This week I spotted this book on a sale table while window shopping during my lunch hour and just couldn’t resist.
In 1903, Leon M – a devout terrorist – is given the responsibility of ‘liquidating’ Valerian Alexandrovitch Courilof, the notoriously brutal and cold-blooded Russian Minister of Education, by the Revolutionary Committee. The assassination, he is told, must take place in public and be in most grandiose manner possible in order to strike the imagination of the people.
Posing as his newly appointed personal physician, Leon M takes up residence with Courilof in his summer house in the Iles and awaits instructions. But over the course of his stay he is made privy to the inner world of Courilof – his failing health, his troubled domestic situation and, most importantly, the tyrannical grip that the Czar himself holds over all his Ministers, forcing them to obey him or suffer the most deadly punishments. Set during a period of radical upheaval in European history, “The Courilof Affair” is an unsparing observation of human motives and the abuses of power, an elegy to lost world and an unflinchingly topical cautionary tale. [Book summary, The Book Depository]
I just loved Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francaise translated by Sandra Smith (see my review), so if this story is even half as beautifully written I’ll be very happy!