RaveThe Minneapolis Star-TribuneThe use of the word \'story\' is crucial; this is a work of literature rather than history ... No review can do justice to this book. For 800 pages, Paustovsky is the reader\'s companion on a journey that seems to encompass all of life, one suffused throughout by the author\'s optimism. The length may seem daunting and the names alien to those unfamiliar with Russian literature, but the book offers a powerful literary experience for which no recommendation can be as high or as fervent as this terrific book is for itself.
MixedThe Chicago Review of BooksIt is a strange and intriguing dual inquiry that Hornby sets before readers, and by the end of the short book, he pulls it off with interesting, if rather mixed, results ... The novelty of the pairing does not quite overcome the sense of its arbitrariness ... where Hornby shines is in the too brief psychological readings of Dickens...Dickens is what made his relations with and writing about women bizarre. It is unfortunate that Hornby devoted only a few pages to such an interesting inquiry ... At the end of the book there is disappointment in the possibilities left unexplored. Maybe the most glaring issue is the lack of engagement with the implications of the subtitle ... Furthermore, that Dickens and Prince are posited as a particular kind of genius implies the existence of other kinds. Perhaps a short study meant for a general readership can’t be expected to engage with theories of genius and the canon, but some investigation of a term crucial to the book’s premise seems warranted ... In spite of these flaws, missed opportunities rather than missteps, it is a charming book that mostly reads like two brief biographies with pleasant digressions. The shortcomings in coverage and thoroughness may be due to Hornby’s conception of the book less as a critical study than a kind of creative call to arms, which he sounds in the final lines ... If the idea is to leave the reader wanting to strive for more and to take these two remarkable figures, as models, to visit and revisit bits of the vast corpuses to learn a thing or two about craftsmanship, then Hornby succeeds well enough.