I’ve had a longstanding obsession with Russia in the first half of the 20th century. It started when I read the book Nina’s Journey the year it came out. That was 1989. I was seven. I can’t imagine why my parents thought it was a good idea for a 7-year-old to read an autobiography from Stalin’s Russia, but that’s an entry for another day. Anyway, my mini-review of my latest read:

The Book: It’s a beautifully told story about a cultured aristocrat who is put under house arrest in Moscow’s most luxurious hotel after the bolsheviks take power. And he remains there for decades—living an incredible life inside its walls.

Favorite Aspect: The food and wine descriptions. This may be the first time I’ve put down a book thinking, “Well, that really left me craving some caviar.” The author makes food and drinks sound as beautiful as any scenery and as charming as any person.

Top quote: “For what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.” So, so true, right?