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.