By Daphne Kalotay
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061962165, 480pp.)
Publication Date: September 2010
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A mysterious jewel holds the key to a life-changing secret, in this breathtaking tale of love and art, betrayal and redemption.
When she decides to auction her remarkable jewelry collection, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Bolshoi Ballet, believes she has finally drawn a curtain on her past. Instead, the former ballerina finds herself overwhelmed by memories of her homeland and of the events, both glorious and heartbreaking, that changed the course of her life half a century ago.
It was in Russia that she discovered the magic of the theater; that she fell in love with the poet Viktor Elsin; that she and her dearest companionsGersh, a brilliant composer, and the exquisite Vera, Ninas closest friendbecame victims of Stalinist aggression. And it was in Russia that a terrible discovery incited a deadly act of betrayaland an ingenious escape that led Nina to the West and eventually to Boston.
Nina has kept her secrets for half a lifetime. But two people will not let the past rest: Drew Brooks, an inquisitive young associate at a Boston auction house, and Grigori Solodin, a professor of Russian who believes that a unique set of jewels may hold the key to his own ambiguous past. Together these unlikely partners begin to unravel a mystery surrounding a love letter, a poem, and a necklace of unknown provenance, setting in motion a series of revelations that will have life-altering consequences for them all.
Interweaving past and present, Moscow and New England, the backstage tumult of the dance world and the transformative power of art, Daphne Kalotays luminous first novela literary page-turner of the highest ordercaptures the uncertainty and terror of individuals powerless to withstand the forces of history, while affirming that even in times of great strife, the human spirit reaches for beauty and grace, forgiveness and transcendence.
DAPHNE KALOTAY, author of the acclaimed Calamity and Other Stories, has a Ph.D. in literature from Boston University, and she has since taught creative writing at Middlebury College, Boston University and Skidmore College. Kalotay has received fellowships from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, Vassar, Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She lives in the Boston area. Visit her online at www.daphnekalotay.com.
- How would you describe Nina Revskaya? What kind a person was she? Do you sympathize with the way events shaped the woman she became? And how would you compare her with Vera Borodina? What exactly was the nature of their friendship? What held them back from sharing their deepest secrets?
?eoeAn exceptional debut novel. . . . Delving into Nina?e(TM)s life with the Bolshoi Ballet, her life among the Soviet Union?e(TM)s artist community and her escape from the Stalinist regime add glamour and historical flavor to this novel of secrets, intrigue and wonderfully described priceless gems.?e
?eoeWith sure and suspenseful artistry, Daphne Kalotay intersperses the unfortunate and tortuous histories of Nina, Elsin, and their artist friends with new discoveries and disclosures. The several stories draw together in a conclusion that is surprising, fitting, and satisfying.?e
?eoePart romance, part mystery, this elegant debut captures the danger?e"and refuge?e"of love in Stalin?e(TM)s era.?e
?eoeThis tale of a Russian ballerina who defected to Boston is a history lesson inside an evocative novel about art and betrayal.?e
?eoeDaphne Kalotay captivates in a soaring debut novel. An elegant, compelling puzzle of family, memory and solitude that brings to life modern-day Boston and postwar Russia through a profound love story. Graceful, moving and unexpected.?e
-Matthew Pearl, New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club
?eoeTender, passionate, and moving, Daphne Kalotay?e(TM)s debut novel about ballet, jewels, love and betrayal is also a delicious form of time travel.?I loved it.?e
-Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
?eoeRUSSIAN WINTER. . . is engaging and affecting. It could well be the debut novel of the year.?e
?eoeA complex story that, in the end, boils down to the simplest of elements: love, fear, disappointment and loss. An auspicious first novel, elegantly written and without a false note.?e
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
?eoeKalotay has created appealing, well-rounded characters in well-researched settings. . . . This is a briskly paced, fresh, and engaging first novel dealing with the pain of loss and the power of love.?e
?eoe[A] magnificent tale of love, loss, betrayal and redemption. . . . The emotional center of the book holds everything together. . . . [A] final riptide of revelations leaves the reader profoundly moved.?e
-Washington Post Book World
?eoeKalotay has brought to life hidden worlds with the verve of an expertly executed tour jeté.?e