Many admirers of Anton Chekhov’s plays couldn’t stop thinking about his characters after the curtain came down.
One example: Yelena, the young beauty of “Uncle Vanya.”
Sometimes, said Catherine Browder, a Kansas City writer, “she seemed such an airhead.”
But there seemed a lot more going on beneath the stunning features that, in the words of Yelena’s aunt, didn’t refresh men so much as blind them.
Others had pondered this as well. A Russian actress preparing to portray Yelena once had written to Chekhov and argued that Yelena may have been shortchanged and deserved more depth.
Chekhov, the Russian author and playwright who died in 1904, appeared to agree, at least according to the many biographies that Browder immersed herself in.
Recently Browder published “Now We Can All Go Home: Three Novellas in Homage to Chekhov,” in which characters from three Chekhov plays go forward with their lives.
From “Three Sisters,” Irina — the youngest of the three — must confront the future following the shooting death of her finance in a duel. Readers of Browder’s book will find themselves back with the stunned Irina mere moments after that shot.
In the two other stories Browder imagines further episodes in the lives of characters from “The Seagull” and “Uncle Vanya.”
As for Yelena, Browder portrays her as sincerely baffled at how the many young men who had come calling before her marriage all seemed to go to pieces in her presence. In part because of that, she had chosen to marry a much older man, an art history professor, who represented a refuge from the constant, exhausting siege.
But as her husband ages, Yelena realizes she’s made a terrible choice.
“She is a trained musician but she is losing her talent as long as her husband is this cranky invalid who requires her constant attention,” Browder said.
Yelena’s exasperating plight becomes only more so upon the arrival of a young music instructor. Her fascination with him complicates her life, and that’s before Sonya — the professor’s daughter, and so Yelena’s stepdaughter — grows enamored with him as well.
What Chekhov would make of this, Browder said, she isn’t sure.
“But since he had a good sense of humor I would like to think that he would be amused,” she said.
Browder will read from “Now We Can All Go Home” at 8 p.m. Friday at The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania Ave.
Also reading will be poet Catherine Anderson.