The Anna Karenina Fix: Lessons from Russian Literature by Viv Groskop – review

Biblio-memoir of a russophile conveyed in a charming, breezy style

In this enchanting biblio-memoir, comedian, broadcaster and russophile Viv Groskop, or “Vipulenka” – her own personal diminutive, which translates as “Dearest Teeny Tiny Little VIP” via a mishearing of “Vivka” (“Little Viv”) as “Veepka” (“Little VIP”) – takes readers on a whistlestop tour through Russian literature by means of what she’s learned from the classics. Arriving in Russia as a student in the 1990s, she’s shocked to discover everyone banging on about fate the entire time, “like something out of a bad Bond film”.

Nevertheless, she falls in love with the people and, most importantly, the literature, her impressive knowledge of which she conveys with a charmingly breezy tone. This is the first time I’ve seen Tolstoy described as “Oprah Winfrey with a beard”. It’s Samantha Ellis’s How to Be a Heroine meets Elif Batuman’s The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.

The Anna Karenina Fix: Lessons from Russian Literature by Viv Groskop is published by Fig Tree (£14.99). To order a copy for £12.74 go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99


Lucy Scholes

The GuardianTramp

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