REVIEW: Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Title: Russian Winter
Author: Daphne Kalotay
Published: April 5th 2011 by Harper Perennia
Pages: 496


The plot of this book is complicated to explain, but I am going to give it a try. The main character in this book is Nina Revskaya. Nina used to be a ballerina in Soviet Russia, but now she lives in Boston and she has become an old lady. She is about to auction off her jewelry collection. Drew Brooks works as an inquisitive associate at a Boston auction house, and has to set up the auction of Nina’s jewelry. And then there is also Grigori Solodin, who is an professor and studies Russian poetry. He was adopted as a child, and he thinks that Nina’s jewelry collection can help him find out who his real parents are. The story takes place from four perspectives: Nina is a ballerina in Soviet Russia, Nina as an old lady in Boston, Drew the inquisitive associate and Grigori the professor. I can’t really tell more about the plot without spoiling anything, so this short synopsis will have to do.

Click to check out the page on Goodreads

Click to check out the page on Goodreads

What I liked about the book

The fact that it is about ballet and set in Russia was the reason I picked this book up in the first place. I find the Russian history very interesting, and I love ballet. I used to do ballet as a little kid, and I still regret the fact that I didn’t continue with it. I make myself believe that if I didn’t quit, I would have been pretty good by now. (;
Another thing I liked about this book is the structure. The books starts with the old Nina in Boston who is about to auction her jewelry. This brings back all sorts of memories about her childhood and her career as a ballerina in Soviet Russia. The story alternates between old Nina and young Nina, and between those stories there are two more stories intertwined: Drew’s story and Grigori’s story. I really like the way Daphne Kalotay used the alternation between different perspectives to unravel some mysteries around for example Nina’s jewerlry collection and Grigori’s parents.
Something else I really liked about Russian Winter is that it is not predictable. At some points in the book I thought I knew what was going to happen, but most of the time I turned out the be wrong. The author was really creative which resulted in some unexpected plot twists.

What I did not like about the book

There were a few minor things I didn’t like about the book. The first thing is the beginning of the book. It didn’t hook me from the first page, but it took around 100 pages to gain my interest. But after that, I couldn’t put this book down anymore. It starts off a little slow, but the rest of the book makes up for that.
One other thing I didn’t really like, and the reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5, was the ending. I expected the book to end with a certain conclusion, but that didn’t happen. It ended rather abruptly, and it left me with some questions. At the moment I finished the book, I was a bit disappointed that the scene I expected didn’t come, but looking back I think it was a good decision of the author, because it left me thinking about the book and imagining my own ending. But I would have liked another ending.

Would I recommend this book?

If you’re interested in Russian history, historical fiction in general, or ballet I’d definitely recommend this book! It is a great story about how the lives of different people can intertwine. If you’re looking for a book with a lot of action, I wouldn’t recommend this book though. The book is great, but not full of action.


Favorite quotes

“…there are only two things that really matter in life. Literature and love.”

“Just like with love. It’s all or nothing. … That’s why love is dangerous. We stand up for love. We take risks. Well, you of all people know about that – your own Soviet Russia, an entire nation rearranged to discourage love for anything other than one’s country.’
Because love caused people to think for themselves, to look out for themselves and their loved ones.”

“One needed, she saw now, only a few belongings, just as one needed only a few close friends, and a single passion – it need not be a person, neccissarily.”



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