One of my favourite house books belongs to the literature collection on the 4th floor at Central. Lev Tolstoy and Yasnaya Polyana tells the story of Tolstoy’s creative life at his beautiful and beloved estate in Tula, Russia.
It’s been many years since I have read the companion essays in the book which, I recall, betray the communist sympathies of the authors; however, I love to pull it off the shelf from time to time just to look at the pictures.
The rooms are comfortable and unpretentious and reveal the interests of the occupants. They remain attractive and inviting by today’s standards.
Tolstoy’s study includes a Persian walnut desk that belonged to his father, a long black leather sofa and several arm chairs. The caption mentions a big Italian window and door leading out to the balcony. Although, the window is not in the picture of the study, other photos allow you to imagine its effect on the room.
Sophia Andreyevna’s room includes a handsome writing table where she wrote letters and diaries and kept the household accounts.
On the walls around her bed are photos of husband, children, grandchildren and friends. “All who knew [her] commented upon the forcefulness of her character…”
This comment reminds me of the movie The Last Station* which tells the story of their final days on the estate which Tolstoy surrendered to the government. (It is now a museum.) The 2009 film was based on the novel by Jay Parini. In the screen version, Helen Mirren plays the feisty Sophia and Christopher Plummer is Tolstoy – and it’s another stunning performance from this year’s Academy Award winner.
* Editor's Note: We are unable to link the movie directly to our catalogue, but you if you search the catalogue, you will find it.