Beautifully written and intricately layered, Russian Winter is the story of a woman who tries to forget her past, and the people who won't let her. A wonderful find for lovers of literary historical fiction, particularly people who enjoyed Kate Morton's Forgotten Garden.
Once a celebrated ballerina at the Bolshoi Ballet in former Soviet Russia, Nina now lives alone in a tiny, Boston apartment, wasting away her last years in self-inflicted bitterness and seclusion. A striking, Baltic amber pendant holds the weight of Nina Revskaya's past, a burden that after 50 years, she can no longer bear. Hoping for emotional peace, Nina donates the pendant, along with the rest of her prized jewelry, to a Boston-area auction house. The donation catches the attention of Grigori Solodin, a Russian literature professor living in Boston who, mysteriously, has the matching pieces. But Nina refuses Grigori's attempts to contact her and denies that they have any connection.
Kalotay weaves together three fascinating stories: Nina's life in Stalin's Soviet Union with her poet husband, Victor Elsin, and other friends in the repressed artistic elite; Drew Brooks, the inquisitive auction house appraiser struggling to face her own fears; and Grigori, the young widower who has dedicated his life to studying Victor Elsin's work, convinced it contains answers to his own past.
Other than a few slow parts, this book totally engulfed me. The mystery kept me guessing until the very end, and Kalotay's imagery was almost palpable. This book was also read in one of our many book discussion groups. Join the fun! Click here for more information.
Recommended by Leah Youse