5 of 9
By Nikolai Leskov
432 pages; Penguin Classics

In Lady Macbeth, opening July 14, Florence Pugh plays a young woman who's chafing against her kept-woman status in the British countryside. Bored, she takes a lover, and they're so determined to keep their affair going that a murder or two ensues. However, Leskov's original story, published in 1865, is Russian to the core. It was first published in a magazine run by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and though it can be read in one sitting, it's a master class in the themes of big Russian novels: romance and war, class conflict, religion, hypocrisy, all tucked into a plot with the speed of a detective story.