A captivating, nuanced portrait of the life of Véra Nabokov, who dedicated herself to advancing her husband’s writing career, playing a vital role in the creation of his greatest works.
Véra Nabokov (1902–1991) was in many ways the epitome of the wife of a great man: keenly aware of her husband’s extraordinary talent, she decided to make his success her ultimate goal, throughout fifty-two years of marriage until his death in 1977. The first reader of his texts, Véra worked as typist and editor. She organized their lives in exile, as they traveled to Berlin, Paris, Switzerland, and, most importantly, the US, where she convinced Vladimir to focus on writing novels in English. She not only controlled the family’s finances and contract negotiations, but also attempted to control his friendships—particularly with women—going so far as to audit his classes.
In a rich, sweeping novel, Monika Zgustova immerses us in the daily life of this remarkable couple, offering insights into their complex personal and professional relationships. Véra considered herself an independent woman, but was she really, when her husband took up so much space? And without Véra, could Nabokov have become one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers?