There was standing room only when book lovers gathered at Berkhamsted Waterstones for a night of Tales From Russia.
The event was organised by local author Julie Mayhew to launch her Carnegie-nominated novel, Mother Tongue, and ease readers into the world of Russian literature.
Audience members sipped tea sweetened with jam and ate traditional biscuits and chocolates while listening to excerpts from Chekhov, Pushkin and folk tales, read by actors Adrian Scarborough and Melissa Berry.
The evening also raised £343 for the Naked Heart Foundation, the charity started by supermodel Natalia Vodianova in the wake of the 2004 Beslan School siege.
Julie said: “Mother Tongue draws on the real life events in Beslan, southern Russia, for its opening chapters. The story then travels to Moscow, weaving in all of the fairytales, food and fiction that we experienced at our event.
“I wanted to give readers a real taste of Russia – quite literally with tea and sweets, and also with passages from the country’s most magical stories.”