Book review: Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay!

  • Published:  March 28, 2017
  • Publisher:  Harper Collins Canada
  • Pages:  560
  • Genre:  General fiction

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  

In present-day Boston, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Russian ballet, has decided to auction her jewellery collection and donate the proceeds to the Boston Ballet Foundation. It is a mysterious gesture that has piqued the interest of two particular individuals: a rising associate director at the auction house, Drew Brooks, who seeks to unravel the provenance of the pieces; and a professor and Russian translator at the nearby university, Grigori Solodin, who believes the jewels might hold the key to his past.

The stakes are raised when an anonymous individual donates a necklace that perfectly matches the bracelet and earrings in Nina’s collection, claiming the pieces belong together. It is this donation that will bring Drew and Grigori together in unexpected ways to uncover the story behind Nina’s fabulous jewels—a bounty said to have been smuggled out of Stalinist Russia when she defected from the country in the early 1950s.

It was there, in Russia, that Nina first learned to dance, fell in love with the handsome poet Viktor Elsin, and struggled with the choice to pursue her craft or begin a family. Nina and her circle of free-thinking artist friends lived in constant fear of Stalin’s disapproval, of arrest and torture by the secret police for unpatriotic behaviour and so-called crimes against the state. Yet when their circle was broken by just such an arrest, a devastating misunderstanding parted the four friends and lovers forever.

BUY THE BOOK:   HarperCollins | Amazon

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Daphne Kalotay is the author of the award-winning novel Russian Winter, which has been published in twenty languages, and the fiction collection Calamity and Other Stories. She has received fellowships from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo, and has taught at Boston University, Skidmore College, Grub Street, and Middlebury College. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Connect with the author:  Website – Facebook – Goodreads

REVIEW:

Russian Winter is a Dr. Zhivago-esque blend of fiction and history.  There are several storylines blending together in this book with Nina, a young Russian ballerina as our principal player.  She is now living in Boston and has decided to auction off the jewels she received as gifts while she was living in the Soviet Union.

Grigori Solodin, an immigrant Russian professor in Boston is haunted by artifacts in a purse he received from his parents.  He is unable to determine their provenance until he learns of the auction of Nina Revskaya’s jewels.

Nina grows up in Stalinist Russia and is chosen to work for the Bolshoi Ballet. As she makes her way to becoming the principal dancer, she must choose between what comes first in her life, the Bolshoi Ballet or those she loves.

During the 1950’s in Stalinist Russia it is impossible to trust anyone, and with Nina this mistrust includes her family and friends.   Intrigue, informers and fear are the background to this story.   Despite the political environment, Nina falls in love with a handsome poet, Viktor Elsin.  As artists, however, they are not free to pursue their own passions, they belong to Stalin.

I was concerned that I a very short time frame in which to read this 500+ page book for review. The pages flew!  The author left clues throughout the book and so it was fairly easy to guess what would happen.  However, I was not prepared for the gut-wrenching revelations toward the end of the book. This is a keeper!

 

Book review: The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson

{98F847B1-4D54-4966-ACF4-64A609DCEC4A}Img400

  • The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson
  • Publisher:  Harper Collins
  • Pages:  400
  • Genre:  Literary fiction / historical fiction / biographical
  • Published:  March 8, 2016

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

During the long, hot summer of 1888, an extraordinary friendship blossoms between Anton Chekhov and Zinaida Lintvaryova, a young doctor. Recently blinded by illness, Zinaida has retreated to her family’s estate in the lush countryside of Eastern Ukraine, where she is keeping a diary to record her memories of her earlier life. But when the Chekhov family arrives to spend the summer at a dacha on the estate, and she meets the middle son Anton Pavlovich, her quiet existence is transformed by the connection they share. What begins as a journal kept simply to pass the time becomes an intimate, introspective narrative of Zinaida’s singular relationship with this doctor and writer of growing fame.

More than a century later, in 2014, the unexpected discovery of this diary represents Katya Kendall’s last chance to save her struggling London publishing house. Zinaida’s description of a gifted young man still coming to terms with his talent offers profound insight into a literary legend, but it also raises a tantalizing question: Did Chekhov, known only as a short story writer and playwright, write a novel over the course of their friendship that has since disappeared? The answer could change history, and finding it proves an irresistible challenge for Ana Harding, the translator Katya hires. Increasingly drawn into Zinaida and Chekhov’s world, Ana is consumed by her desire to find the “lost” book. As she delves deeper into the moving account of two lives changed by a meeting on a warm May night, she discovers that the manuscript is not the only mystery contained within the diary’s pages.

Inspired by the real friendship between Chekhov and the Lintvaryov family, landowners in the Ukraine, The Summer Guest is a masterful and utterly compelling literary novel that breathes life into a vanished world, while exploring the transformative power of art and the complexity of love and friendship.

Buy the book:  Harper Collins   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

9d1d2272-3ed4-45bf-ad2f-1d6891930112Meet the author:  Alison Anderson spent many years in California; she now lives in a Swiss village and works as a literary translator. Her translations include Europa Editions’ The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, and works by Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clézio. She has also written two previous novels and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Translation Fellowship. She has lived in Greece and Croatia, and speaks several European languages, including Russian.

Connect with the author:   Website   

REVIEW:

please remember me…

A testament to friendship, this novel encompasses the lives of three women, a young woman doctor from the 1880’s living in the Ukraine, a Russian émigré living in modern day London and a translator living in France.

The diary of doctor Zinaida Lintvaryova captivates Ana. She  is requested by Katya of Pollyana Press  to translate Zinaida’s diary from Russian into English.  The presence of Anton Pavlovich, a renowned Russian writer and playwright in Zinaida’s diary piques Ana’s curiosity as she continues to translate conversations held between the two.

The gentle prose and Zinaida’s reflections about her own short future and her friendship with Anton Pavlovich draw you into their intimate and sometimes frustrating relationship.

Three different stories with a common thread throughout and a surprising ending will keep you turning the pages until the end of the book.  A lovely combination historical fiction, memoir and literary fiction.

Tour schedule:

Tuesday, May 24th: BookNAround
Wednesday, May 25th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, May 26th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, May 27th: Curling Up by the Fire
Monday, May 30th: Books on the Table
Wednesday, June 1st: Just One More Chapter
Thursday, June 2nd: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Monday, June 6th: Reading Reality
Tuesday, June 7th: A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, June 8th: #redhead.with.book
Wednesday, June 8th: Emerald City Book Review
Thursday, June 9th: Olduvai Reads
Monday, June 13th: A Book Geek
Monday, June 13th: Reading to Distraction
Wednesday, June 15th: Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, June 16th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Friday, June 17th: I’m Shelf-ish

tlc-logo-resized