Book summary: The Courilof Affair

2008 BY IRÈNE NÉMIROVSKY

In 1903 Léon M–a devout terrorist–is given the responsibility by the Revolutionary Committee of publicly “liquidating” Valerian Alexandrovitch Courilof, a notoriously brutal and cold-blooded minister. Posing as his newly appointed personal physician, Léon M 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 in Kiev and St. Petersburg, The Courilof Affair, the story of one man’s inquisition during the Bolshevik Revolution, is both an elegy to a world lost and an unsparing observation of human motives and behaviour during a period of radical upheaval in European history.

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