As an actor dealing with navigating the dangerous world of Chekhov on the stage, I am always looking to find whatever information I can on the landscape of his work. I read Rayfield's Biography of Chekhov which was quite thorough and very informative (if difficult to get through) and I picked up this one to take me a bit more into his view of Chekhov. This is a realy solid book, full of wonderfully well-thought ideas peppered with his knowledge and research, and it really helped to put some perspective on the piece. The danger is that it is Rayfield's perspective, and at times his opinions override the play as a whole. As a research tool, I'd highly recommend it for actors -- he illuminates some pretty sticky spots and gives some real useful angles on the text, as well as sharing the histories in performance and criticism. But it is all his own ideas, which are well to be respected, but he's deeply attached to making sense of the plays relative to what he's found in Chekhov's life, and THAT can be distracting and problematic. It was for me. Thankfully, he's quite clear about his opinions -- they are more than obvious. So despite those minor distractions, I would highly recommend it for anyone wanting to dig a little deeper into Chekhov's world.