Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Russian WinterIn the middle of the 20th century, when communist Russia and indeed all of Eastern Europe held out bleak hope for its people — where lines were long, comforts few, and the weather and buildings seemed to be unrelentingly gray — there was a shining light and beauty in the Bolshoi Ballet, and Nina Revskaya was its star. This is her story.

As a young woman, Nina managed to escape Russia and defect to the U.S., ending up in Boston. As the novel begins, Nina is well into the last years of her life. She’s decided to auction her jewelry to benefit the Boston Ballet, and she knows both its connection to her fame and its intrinsic value will bring in a significant sum. What she doesn’t know is that a man, Grigori Solodin, who believes that they have an important familial connection, owns a unique piece of amber jewelry that completes one of her sets.

Enter young Drew Brooks, who is hired by the auction house to research background on the various pieces of jewelry, and Nina herself, for the development of a catalog. As Drew begins her research, which includes interviews with Nina, she comes into contact with Grigori, and the mystery of Nina and Grigori’s full past comes to light.

With narrative that moves elegantly from past to present, in Nina’s voice, then Drew’s, then Grigori’s, the reader is swept along through the Bolshoi, a tremendous and heartbreaking love story, and a mystery that unfolds slowly and unpredictably. The layers of time, voice, loyalty, and betrayal will keep book club readers talking for hours.

HarperCollins; ISBN 978-0-06196-217-2; $14.99.
Russian Winter: Reading Guide

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