This is one among the many free e-books available in the Aldiko reader installed on my Samsung S4 (just saying). I made several attempts at starting the book; the setting is strange at least to me, since I don’t know much about Russia except their notoriety at emotional coldness, (especially to Africans), their love for vodka and Leo Tolstoy (whom I am yet to read). The characters had hard-to-pronounce names and they (the characters) were numerous and seemed to be introduced all at once. However, one thing about me is that once I get a book started, I have to make sure I finish it. I am glad I persevered with this one.
The book revolves around the story of three brothers: the tempestuous first born Mitya, the philosophical Ivan and the last of the brothers, Alyosha, whose character is, I would say, saintly. Their father, who is a big (non)influence in their lives is also a central character.
Through the book, we get to see Russia in the 1880’s, as it changes from a traditional society to a modern one where ideas about religion and politics are challenged. We get to discover why Russians are so passionate about their country, you almost want to hop on a plane and take a tour of Russia.
The book has numerous side-characters who add charm to the story; there is a sad, brave boy called Ilusha who is dying (sob sob) and his school friends. Alyosha (the saintly brother) makes friends with them and that’s how they come to be a part of the story. There is Aloysha’s elder Zossima. An elder is someone with who you trusted your soul; see Alyosha lived in a monastery with the elder and other monks and monks-to-be. He wasn’t a monk really and isn’t going to be. The story of the elder is told in detail and his ideas on man, religion and God are told extensively. Of course, these are really the author’s ideas put forth through his characters but done so eloquently.
After the introduction of the characters, comes the real tragedy. There’s a woman whom both the first born son Mitya and the dad, Fyodor Pavlovitch are in love with. Then there is a murder, which in the end brings the brothers together in one of the saddest endings I’ve read.
This book is worth every effort it took to get past the first few pages. If you have a smartphone/e-book reader, get the Aldiko book reader; if you don’t do it the old school way, I’m sure it will be available in a bookshop somewhere.