First Love  By  cover art

First Love

By: Ivan Turgenev
Narrated by: David Troughton

Publisher's Summary

At the end of a dinner party, the remaining guests drink wine and tell stories of their first love. For one of them, it will be a dark journey into his past, reawakening unbearable memories of his obsession with the beautiful Zinaida.
©2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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Turgenev's Famous Novel...

Fathers And Sons is one of my favorite Russian novels, and this lesser known work, First Love, now becomes another of my top-ranking volumes of east European literature. Like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, Turgenev is the literary precursor of the psychologist, teasing out the inner thoughts and motivations of his characters, painting them in umber scenes, often melancholy and reflecting on the past. First Love is about remembrance, hope, regret, and the full oeuvre of human emotion, a moving and compelling work of art.

16 people found this helpful

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Passion is stronger than logic

Any additional comments?

The final image of the novel, of the old lady in rags and dying on a hard floor with a sack under her head as she fights to stay alive despite a lifetime of misery gives the novel a greater perspective than just a young man sadly in love with a woman he won't have. The novel speaks to a greater need for people to live, at all costs and at any price, no matter the amount of pain it inflicts.

I have to admit to not feeling as close to Vladimir as I would have liked. Not because I didn't share any of his experiences - what young man hasn't - but there was a strange formality in him that seemed at odds with his age. I understand he was well bred and that his manners contrast beautifully with the situation of his love, but even when he was most mad, in the garden at midnight, I never really felt like I was with him. Had this been a slightly more modern novel - say written in the 1910's or 20's - there might have been a needed sexual undercurrent that is sorely missing here. I can't blame Turgenev since we have to consider when the novel was written, but still it's an element of human nature that is important.

Zinaida, however, though we never get the novel from her point of view, I felt much closer to. Her character is the real strength of the novel because we learn so much about her through her actions and the actions of everyone around her. She is a flirt, she is manipulative, she is poor (having once been wealthy), but she is not a bad person. In fact I felt more empathy to her than I did towards Tolstoy's Anna - they were similar women, but Zinaida felt more ... within reach. She wanted to be in love, not just be loved. And who doesn't want that? All her suitors were dolts, except for the one man who did have her.

I liked the image of his father's horse, the near wild Electric. This mirrored the father quite poetically and gave substance to his feelings in a way we could understand.

All-in-all this is a very sad novel, but it does speak to how we struggle in life to live and how imperfect we are. Yes we may know the right things to do, but passion is almost always stronger than logic.

7 people found this helpful

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Near perfection.

Among the great 19th century Russian novelists, Turgenev is counted among the greatest but nevertheless seems to find himself in the shadows of the Titans, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, perhaps because Turgenev's works are shorter by comparison. But his novella , "First Love," is the equal of any piece of fiction ever written. I can't say too much more in detail or I'll give away the ending--which is absolutely electrifying. And, accompanying this superb work of fiction, the book is narrated by a no less superb reader, David Troughten.

6 people found this helpful

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For lovers of great Russian lit

Deftly performed story of a young man’s first love in the beautiful words of Ivan Turgenev. This was a perfect shortish listen on one of those sleepless nights, and now I’m looking for more Turgenev on Audible.

2 people found this helpful

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A Meditation on (not a Celebration of) Youth

As another reviewer has noted, Turgenev is overshadowed by Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. But having read almost everything those two wrote – and preferring Dostoyevsky’s Orthodoxy to Tolstoy’s self-created faith and silly theories of history – I took to Turgenev at once.

A story of youth, it is meant for those of us who have been there, got the t-shirt, and long ago saw it fall apart in the wash. Like Dostoyevsky, this is a story of furtive immorality told from a sane, deeply moral point of view. The triumph here is not that our middle-aged narrator lived his youth to the fullest, but that he survived it to tell the tale. And David Troughton’s sensitive (but not sentimental) performance could simply not be improved upon.

1 person found this helpful

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5 Star Reading of this Poignant Classic

The ecstasies and sorrows of the youthful first love is a well trodden theme in literature, but this is the finest treatment of the theme I’ve come across. The narration is pitch perfect too. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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First love

I just really did not enjoy this story. I found it to be irritating and vague. the characters were not likeable.

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A Story of First Love

A story of a man’s first love in the childhood of his teenage years at a summerhouse. Turgenev masterfully brings to light youthful love, with all its longings, grief, confusions, and resilience. Tragedy marks almost every page, but redemption follows.

