Russian Winter
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Russian Winter

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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  5,631 ratings  ·  984 reviews
When Nina Revskaya puts her remarkable jewelry collection up for auction, the former Bolshoi Ballet star finds herself overwhelmed by memories of her homeland, and of the events, both glorious and heartbreaking, that changed her life half a century earlier. It was in Russia that she discovered the magic of dance and fell in love, and where, faced with Stalinist aggression,...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Harper Perennial (first published September 7th 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Susan
Our faculty had an interesting discussion about Russian Winter last week. All enjoyed it very much, some were disappointed in the end (no spoiler) just thought it ended too abruptly. Characters were well drawn and there was an interesting mix of types, all unique and human. One gets a real sense of the lack of privacy and constant prying of Soviet eyes on its citizens in the era of the late 40's and early 50's. Nina, Paulina and Vera also take us into the grueling and competitive world of the Bo...more
Stephanie D.
I love novels that unfold the way Russian Winter by Daphne Kolatay did - shrouded in a mystery that's slowly, tantalizingly revealed through multiple narratives and flashbacks.

The story starts out simply enough: Nina, a former Bolshoi ballerina is putting up her jewels for auction. As Nina inventories her jewels, she also reluctantly inventories her life - setting in motion a painful remembrance of her past in communist Russia and who she left when she defected: her husband, the handsome poet;...more
Terry Regan
Unknown to most Americans, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin caused the great famine of the early 1930's resulting in the death of millions of his own people. By "liquidating the Kulaks as a class" Stalin may have eliminated the more prosperous and conservative farmers in the Ukraine, and it led to the establishment of collective farms and chaos in the countryside. The loss of over twenty million Soviet citizens during the "Great Patriotic War" combined with the massive physical destruction of th...more
Felice
The cover got me. I had to stop and look. It's pretty isn't it? Even though there is nothing at all original about the art. The cover beckons but alas it does not fulfill. It's unfinished. It's the start of a beautiful cover and yet it's oddly blank. The flat clarity of the figure verses the worn depth of the background surface don't mesh. They fight each other instead of complimenting each other. Sadly that turned out to be a prophecy for the novel.


Russian Winter is a cradle to grave story of...more
Jessica
I enjoyed this story, the way the author was able to weave at least two of the main characters' stories together so artfully--Drew is more tangential to my mind, though I was gunning for her (and her intended) from early on. Her story, though, isn't as compelling by far as Grigori's and Nina's. However, a good story, and I learned a vast amount about Soviet Russia, jewels, and the ballet. I watched Black Swan during the reading of this novel, and the two worked strangely well together.
CJC
Well it seems I may be in the minority here but I did not love this book. It had so much potential! I appreciate that the author tried to tie the 2 stories together but the Boston bits ruined the rest of it.

In fairness much of what I didn’t like is personal preference. I hate the formula used here. Tell a little bit, just when it gets interesting, switch to something else. To me it feels like someone taunting ‘I know something you don’t know’, and all I can think is ‘fine if you don’t want to te...more
Sarah
I was hooked on this book by page 80. If you like the arts, ballet, Russian history or all three you will love this book. The book takes place in post-war Russia but the narration switches between history and modern day as the author weaves three main characters' lives together. I found this book to be profound and, while a work of fiction, is probably very close to lives other post-war Soviets lived. I loved the little nuggets of ballet terminology and I thought the lot descriptions in between...more
Karen
Sep 05, 2010 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone and book clubs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Holly Weiss
Why is the pendant worn backwards...and which woman wears it?

The cover of Russian Winter beguiled me, but did not answer the many questions that hammered at my brain as Nina’s story unfolded. I paid diligent attention to the carefully spun-out clues in the novel and was spellbound until the end. Sometimes we savor a book—read a bit, then put it away until tomorrow so that it may be pondered. Not so with Russian Winter. I was swept away and contentedly disconnected from the rest of my life for th...more
Kristin
2.5 stars
I was all set to love this book as it had a lovely cover, an intriguing title, perfect setting and history but boy did it disappoint! Failed completely in the character department. I despised every relationship in this novel except maybe that of Nina and her caregiver Cynthia. I hate it when the whole crux of a book relies on minor characters who suddenly become very important at the end when you never even cared about them much anyway. Also, Nina was just SO oblivious and stupid that I...more
C.W.
Daphne Kalotay's novel RUSSIAN WINTER is a masterfully crafted novel of loss and redemption, set in an unusual historical time period and interweaving two connected stories. In present day Boston, famous Russian ballerina, Nina Revskaya, who defected from the Soviet Union at the height of her fame, is preparing to auction off her dazzling jewelry collection, including three beautiful amber pieces set in gold. Nina is now a recluse, crippled by arthritis and the weight of her mysterious past - a...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Daphne Kalotay imbues the crowd-pleasing qualities of commercial fiction with a soft and sensuous literary touch in this novel of exile and family, love and betrayal. From the Stalinist aggression of Russia to the peaceful, snowy streets of Boston, the reader is taken on a page-turning journey of professional ballet, fancy jewels, and ethereal poetry. This is an historical romance written by a scholar to appeal to readers seeking a satisfying escape.

