This book is a vivid account of life in Moscow, "the most Russian of Russian cities," in the year 1903, a year before Russia's disastrous war with Japan and two years before the momentous Revolution of 1905. Though the undercurrents of social change were running swiftly, the surface stability of the Tsarist regime show no indication of the turmoil ahead.
The author, who is perhaps best known for his biography Tolstoy, describes Russian life through the eyes of a fictional young Englishman visiting a prosperous Russian merchant family. All facets of Moscow life are covered, from entertainment and night life to family life and the devotions of the Orthodox. We learn about Russia's factory workers and peasants, its soldiers and lawyers, its priests and its city officials, its Tsar and his entourage: what they do and what they wear, what they think and what they dream. Concluding chapters take our visitor to the famous fair at Nizhny-Novgorod, which was held every year from July 15 to September 10, and on a boat trip down the Volga.