The Accompanist

Nina Berberova, Author Atheneum Books $14.95 (94p) ISBN 978-0-689-11989-7
Written in 1936 and published here for the first time, this slender novel is an elegant exposition of Russian temperament. The accompanist of the title is Sonechka, an 18-year-old girl, talented but impoverished and self-deprecating by reason of her lowly origin. She is abruptly lifted from her bleak life in St. Petersburg when a famous soprano, Maria Travin, employs her as a traveling companion. The ambitious singer and her successful bourgeois husband are the center of a coterie that flows with them from Moscow to Paris in 1920, and Sonechka becomes privy to their sophisticated relationships. A confidante to Maria and yet ever watchful, insecure and apart, Sonechka internalizes her distress with life in postwar Russia and harbors plans for revenge on the affluent, beautiful diva by exposing her extramarital affair. The resolution of her plan comes about in an unexpected manner, one that is entirely out of Sonechka's control but that frees her as, in a different way, it frees the implacable diva. Exquisitely spare, the first-person narrative of this novella has a subdued intensity. Russian-born Berberova lives in New Jersey, where she was professor of Russian literature at Princeton. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Paperback - 96 pages - 978-0-8112-1534-3
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