I really enjoyed Russian Winter, the first published novel by Daphne Kalotay. Kalotay is a skillful writer. She blends the past with the present so well.
Nina Revskaya is a Russian ballerina who escaped from Stalin’s Soviet Union in the early 1950’s. Now in her 80’s and living in Boston, Revskaya is auctioning off her extraordinary jewelry collection for the benefit of the Boston Ballet.
Each chapter is highlighted by the auction house description of a piece of jewelry; some worth hundreds of dollars, some tens of thousands. Through flashbacks and scenes in the present, we learn how Revskaya obtained each piece of jewelry. Intertwined with her story is that of Grigori Solodin, a professor of Russian who owns a companion piece to Revskaya’s set of amber jewelry. Solodin anonymously donates his piece to the auction in hopes of getting Revskaya’s attention. He had previously tried to contact her, since he believes they have a familial connection. Solodin is adopted and knows nothing of his birth parents.
Holding the novel together is Drew Brooks, an associate at the auction house. She is interested in Solodin’s piece of jewelry, and how it fits into the set and how Solodin obtained it. Drew has no better luck than Solodin in questioning Revskaya about the piece but, with Solodin’s help, is able to research and reach some conclusions.
I highly recommend Russian Winter.
Published in hardcover-Harper-2010
Softcover edition-Harper Collins-2010
Russian Winter: A Novel (P.S.)