Author: Anton Chekhov Published: 1903 Translator: Elisaveta Fen Synopsis: The lovelorn, bankrupt Liubov Andryeevna returns from Paris to settle the debts on her provincial estate. Its widely celebrated cherry orchard carries the ghost of her family and she struggles to reconcile the weight of these memories with her reckless refusal to take financial responsibility for herself. Her daughters Ania and Varia, her brother Gayev, and her long-faithful servant Feers are caught in the tidal wave of change that is sweeping past their matriarch as the local peasant son-cum-millionaire Lopakhin threatens their beloved home. What moved me: now at the fifth and final of Chekhov’s major works it is clear that this is his most consummate piece of craftsmanship. Every character has the depth of a well and, as in life, we are only given a glance into it as they come into our field of view, before they pass on and escape us. The complaint of boredom, which is the bread on which Chekhov’s work is buttered, is surprisingly absent here. There is too much immediately at stake for these characters to be bored, and the flurry with which they pass through their scenes made me forget myself. What moved me most, though, was a sound. In the final moment, the forgotten Feers, the emblem of servitude in a historical moment that was moving towards the utter rejection of inequality, lies down to die to the far-off sound of an axe chopping into a cherry tree. It produced a stunned, quiet pain that still sits with me hours after I’d finished reading.