First Love is an example of a frame story. The story starts with the protagonist, Vladimir Petrovich, at a party. The three guests, all men not old but no longer young, are taking turns recounting the stories of their first loves. When Vladimir's turn comes to tell his story, he suggests he write down the story in a notebook because it is a rather long, unusual tale and he is not adept at extemporaneous narration. The other men agree and a few weeks later the story within the story continues with Vladimir reading from his notebook as he recounts the memory of his first love.Vladimir Petrovich, a sixteen-year-old, is staying in the country with his family and there meets his new neighbor, Zinaida Alexandrovna Zasyekina, a beautiful twenty-one-year-old woman who is staying with her mother, the Princess Zasyekina. This family, as with many of the Russian minor nobility with royal ties of that time, were only afforded a degree of respectability because of their titles the Zasyekins, in the case of this story, are a very poor family. The young Vladimir falls in love with Zinaida, who has a set of several other (socially more eligible) suitors whom he joins in their difficult and often fruitless efforts for the young lady's favour. Zinaida, as is revealed throughout the story, is a thoroughly capricious and somewhat playful mistress to these rather love-struck suitors. She fails to reciprocate Vladimir's love, often misleading him, mocking his comparative youth in contrast to her early adulthood. But eventually the true object of her affections and a rather tragic conclusion to the story is revealed. A masterpiece!