The beauty of this book is that along with the narrator you are so sure that it is possible to predict the actions and decipher the motivation of Vera, the woman who waited. Already she has proved that she has not wasted all of her life waiting and there are a couple more surprises in store.
After getting close to making the relationship physical Vera backs off and then disappears to go to the festival in the large town nearby. She is gone for three days and while she is away the narrator stumbles around the snow covered landscape dreaming of her and almost being paralysed by her absence. But when she returns she moves swiftly to consummate their relationship and it is only afterwards he understands why – the man she has been waiting for never waited for her. A picture of a state official and a grandfather is pointed out by a neighbour from the local paper and Vera’s heartbreak is palpable.
But the narrator is seized by cowardice and runs away rather than facing the prospect of being trapped as a replacement love interest for the intense Vera. But as he tries to escape he meets her and after a silent but meaningful row across the lake she bids him farewell. She is able to see through him and be a braver and more worthy character to let him go.
Throughout the story the narrator makes arrogant assumptions not just about Vera, the tragedy of her life and her apparent natural decision to fall in love with him, but also about the villagers who he assumes are worse off than the intelligentsia in Leningrad. But he scurries off there frightened by the rawness of their integrity in the end.
A full review will come soon…