Bring on the revolution?

The Courilof Affair by Irene Nemirovsky

The Russian Minister for Education, Courilof, is notorious for his cold-bloodedness and brutality and has been selected to be liquidated publicly to send a message to the masses that the revolution is coming. It’s 1903 and Leon M is assigned to the task. His initial job is to become part of Courilof’s household so that he is not suspected, and after several months posing as a Swiss doctor treating the ailing Minster, he begins to understand and develop some sympathy for his target and see him as a fellow human. Courilof meanwhile has cancer and wishes ultimately to die on the job with the favour of the Czar rather than be assassinated. I won’t spoil the plot with further details.

For a short novel, this had a slowburn start which rather got me bogged down at first, then once the young revolutionary was in place it picked up. The subject of terrorism versus tyranny is of course very relevant today and this raises many questions – this and the novel’s shortness would probably make it a good choice for a book group. I shall look forward to reading more of this author too. 8/10

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Source: own copy. To explore on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Courilof Affair by Irene Nemirovsky, Vintage paperback, 176 pages.

0 thoughts on “Bring on the revolution?

  1. Hannah Furst says:

    I recently saw your post about reading Irène Némirovsky. I wanted to pass along some information on an exciting new exhibition about Némirovsky’s life, work, and legacy at the Museum of Jewish Heritage —A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City. Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française, which will run through the middle of March, will include powerful rare artifacts — the actual handwritten manuscript for Suite Française, the valise in which it was found, and many personal papers and family photos. The majority of these documents and artifacts have never been outside of France. For fans of her work, this exhibition is an opportunity to really “get to know” Irene. And for those who can’t visit, there will be a special website that will live on the Museum’s site Museum will host several public programs over the course of the exhibition’s run that will put Némirovsky’s work and life into historical and literary context. Book clubs and groups are invited to the Museum for tours and discussions in the exhibition’s adjacent Salon (by appointment). It is the Museum’s hope that the exhibit will engage visitors and promote dialogue about this extraordinary writer and the complex time in which she lived and died. To book a group tour, please contact Chris Lopez at 646.437.4304 or Please visit our website at for up-to-date information about upcoming public programs or to join our e-bulletin list. Thanks for sharing this info with your readers. If you need any more, please do not hesitate to contact me at

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