This is a long, involved and interesting biography of Ivan Turgenev, the singer Pauline Viardot and her husband, Louis Viardot, alongside a passionate social history of “European Culture.”
Author Orlando Figes is a British historian of Russia, and a professor of history at Birkbeck, University of London.
“Figes, who previously wrote an excellent cultural history of Russia, Natasha’s Dance, now looks at Europe (at least in part) and examines the growth in writing and publishing, popular and classical music, and painting,” said a review in goodreads.com.
“One of Figes’ themes is that art became democratized and available to the growing middle class through books that became cheaper and more widely available, the growth of postcards and photography, which made reproductions of fine art similarly available, and the concomitant increase in music — both popular and classical,” said the review.
“This is a fascinating historical biography, with an interesting historical background. With the inclusion of Turgenev, just about every author of the period is mentioned and this book,” the review added.