Friday, October 7, 2011

Review: The Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay



Publisher: Harper
Pages: 480
Source: Publisher

An innocent little girl was taken to a ballet audition during the Stalin Regime by her mother and her life was changed forever. A mother who had nothing to offer her daughter, attempted to expose her to a world that would hopefully better her life. Her mother never expected Nina’s rise to fame would come so fast. Nina would join the Bolshoi ballet, and train for many years to become the “ Russian butterfly” of the ballet, dancing for Stalin himself. Nina has since left Russian and come to Boston, now living as a recluse, a victim of her own body, suffering from debilitating arthritis. She has become a bitter, lonely old woman. As a retired ballerina, and bound to a wheelchair, Nina hopes to auction all of her jewelry collection. This one situation, threatens to uncover her past, filled with dark secrets, and an unbelievable history. Nina desires to quiet her past, but her memories never go away and now more than ever her past catches up with her. Drew Brooks, a representative from the auction house has a few questions, and when Grigori Solodin comes forth as an “anonymous donor” with a matching piece of jewelry from Nina’s collection, many questions begin to fly around. The necklace provided by Grigori was given to him by his adoptive parents said to have been from his birth mother, and the jewelry provided by Nina comes from her husband’s estate. Grigori believes that this will uncover his family history and he believes Nina is the key individual who can help unveiling his past. Nina on the other hand is not interested in helping, she remains mum, and begins to reflect on her past. Her memories come in flashes, her whirlwind life as a prima ballerina was both thrilling, and draining. This is a story consisting of admiration, jealousy, mistrust and split-second decisions.


This is one novel I wanted to love, I expected so much from it and I felt like it fell flat. The story itself was interesting, the writing was superb but the plot seemed to drag. I felt like it would take forever to progress with the story line. I do admit, the twists and turns are not predictable, and very engaging. The story shifts between post World War II Russia and present-day Boston. A day in the life of a ballerina, living during Stalin’s regime was compelling, and the historical details were plentiful. As much as I liked, not loved this novel- Kalotay’s debut novel is unquestioningly very impressive, her writing is superior and style very unique. I think this was simply a case of, “a reader expecting too much from a novel.” I will try this one again another time, and hopefully I will enjoy it much more. I will not discourage you from reading this one, I’ve read too many positive reviews to deter anyone. I’m just warning you not to expect too much.

12 comments:

  1. Aww, it's too bad you didn't like it that much! The summary sounds so intriguing, but I agree with you completely when you say that dragging plots are harder to get into. That's the downside of having high expectations -- it's so much easier to be disapointed!

    Still, awesome review, Mrs. Q! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh I hate when that happens. Sometimes I know I would have enjoyed the book so much more if it hadn't been SO hyped up. I have to say I like this cover better than the original one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This does sound like an interesting book, sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it as much as you hoped you would.

    ReplyDelete
  4. When I read the summary, I was sold. Now that I read your review, maybe not so much. I hate when the plot drags. I want a plot that keeps me from putting the book down.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have this book but haven't read it yet. Thanks for the heads-up about it dragging a bit. I can take slowness if the book is interesting overall.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great honest take. I hate when I want to love something and don't.

    Side note: I adore this cover.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a disappointment. I expected this to be a great book too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Every book isn't for everybody. And that's okay. I liked your review.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have heard others say a lot of the things that you did about this book, and my copy has been languishing because of that. I will probably be reading it, but I am not sure when. Thanks for your honest appraisal on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I do think I would enjoy this book, but, yes then that but comes in. It seemed to fall apart for you and I just do not know. I want a lot from fiction

    ReplyDelete
  11. I tend to think that books like these with historical themes just make us think they have to be super fantastic. It's a shame you didn't enjoy this one as much as you anticipated. The story does sound really interesting though. Thanks for stopping by. Am following you in return.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wait a minute do I have this one?? Going to check the dark halls of my basement now. Loved the review :)

    ReplyDelete