Monday, April 25, 2011

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay (review #119)

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre: Fiction

This book was on my TBR shelf from the first moment I saw this cover. I am a cover junkie and I just think this one is absolutely beautiful. I was excited to be on the blog tour for this.

Here is a synopsis from the TLC Book Tour site:

When Nina Revskaya puts her remarkable jewelry collection up for auction, the former Bolshoi Ballet star finds herself overwhelmed by memories of her homeland, and of the events, both glorious and heartbreaking, that changed her life half a century earlier. It was in Russia that she discovered the magic of dance and fell in love, and where, faced with Stalinist aggression, a terrible discovery incited a deadly act of betrayal—and an ingenious escape to the West.

Nina has kept her secrets for half a lifetime. But now Drew Brooks, an inquisitive associate at a Boston auction house, and Grigori Solodin, a professor who believes Nina’s jewels hold the key to unlocking his past, begin to unravel her story—setting in motion a series of revelations that will have life-altering consequences for them all.

From the very beginning of this book, there is a feeling of intrigue, a suspense that something has happened and there are secrets that have been buried. I always enjoy that mystique in books especially when it is written well. Kalotay did just that. She intricately laid out the stories of the central characters; Nina, Drew and Grigori. Weaving back and forth in time, you follow Nina in her rise to a successful Ballerina in the Bolshoi Ballet. Since having seen Black Swan, I am ever more intrigued with the art and sport of ballet. It was interesting to read about the lives of these performers especially during such turbulent times in Soviet Russia.

I am not familiar much with the history of Soviet Russia and this novel introduced me to the terrors and the hardships of that time. On the other extreme, it was lovely to read about Boston and reminisce about my time living there.

There are some books that leave you with nothing to say and others that leave you with words flying from your fingertips as you type. This one leaves me with a bit of both. It was a well written novel, impressive for a debut and obviously well researched. You could feel the passion that the author had for this story and for the characters. The author's note and Q&A at the back of the book are fascinating to read and hearing the inspirations and work behind this novel make it even better.

Review: 5/6
If you are looking for a rich, involved, passionate, layered story of love, loss and intrigue, pick this up. It takes some time. You have to pay attention to the details, for the story goes back and forth in time. Perhaps not the best for a beach read for the summer but more so a rainy spring evening.

Book Club Pick?
Yes, this would be a good choice. There are so many things going on in this book that there would be plenty to discuss; the politics of Soviet Russia, the oppression, the lack of support for the arts, the world of Auction Houses and the value of jewelry.

Author Website:

Other Stops on this Tour:

Tuesday, April 5th: Library Queue

Wednesday, April 6th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, April 7th: nomadreader

Monday, April 11th: A Few More Pages

Thursday, April 14th: We Be Reading

Tuesday, April 19th: Books Like Breathing

Tuesday, April 19th: Chefdruck Musings

Thursday, April 21st: Book Addiction

Monday, April 25th: red headed book child

Tuesday, April 26th: Red Lady’s Reading Room

Wednesday, April 27th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Thursday, April 28th: Calico Critic

Friday, April 29th: Wordsmithonia

Monday, May 2nd: Historical Tapestry

Tuesday, May 3rd: Man of La Book

Wednesday, May 4th: In the Next Room

Thursday, May 5th: Life in the Thumb

Friday, May 6th: she reads and reads

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Sarah said...

I agree - I would buy it for the cover alone! It's stunning. However, it also sounds like a fantastic read - I'm a sucker for novels about 20th c. Russia and I hadn't heard of this. Thanks for the recommendation!

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

Wow. Great review (and I agree about the cover). I added this to my list right way. This sounds like my kind of book anyway.

Senator said...

Ooo. Thanks for the heads up on it taking longer. Sounds like a winner!

Tales of Whimsy said...

O this does sound interesting and layered.

Teresa said...

I think this one is on its way to me and I can't wait. I wanted to read it last year when it came out and never quite got to it.

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

I have always been fascinated by Soviet Russia - I"m named after Anastacia and I love history. I will definitely be looking for this book! I have a gift card for borders that i am itching to use so i may just go find this book this week! thanks for the great review!

Gina said...

Slightly agreed on the is interesting at the very least. Sounds like the story does an excellent job of enlightening the reader as well as entertaining them....nice mix. May or may not tackle this one in the future, but definitely enjoyed the review. Happy reading!

Misha said...

I have this book! After your review, I can't wait to read it! The cover is lovely and the premise seems great.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one - thanks for being on the tour!

Ryan said...

I really enjoyed this one. I'm not normally a fan of historical ficiton but this one blended the two together nicely. Great review.