Tolstoy And The Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch

Title:  Tolstoy And The Purple Chair: My Year Of Magical Reading

Author:  Nina Sankovitch

Genre:  Memoir

About:  When Nina’s beloved older sister died Nina threw herself into living life to the fullest – almost as if living for herself and her sister. She chaired committees, coached her sons’ sports and academic teams, and underwent medical tests so she could reassure her family that she was not going to die. Three years later she realized she couldn’t keep up the frantic pace. Her grief was just as strong as it had been following Anne-Marie’s death.  Nina had to find answers to looming questions of why her sister had died and not her; what was she supposed to do with her life. She wasn’t finding the answers through constant activity so she looked for something that could link her to Anne-Marie. That something was reading. Nina decided to read a book each day for a year.  A mother to four school-age boys, Nina would get them off to school each day and try to read a book by the time they returned home or after they went to bed each day.  Quite a challenge indeed!  Nina’s sons and husband supported her and pitched in around the house as she accomplished her goal.

After three years of carrying the truth of my sister’s death around with me, I knew I would never be relieved of my sorrow. I was not hoping for relief. I was hoping for answers. I was trusting in books to answer the relentless questions of why I deserved to live. And of how I should live. My year of reading would be my escape back into life.  (p.31 uncorrected proof)

My thoughts:  I have six sisters and can only imagine the grief I’d experience if one died before her time. I’ve also loved to read since I was a young girl so it should come as no surprise that I liked this book.

Although I’ve read only a small percentage of the books mentioned in Tolstoy And The Purple Chair I appreciated the wisdom that Ms. Sankovitch took from all. She read popular novels, literature, mysteries, and at least one recommended by her son. Each served to guide her through the year-long journey in search of answers. It’s a very personal book and one I’ll recommend to any booklover.

Source:   Harper

20 thoughts on “Tolstoy And The Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch

  1. This book sounds a bit sad and I hope the author was able to overcome her grief.

    I can’t imagine being able to read a book every day – just not enough time. I could see how it would be cathartic though. I will check out this book for sure.


  2. This does sound like a touching read. Reading a book a day would be a huge challenge in itself. I suppose reading would help you escape your grief though. Interesting idea.


  3. I remember when she was reading a book a day. This book sounds interesting but I’m not sure I get the title. I’ll have to check this one out!


  4. Amazing how grief affects people differently. When my only sister died at age 45, I spent a year at least just about in limbo. Life went on around me but I had no interest in it, never mind participating in all sorts of things. Glad you enjoyed the book. I’m with Kathy, not too sure about the title on this one.


  5. Being a sister, myself, I can’t imagine losing my little sister, my other half before her time. It’s an increidble thing to think that she was able to plow through so many books…one a day, my goodness and with four boys! I use books, often as escape, though, so it seems like a very similar reaction to one I might have in that situation. I really do love the concept behind this story.


  6. This one sounds very personal and I’m sure to love it. I only have my brother but the thought of losing him makes me emotional as I’m typing this…..will put this on my Summer Reading list!!


  7. As a booklover this story intrigues me. I don’t have a sister and haven’t experienced this level of grief but diving into books instead of other dangerous endeavors is a much safer approach. I’m adding this book to my TBR list. Thanks Mary!


  8. I like the purple to complement Tolstoy’s purple chair. Purple being a royal colour of divinity and reading as we both know is a divine pleasure of life.

    Adding this one to TBR list and thanks Mary for bringing this review to life with your thoughts.


  9. This sounds like an interesting book. I know I couldn’t read a book a day. After a while that would feel like work to me.


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