The Cook’s Wedding #DealMeIn

Charlie (my husband, for those who don’t know) is cah-RAY-zee about Anton Chekov. He gave me a few Chekov stories to read over the years. I loved one and meh-ed at the others. I am assured that the fault is mine, not Chekov’s.

So, for Deal Me In 2018, I assigned the suit of clubs to Chekov stories. I read “The Cook’s Wedding”, the first story in the volume I picked at random from Charlie’s collection.

I suppose I could have chosen a better story, but I can’t imagine how. With this story, I get it. I get it! I read it, and I was like Ohhhh….

Such a short story. So much to tell.

It’s told mostly from the point of view of a seven-year-old boy, the son of a well-to-do family. The first sentence informs us that he’s “fat,” which may be supposed to explain why he’s so interested in the cook’s welfare. His mama and nurse are determined to marry the cook off. Not to get rid of her; she’ll still live with them and her husband will not.

The little boy stands in the place of anyone who hasn’t bought into the world view that young women need to be controlled. He doesn’t understand why the cook can’t live her own life. His father doesn’t understand. It’s the women in the story who dig up a suitor, negotiate the terms, and arrange the wedding.

And what does the little boy give the unhappy bride, in a blind attempt to comfort her? An apple.

It seems to be typical of Chekov, if I understand my husband rightly, to set up resonances rather than building story structures. If so, I love the resonances I pick up from this story of female power and female undermining of female power. The old nurse (the Crone) and the boy’s mother (the Mother) should be in concert with the cook (the Maiden), but they conspire in robbing her of her autonomy.

Then there’s that apple, given her by the new generation. Is that a hint that she may be married, but she’s always free to transgress, or that her will is still free? Is it a straight trade: the the comfort of food from the boy for the comfort of food from the cook?

So. Many. Things.

Thanks, Jay, for tempting me into the Deal Me In 2018 Read A Story A Week Challenge!

If YOU need a short story to read, I have free ones here (not counting the Hot Flashes) on my Free Reads page. I also have three collections (not counting the Hot Flashes collection) for 99 cents each linked from my Short Stories page.

A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: Two people conspire against another “for his/her own good.”



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “The Cook’s Wedding #DealMeIn

  1. Jay

    January 15, 2018 at 8:19am

    I love Chekhov too and have read many of his stories for Deal Me In over the years. I’ve had a couple book clubs that have read his long-ish short story, The Black Monk, which remains one of my all-time favorites.

    So Glad to have you with us in DMI 8.0! 🙂

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 15, 2018 at 10:12am

      Ooo! I’ll have to read that one, then! I’m glad to be part of DMI. It’s Improving as well as thoroughly enjoyable.

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  2. joey

    January 15, 2018 at 9:46pm

    I feel like I’ve read enough Chekov to last me a lifetime. Maybe if I live to be 100… No, I’ll have better things to do. No offense to Charlie.
    I DO love the way you got the maiden, mother, crone from it tho 🙂

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  3. Kirizar

    January 16, 2018 at 9:21pm

    If you ever want to read a wild, Russian tale, I highly recommend The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I was a Russian studies major back when the cold war still had some influence and before the Soviet Union fell (though, mostly for show, rather than really changing anything long-term, politically speaking.) I almost never recommend a book because I feel it takes away the pleasure of discovering the joy of the work on your own. So, perhaps you will forget this recommendation. Someday you will wander into your local library and accidentally happen upon this exotic text in your own time. If you do, I hope it brings the same pleasure it brought me when slogging through the many word-dense, thousand-page tomes of typical Russian novelists. According to Wikipedia the page count is only 138 pages. It is almost unbelievably light in comparison to the War and Peace/Anna Karenina crowd most people know and loath. Also according to Wikipedia, it was published the year I was born. Coincidence? I think not.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 17, 2018 at 8:51am

      Oh, I ADORE The Master and Margarita!!!! I’ve read it twice, and I just may have to read it again. ~grin~ It’s one of my top five favorite books. Never read Anna, but I also love War and Peace and The Brothers K. But M&M is WONDERFUL. I love getting recommendations from friends, so don’t ever hesitate. I loaned this to #4 Daughter, The Amazing Sara Marian, and she loves it as much as I do. Her second novel will have a Behemoth type in it. I CAN’T WAIT!!!!

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