Meet the Long-Suffering Sofia Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy’s wife, Sofia, gives new meaning to the idea of a “long-suffering” spouse. She breastfed all of their 13 children “despite the agony it caused her,” and, far worse: transcribed all of War and Peace by hand. Sofia’s diaries, which are due out with Alma Books this fall, chronicle 50 years of troubled family life and a husband who isolated her. And she proves that behind every great man, there’s a woman rolling her eyes: “His vegetarian diet means the complication of preparing two dinners, which means twice the expense and twice the work,” Sofia writes. “His sermons on love and goodness have made him indifferent to his family, and mean the intrusion of all kinds of riff-raff into our family life. And his (purely verbal) renunciation of worldly goods has made him endlessly critical and disapproving of others."