Synopsis: Alone in his room in a dirty Berlin pension, Ganin reminisces about Mary, his first love. He fantasizes that a fellow lodger’s wife, due to arrive the next day, is his long-lost sweetheart and plots how they will run away together, leaving everything else far behind …
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Publisher: Penguin Classics
This is Nabokov’s first novella, and my first experience with the famous writer. Whilst the novel purports to be ‘something about Mary’ (sorry – couldn’t help putting that in), it’s actually about memory, nostalgia and the yearning for the past.
As a debut, there is nothing particularly wrong with Nabokov’s work; in fact, it’s hugely better than most. Nevertheless, it left me a little underwhelmed; there just doesn’t seem to be enough. His prose is almost there, as are his themes and his tone. I really enjoyed the dinner scenes and was overcome by the ending. But everything in between was a bit – for lack of a better term – meh.
Instead of stopping my desire to read more of Nabokov, Mary has actually fuelled it. The ending is surprising and thought provoking and we all know I love endings that make me stand back, sigh and think about it for the next few days.