Didn't read this, sorry - the last month has been so busy that I kept forgetting about the book, also am knee-deep in a huge Iain M Banks at the moment which is excellent so am distracted by that. Anyway, I had a quick skim but wasn't drawn in enough to actually read, so I don't have an opinion.
I found the first story easier to read, and more enjoyable. The problem for me with the second one was the names....I had to keep checking back to work out who everyone was., and this prevented it from flowing as I read it.
It was a nice choice though, and as is often the case with the bookswap, a book I would not have read any other way, so thanks JenniL for picking it.
Agree that this was a great choice - and reminded me how much I enjoy short stories despite thinking I won't ! I loved the first one; I took it to bed wanting an early night and read it all immediately; it was just such a good read, the characters were really well written I felt. The second story was very good as well, again (there seems to be a bit of war time theme with this book swap club!) it described a period of history that I am enjoying (if that's the right word) learning more about.
I really enjoyed this book too. While they were both very well-written, I definitely enjoyed the second story more - it's not a period in time that I know much about and I thought it was just beautiful. The first one was just too tense for me to really enjoy it, and I found it more difficult to identify with the characters. Like Lightshines said, I really wanted to know what happened next!
I've read 'Suite Francaise' so was interested to read this book. I am not a big fan of short stories, I find them unsatisfying and to a certain extent these were just the same. I wanted to know why Antoinette's mother was so bitter and twisted, what happened after the failed Ball? Similarly with the 'First Snows of Autumn' - what were the boys experiences away at war, how did the family eventually fare in Paris.
I enjoyed the first story more than the 2nd because in a way it was easier to identify with - having been a teenage girl and now being the mother of one! But I think the second story was probably better written in that although it didn't have a complex plot, the central character seemed richer to me.
So, definitely not a choice I would have made, but well-written and good way to spend a couple of hours. Thanks, JenniL
Read in record time as I just couldn't put it down. With hindsight I wish I'd had the self control to pause for a few days after the first story before starting the second to make the most of it.
My favourite was the first story, loved the characterisation. Amazing that in so few pages there is so much clarity of character without becoming just a caricature. And I thought it captured some of the agonies of being adolescent in a way that superseded the specific cultural context, although the translator's note was useful for filling in the context.
I struggled slightly to keep track of all the characters in the second story and adjust to the difference in pace, although I suspect neither of those would have been so tricky if I hadn't rushed straight onto it! Despite studying the Bolshevik Revolution though, I'd never really thought much about the personal implications for the surviving White Russians and where they went, so it was fascinating to see the traumas of making a cultural transition and practical adjustments for them.