Kaufman recounts Anna’s agony in scenes as gut-wrenching as any we might encounter in her husband’s novels, and even Dostoyevsky’s most ardent fans will find themselves asking if the relationship, despite making it possible for him to finish some of his most celebrated works, was worth it ... Dostoyevsky was ferociously antisemitic, as Kaufman, refreshingly, makes no attempt to downplay ... Kaufman is sympathetic to both his subjects. He does not want to judge Anna for her choices, especially because women then had so few. (Russian women would not be able to secure divorces easily until the Bolshevik Revolution.) He affirms that being the partner of a great Russian writer would have been meaningful to her in multiple ways, including as a patriot. Perhaps we should regard Anna’s life itself as an X-ray, a high-energy beam that illuminates a stark truth: that for a woman marriage — then and even now — is always a bit of a gamble.
Kaufman interprets Anna’s behavior toward her husband as shrewd and strategic, although he concedes that contemporary readers may see their relationship 'as an unhealthy codependency between a volatile artist and submissive peacekeeper.' Certainly she showed considerable strength when she took control of the production and sale of her husband’s works ... A deeply researched, informative literary biography.
... fascinating ... While Kaufman highlights just how important Snitkina was to Dostoyevsky’s success as a novelist, to his stability, and to preserving his legacy after he died in 1881, he also emphasizes Snitkina’s own business acumen in starting a publishing company to produce her husband’s work, in paying off his debts, and in selling and promoting his novels. With colorful details, Kaufman successfully corrects biographical accounts that have 'erased' Snitkina’s flair. Highly readable, this page-turning narrative will appeal to Dostoyevsky fans and literature-lovers in general.