#60 – Russian Winter – Daphne Kalotay


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 companions—Gersh, a brilliant composer, and the exquisite Vera, Nina’s closest friend—became victims of Stalinist aggression. And it was in Russia that a terrible discovery incited a deadly act of betrayal—and 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 Kalotay’s luminous first novel—a literary page-turner of the highest order—captures 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 – Publishers Website

Being Ukrainian, I do have somewhat of an affinity to some not all things Russian/ Ukrainian, when I read the synopsis for this book, it really intrigued me.  Not just because it is Russian, but because of the time when Stalin was head of the country, the things that happened to the country and its people.

Nina’s reluctance to tell what happened during this time long ago, what eventually happened to her husband and her friends during this time.  Which is just as painful as the pain she feels in her body from years and years of dancing and training, while becoming one of the more famous dancers you could say that were coming out of Russia at the time.  It is her jewellery that she is auctioning off before she becomes any more ill in her advancing age.

The jewellery also has some sort of hold on another person in Boston –   Grigori Solodin.  Whom Nine doesn’t know, but she will – it will all come out, but is she ready to discuss it? Does time heal all wounds?  Will she have the strength to accept the past and to come to terms with it?  Will she be able to forgive finally?

Daphne’s Website  – Daphne on Facebook – Reading Group Guide


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