The 'real' Tchaikovsky bible is, of course, David Brown's four volume biographical and critical study, undertaken over a 16 year period. It is the book to own for real Tchaikovsky fans. It's exhaustive, authoritative and definitive, and will be for many years to come.
But this is a much lighter affair and none the poorer for that. I keep a copy close by me at all times - it's very easy to read and find insightful reviews of all the major works including, splendidly, the often neglected operas. It's the book to get if you want to know more about Tchaikovsky, the man and his music, without going for the full length study.
The works are listed and reviews in chronological order alongside his life. Brown is certainly a fan but no blind acolyte. He knows Tchaikovsky's weaknesses all too well and sometimes Brown seems to feel a genuine disappointment that Tchaikovsky lets him down... "If only, if only, the same could be said for the Finale..."
But he is meticulously fair. If you are in any doubt about Tchaikovsky's place among the first rank of composers, then this book will help to to find Tchaikovsky right up there; music so much maligned but, at its best, some of the finest and most powerful ever written.
I have the book here now; one of the reviews says, "This book made me want to listen to the music again and that, I think, is the effect the author most desired." And it really is like that. You revisit music you may have known for years - perhaps the Violin Concerto, for example - and after you read what Brown says about it and you really do want to sit down and listen to a good performance with refreshed ears.
Scholarly but accessible, this book is a must for all Tchaikovsky devotees and those who might simply want to know more about the man behind some of the most beautiful music ever written.