Uncle’s Dream book review

I finished reading Uncle’s Dream by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The gist of the book is that the protagonist of the novel, Maria Alexandrovna, is trying to manipulate an old, mentally ill prince into marrying her daughter so that they can have his money. Meanwhile, Maria’s social rivals and another suitor for her daughter have plans of their own that Maria must thwart. But Maria is clever and eloquent, the leading gossip and best at controlling conversation in her small village. She manages to talk herself out of all kinds of predicaments. Overall I found the book readable, but as a comedy it was lacking. The descriptions can get dense and the action moves slowly compared to other comedies. On the plus side, the characters are fleshed out and motives explained in such detail that all their crazy antics are completely believable. The main character, Maria, is dislikable, and yet the reader still roots for her because of the sheer audacity of her schemes. And unlike other Dostoyevsky novels, the characters do not repent and find redemption. After Maria’s scheme is foiled and she and her family must leave the village in total humiliation, we see in the epilogue that another of their marriage schemes succeeded and they get exactly what they want— riches and social status.

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