White Nights by Fyodor Dostoevsky book review

White Nights is a book that I instantly bought after seeing Jack Edwards (of Booktube fame) say that he’d seen a tweet that said you don’t know love until you’ve read White Nights by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I’m not the biggest romantic and find it hard when romance is written poorly to get involved. But did White Nights do enough to convince me that it really is the ultimate book about love?

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Fyodor Dostoevsky is the author of famed Crime and Punishment among many other very popular books. He’s often considered one of the greatest authors of all time. However, I am not somebody who studies literature and I am somebody who will give my honesty opinion based on my mid-level understanding of the English langauega and reading ability.

White Nights plot – 45/5

White Nights tells the story of a man who meets a woman on a night when he finds her crying by herself. He becomes instantly besotted by her and declares that he thinks he is falling in love with her. He soon finds out he’s not the only man in the picture and thus must contend with the potential that he may have fallen too hard, too quickly.

The book itself is very short (my copy was around 90 pages) but it still manages to tell quite a deep story. I was very impressed with Dostoevsky’s ability to capture so much detail and nuances of love in so few pages. I think focusing on dialogue as nearly the only form of text throughout the book helped build this as it allowed the characters to essentially spout long monologues about themselves and their feelings.

So did the plot of White Nights better help me understand love? Well, I don’t know about that, but I would say that I was incredibly impressed with how Dostoevsky managed to capture nearly every stage of love in so few pages. He captured the joy of falling, the feeling of nothing else in the world mattering, the moment when it doesn’t feel quite right and the heartbreak of losing it all.

I may have spoiled the plot there a little but, being so short, it wouldn’t have taken you long to come to the same summary.

White Nights characters – 4.25/5

Now, the main charcters in White Nights were really odd. The idea that our two main protagonists met over the space of a few nights and fell so deeply in love just from very odd conversations they had with one another had me wondering what on earth was wrong with these people.

But as I kept reading, I began to realise that this wasn’t meant to represent a real interaction but one sped up to race through each stage of love. As I mentioned, a lot of the book is written in the form of dialogue so it’s very easy to follow what’s going on and it also allows the characters to build up their personalities.

I found their relationship utterly enthralling. Never have I read a book so short where I wanted two people to get together so much and also felt the maturity and understanding of why they didn’t get together and how well that was dealt with.

White Nights final rating – 4.25/5

White Nights isn’t the most romantic novel I’ve ever read but it does do an extremely impressive job of expressing all of the moments you experience during love in such a short number of pages! Its ability to make you feel the joys, the turbulence and the heartbreak of love all in around 90 pages is very impressive. The writing is top-tier and at times can require quite a high level of concentration to stay immersed but it all equates to a book that manages to depict emotions you wouldn’t necessarily know how else to articulate in so few words. White Nights is short and sweet but it’s special.

Buy a copy of White Nights from Amazon

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