By Angie Georgeff

This time of year, we are inclined to think about the many things for which we are thankful, both the large and the small. I was reminded of one of those smaller things when I started to read “Doctor Zhivago” last week. I bought the book for myself when the new translation was published in 2010. Knowing what a commitment of time and attention most Russian novels require, I had not taken the plunge until then. Since I had finished reading one recent release and have more than a month to spare before the next one I want to read comes out, the time was ripe.

I briefly weighed the book in my hand, dusted it off, opened it up and started to read. There was, of course, the plethora of Russian names and patronymics I had expected, and an assortment of Russian words that required some explanation, but I had hardly begun when I came across a sentence containing two English words with which I was unacquainted. And in this instance, context was no help.

I used my tablet to look them up and discovered that a nenuphar is a water lily and an ephebe is an adolescent male. And now you know why the context was no help. These two things don’t have much in common, but that was what the author was trying to express. The translators could simply have said water lily and youth, but that might not have conveyed the tone of the original words, which were used in a conversation between intellectuals.

It may be a bit of a bother to look up definitions while you are reading, but I am always grateful to have the opportunity to learn a new word. At the very least, if someone ever calls one of my grandsons an ephebe, I won’t take offense. I may, however, wonder whether he or she has read “Doctor Zhivago.”

Spotlight Book

In “Long Road to Mercy” David Baldacci introduces readers to Atlee Pine, an FBI agent with special skills and a very personal interest in fighting crime.  When she was six years old, a kidnapper chose between her and her twin sister Mercy by playing eeny, meeny, miny, moe.  Mercy was taken and Atlee was left behind.  Thirty years later, Mercy’s fate is still unknown and Atlee is haunted by the children’s rhyme.

Now Atlee is the sole agent in charge of the Grand Canyon. When a mule is found stabbed to death at the bottom of the canyon and its rider cannot be located, Atlee investigates. Each clue she unearths seems to point to a conspiracy, but she is called off the case by her superiors before the evidence aligns. Is continuing the investigation worth the risk to her career?