Author: Daphne Kalotay
Published: Harper, 2010
Russian Winter tells the story of Nina Revskya, a famous (though fictional) Russian ballet dancer in the 1950s. She has a fabulous career in one of Russia's most prestigious ballet companies and is married to a famous poet. However, she is becoming increasingly aware and uncomfortable in the Soviet lifestyle under Stalin's rule. When friends and family members are arrested or killed, and along with a personal tragedy, Nina makes a daring escape out of Russia and ends up settling in Boston. In the present, octogenarian Nina is in a tangle with a jeweler (Drew) and a Russian language professor (Grigori) who both have interest in jewelry that Nina brought over in her escape from Russia. All three of these character's pasts and futures play a part in each others' stories. I'll admit that I didn't care very much for Drew's story line; it was no where near as interesting or emotional as Nina or Grigori's, but it still added a nice touch.
In doing some research, I found out that "Russian Winter" is an actual military term used to describe the advantage Russia has against invaders in the fact that it's just so darn cold there. Foreign machinery and men don't stand a chance. In fact, Napoleon Bonaparte lost more than half a million soldiers marching in Russia in the dead of winter. (History lesson over now!)
Overall, Russian Winter was fabulous. It took me about 50 pages or so to really get into the story, but once it picked up, it was hard to set the book down! Another note is the ending: it was SO abrupt. I turned the page, expecting more....and there was nothing. It wasn't a cliffhanger or anything...it was just very sudden and felt odd. Still, 4.5 stars to a beautiful and haunting story.