Set in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev during the chaotic winter of 1918-19, The White Guard, Bulgakovs first full-length novel, tells the story of a Russian-speaking family trapped in circumstances that threaten to destroy them. As in Tolstoy's War and Peace, the narrative centres on the stark contrast between the cosy domesticity of family life on the one hand and wide-ranging and destructive historical events on the other. The result is a disturbing, often shocking story, illuminated, however, by shafts of light that testify to people's resilience, humanity and ability to love in even the most adverse circumstances.

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