Once upon a time I would drive groups of men who hadn't seen their wives and girlfriends for a couple of weeks. On our way home they would buy little stuffed animals with hearts and such. They would phone their wives/girlfriends and there would be a lot of 'miss you' and 'kissy kissy' going on. Okay, and once a porn film, but that is another story altogether.
Anyway, when seeing what those men did and hearing what they said, my stomach usually tried to a few somersaults. I felt that if I had a boyfriend/husband who behaved like that, we would need to have some serious discussions! Mind you, some might think it's romantic.
The boyfriend who was romantic with me one day, did not come with teddy bears and roses. He did not say smooshy words on the telephone. He brought painkillers and the most regular bar of chocolate he had in his cupboard. But to me, that was so romantic (the relationship didn't last. Lack of romance on my part really).
When I started my current reading frenzy (read something with some cultural oomph), I was told Dr Zhivago might be good! It was romantic after all....
It was worse than the kissy kissies. It was worse than the stuffed animals. And there was not a rose in sight either. Instead there was revolution. Attempted murders. A young girl led astray by a much older man. Hunger. Terror. A man with an arm and a leg cut off as a warning. Deportation. War. Burnt down villages. Ruined crops. Oh, and there was a two-timing B^%$#@^d. Well, three-timing really!
I don't know what some people call romantic. But honestly: dismemberment and war are romantic? A married man having it off with not one, but two other women and yes, having children with both of them!
|Juliet's balcony in Verona.|
All that aside though: I thought the book was really good. Once I got into it, which took a few chapters. Having read the (abridged) Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitzyn helped me to understand some concepts Pasternak was talking about, mainly about the deportations and the gulags. The translators (Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky) did a great job. The footnotes they provided helped as well, explaining about the Russian Orthodox Church and its rituals and several other things like the revolution and its aftermath.
So, what's next? Well, ehm... probably a simple romance novel where a boy and a girl meet, have a fight, fall in love and live happily ever after.