This review contains quotes from the book.
*Special thanks to Harper Perennial for allowing us to read Alison Anderson’s The Summer Guest.
Alison Anderson writes a moving story about four people whose lives become entwined with each other with The Summer Guest.
During the summer of 1888, Zinaida Lintvaryova moves to her family’s country estate because her health is declining. She plans on spending the summer alone, but the Chekhov family shows up to spend their summer there. Zinaida journals all of her experiences she has at the estate, including the time she spends with the middle Chekhov child, Anton. Anton is a famous literary writer, but he becomes notable to many later on in his life. My favorite part of this story was the way Zinaida wrote about her time spent with Anton. You could tell they made a real connection with each other.
“He paused until I heard him say in a quiet, intense voice, as if speaking to me alone—he was sitting next to me—This is a place not only for poetry or stories or plays. It is a place for writing novels—on that scale. I should like to write a novel, of course, if only I had the time.
But you will have the time, surely, I ventured.”
— excerpt from Alison Anderson’s The Summer Guest
A century later, Katya Kendall is the other narrator and she has a dilemma with her publishing house going under. Until one day she reads Zinaida’s diary and discovers that Anton planned on writing a novel. Only that a novel was never published by him: he only published short stories and plays. So Katya plans on finding this missing manuscript to not only help out her publishing company, but also to change history.
Katya then brings in Ana Harding to help translate the works. While Ana is reading Zinaida’s diary, she thinks that the novel may not be the only secret in the diary. So Ana feels a need to find the novel and figure out what else happened between Zinaida and Anton.
I truly enjoyed this novel because of the history behind it. Zinaida’s journal is based on a true story. I love how Anderson dived into history and brought Zinaida and Anton’s relationship to light. I connected to Katya the most because I would do anything to find out new history. Especially if I had access to the journal like Katya does. I also respected Ana because she never stops searching for clues within the pages of the journal. She is bound and determined to see the project through. I recommend this to anyone who loves a beautifully written historical fiction novel.