This book reminds you slightly of Life a user’s Manual in that it is almost like a collection of different tales and anecdotes even though they are connected to one single person. The reason for the comparison is that the scenes change here and there is a great deal of potential story that is just touched on before things move on.
Bullet points between pages 58 – 107
* As the story moves from Konstantin moving from the safe world of home to school he struggles to accept that he is growing up and finds school a bit of an ordeal made worse by one boy shooting himself in front of his class
* What makes it harder is the collection of teachers and older boys that alternatively strike the fear of god into the younger boys or make them uncomfortable with their strangeness including the geography teacher who takes a liking to Konstantin
* Konstantin goes back to his house and a younger woman is there and after he sees the teacher’s collection of odd bits and pieces she takes him for a drink and a cake and asks him what he thought of it and he replies that he liked the butterfly but is sad because no one sees it
* He then overhears his parents explaining to each other that the young woman was the old man’s wife and she has run away – the butterfly finds an audience – and as a result the old man gives up teaching and dies not long after encouraging Konstantin to carry on using his imagination
* One other tale is of a young woman who is skating with Konstantin’s brother and is seen dancing one night by the Prince of Siam who marries her and inherits the throne but the courtiers don’t like a Russian woman being queen and using ground up light bulbs are able to kill her after six months via internal haemorrhaging
* As all of these stories are told the beautiful countryside of Southern Russia slips by and acts as a backdrop to his education and exploration of Kiev