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story about living life to the fullest when young

good story with a random instance of antisemitism at one point. summary: yolo swag /gen

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A man tells a sad true story to his friends.

This story is not very long and contains few surprises, maybe none if you're especially quick to pick up on hints, but it's wistful and tragic and very romantic and if you're in the mood for that kind of thing then it's just right.

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  • William
  • 09-19-21

Lightweight and superficial

It is only a short story but it was a struggle to keep going. There is charm and authenticity in the depiction of the narrator's adolescent discovery of love, but the other characters are lightly penned. Zinaida - the object of his adoration - is 2 dimensional. The shallowness of her social life teasing a group of suitors may well be a reflection of mores but it is of minor interest. There is little of Turgenev's skillful juggling of various living and fascinating cast characters who all all important and fully human.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Guy Andrews
  • 07-24-15

A bewitching story told with authority and charm.

Would you consider the audio edition of First Love to be better than the print version?

A strange question. Hopefully they would be identical. I haven't read the book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of First Love?

A sequence of moments: the thrilling, excruciating games the heroine compels her suitors to play.

Have you listened to any of David Troughton’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I have heard Mr Troughton sing 'Blue Light Boogie' in 'Tales Of Sherwood Forest' , and I have seen his fabulous wiggly dance.

Masterful.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was entranced. And finally exasperated by the misjudged abruptness of the author's ending.

Any additional comments?

Turgenev's head was so large that when he died the medical authorities pickled his brain as a curiosity to amuse undergraduates.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 12-04-22

typical Russian story - loved it

complex characters, involved story and the joy of a flighty Russian princess.

I really enjoyed it!

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  • Ferry41
  • 08-30-22

Beautiful reading of a classic story

This book is not very long, but a real classic. Beautifully read by David Troughton. It is a very poignant telling of first love not always ending the way that you want it to! You really feel for the young boy.

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  • Lina
  • 03-31-22

Beautiful story, great performance

A beautiful story, clever, funny and very poignant. It’s difficult to write about live without being soppy and dull, this was just the opposite. The performance was beautifully done and brought the story to life.

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  • Chickled Pillies
  • 02-10-22

brilliant

Really enjoyed it, brilliantly read. a story that is riveting and which I found to be genuinely touching. thoroughly recommended.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-09-22

Frivolous,Torrid and finally Humane.I love .

I love this period drama ,to write such a story and give it such depth is amazing.It is frightful too, something occurs which in modern terms is horrific and totally unacceptable but part of the love story.

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  • LC
  • 01-10-22

Captivating story

A vivid and captivating short story. I found it enjoyable and feels quite real and enchanting somehow. Very well read.

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  • Pamela
  • 12-15-21

Almost but not quite!

The narration is good and completely satisfactory. But it is great in the way Sam West or for that matter Timothy West who both give a performance.
Obviously, the title tells exactly the theme of the story. It is a short story but in all honesty, it was a struggle to keep going. There is a great deal of repetition of events. There is charm and authenticity in the depiction of the narrator's adolescent discovery of love the blind the passion that is all emotion and no reason. However, the other characters are lightly penned. Zinaida, the object of his adoration is without depth and completely cardboard two-dimensional. The shallowness of her social life, teasing and flirting in a group of suitors may well be a reflection of mores but it is of minor interest. And definitely less interesting when described multiple times. There is little of Turgenev's skillful juggling of credible fascinating characters who are fully developed.

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  • Francine D. Pettersen
  • 10-25-21

Beautiful story

This is my first reading experience with Turgenev, but not the last. What a magnificentl language and descriptions. The story was pleasing and excellently told by David Troughton.

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  • Jessica
  • 11-23-22

I didn’t want it to end!

This was my first Turgenev, wow. So charming and funny and sweet. The narration was perfect. Incredible. This is the worst part about short stories, you fall in love and then they’re done.

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  • Judith
  • 10-21-22

Perfect first love story

A beautifully crafted , but believable love story, told through the eyes of a 16 year old youth. Beautifully narrated. If new to Russian literature this book is a delightful way to start, if already a fan, but new to Turgenev , you will seek more of his writing.

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  • Xavier Logan
  • 04-23-22

Tenderly

The crushing tenderness of unrequited love with a twist. This book will help you revisit not only the charm and delight of love, but also its brute, crushing force.