The Tolstoy Estate (published by HarperCollins/4th Estate AU, 2020), by Steven Conte, a writer based in Warrnambool, in the Australian state of Victoria, is another of the six shortlisted finalists in the born-again The Age Book of the Year award.
A work of historical fiction, The Tolstoy Estate re-lives the failed Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union during the Second World War, through the eyes of Paul Bauer, a German military doctor. He heads a field hospital at Yasnaya Polyana, the former residence of Russian author Leo Tolstoy, which, following his death, became a museum dedicated to his work.
There Bauer meets Katerina Trubetzkaya, another Russian writer, who administers Tolstoy’s estate. She has little regard for the Nazis, but begins to take a liking to the German doctor, after discovering he learned Russian by reading Tolstoy’s epic, War and Peace, a book she also admires.
The cover art for The Tolstoy Estate somewhat sets the mood here. Cold and bleak, but it still invites perusal on account of the intriguing title.