Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The Death of Ivan IlyichThe Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

AR Reading Level: 8.8
On the library stacks: Adult fiction

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read Anna Karenina about six years ago and loved it. This is my second Tolstoy and I was thrilled that Melissa recommended it. I was kind of shocked when I realized that it is actually a small little novella and easily read in a day.

Ivan Ilyich is a high-court judge in Russia. He felt his life was simple, peaceful and respectable. As he aged, anything unpleasant in his life (like a nagging wife) was sidelined as climbed social and professional ladders. But when Ivan receives a promotion he feels he more than deserves, he starts to notice a pain in his side and an odd taste in his mouth. Numerous doctors are called in, but it seems none can make an accurate diagnosis. Everyone knows Ivan is dying, but no one seems to want to acknowledge it, least alone Ivan. Eventually, Ivan must face the truth that his days are numbered. Upon review of his relatively short life, he starts to consider that perhaps his priorities were not what they should have been.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It packs an emotional punch and gets to the core of human nature. Tolstoy could have written this book today and it would be just as applicable. It's not a happy story, but one that is guaranteed to make you think and reflect about living life without regret. Definitely recommended!

Source: BookMooch


bermudaonion said...

I'm intimidated by Tolstoy - maybe a novella would be a good way for me to give his work a try.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I've always wanted to read Tolstoy and just never have. Hard to admit given that I have an English degree and took Russian classes in college! This one sounds like a good place to start.
2 Kids and Tired Books

Melissa said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it! I agree: not a happy book, but definitely a thought-provoking one. And sometimes, those are the best kind of books.