translator—draws readers into the novel and enables them to believe they have actually met the great playwright. The character Chekhov’s take on “so-called ladies’ novels” and romantic love is especially illuminating. VERDICT Anderson, a noted translator responsible for the English version of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, has a sure touch in dealing with her material. An impressive work, highly recommended to lovers of literary fiction.

Library Journal, April 2016

This alluring and deceptively ingenuous novel demands close consideration from its readers, contains an internal mystery, and packs a heartbreakingly lovely emotional punch.

Booklist, March 1, 2016 (Starred Review)

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