As the novel opens in contemporary Boston, Dre...more
Rusty
A famous ballerina is selling her jewelry to benefit the Boston ballet. Nina Revskya is ill, in pain, and confined to a wheelchair. However, her decision to auction her jewels opens past memories that she would prefer to forget. The novel moves back and forth between her past and the present. The present is likewise divided between Nina's thoughts and emotions and that of the young woman, Drew Brooks, who is researching and evaluating the collection plus the reactions of a professor, Grigori Sol...more
Jane
The story begins in Boston.

Nina Revskaya was elderly and frail, but once she had been a prima ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet. She had decided to auction her jewellery collection to raise funds for the Boston Ballet Foundation, and that was stirring up memories.

Memories of life of Russia, of the days when she rose to success, when she fell in love and married the poet, Viktor Elsin. Many memories she would rather forget, and memories she did certainly not want to share.

Young associate Drew Bro...more
Amy
Russian Winter is an engrossing fiction novel from Daphne Kalotay that combines personal history with notorious events in human history. Flashbacks from Stalin-era Russia combine with the modern life of a Russian defector, Nina Revskaya, once famous as a Bolshoi ballerina. As she enters her final years, she decides to have a Sotheby's-style auction house sell her gems...purportedly to donate the funds to the Arts. However, it soon becomes clear that she has more personal reasons to divest of the...more
Marija Atanasova
Просечна, анемична книга, една од оние за кои не би сакале да напишете мислење, да не е впрочем, причината поради која сте решиле да отворите портфолио со краток коментар за секоја прочитана книга.Идејата потекнува баш од, и за овој тип книги- кои се читаат лесно, се паметат бегло недела-две и се забораваат брзо, лесно коа два и два.Книги кои не се истакнуваат ни по добро, ни по лошо, наменети за во автобус или плажа, книги кои да се актери би биле статисти.
Дафне Калотеј, веројатно е една фина...more
Staci
May 05, 2011 Staci rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Staci by: TLC Book Tour
My Thoughts: I was pulled into this story from the very first chapter. The whole premise of the book intrigued me from the beginning and I have to say that the author delivered a stellar read. I especially enjoyed how the author weaved Nina's past into her present. It came together cohesively and really added that extra special layer to this story. The jewels had me mesmerized and I often found my mind wandering as to what they looked like and feeling a sort of attachment to them. Strange, huh?...more
Diane D.
Nov 28, 2010 Diane D. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ballet lovers; those interested in Eastern European history
Recommended to Diane D. by: Goodreads
Shelves: library-books
This is one of those sagas that starts at present and weaves back and forth so that the past recollections eventually give us the answers to the beginning of the story.

Part of the enjoyment in the present-day story is that it is set in the City of Boston, particularly in the Back Bay and Beacon Hill. Having lived in Boston, and since the author lives in that area, all of the writing was accurate and very easy for me to imagine.

Another draw for me is that it is a story of the ballet, which I love...more
Laura
I got a free ARC of this book from the publisher. Thanks!
I stayed up late to finish this book on a work night, a sure sign of a great read. This novel shuttles back and forth between the present (well, 2003) and the Soviet Union in the early 1950s. In the present, former ballerina Nina Revskaya decides to sell her jewelry collection, which sets into motion a mystery plot and a love story. In the past, we learn about Nina's rise from ballet student to prima ballerina. But most compellingly, we re...more
Catherine Shattuck
Having lived briefly in Russia, I was, after many many years, interested in reading about it. This is one of maybe two books I've ever read that was set in Russia but not written by one of The Great Russian Writers of the 19th or 20th centuries. While I don't think there's anything special in the writing itself, or even in the story (a bit of a mystery that links an aging ballerina who defected in the 1950s with a professor of Russian language and literature in the US; a story that felt mildly p...more
Carol
Welcome back to the time of the Cold War and into the life of Nina Revskaya & her life as a prima ballerina in Moscow at a time when no one trusted even their best friends. This novel finds Nina, now 80 yrs. old and crippled with arthritis, looking back on her life. She now lives in Boston & is haunted by her past and troubled by the existence of Grigori Solodin, a professor at a Boston Univ. and searching for his birth parents and his history. What is the connection between them? This i...more
Katherine
This book captivated me from cover to end. The cover is beautiful and it made me notice it. From that beginning it never disapoints. The story unfolds in small details all along the way. Little by little you learn more about the people that this story holds. It also has a few surprises along the way. I don't want to give too much away but I'm not usually very happy with endings like this but in this case it works. I don't feel a void, I feel hope for the future. Finally if you learn nothing else...more
Dem
This book is a magnificent historical fiction novel set in Russia. I didn't want to put this book down. I was really drawn in by the histroy and glamor, the characters were very real and I found the writing clear, concise and easy to follow, I really recommend this book, its a real page turner.
Ellen
I LOVED this book - the ballet, the auction world, the complex and believable characters. Highly recommend!
Tori
Probably 4.5 stars. Maybe even 5 stars, the more I think about it. I don't know - dumb thing but I didn't like the title or the cover of the book. There was lot more to this book than I would have expected, judging by its cover.

This story is told through multiple viewpoints. Nina Revskaya was a premier ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet during the Stalin era. We learn about her life and loves during that period, and also see her in her 80's, a kind of prickly old woman in Boston. We also have the...more
Alayne Bushey
I’ve always enjoyed novels set in Russia. Something about the tragic mystery of the Romanov’s, the colorful spiraling St. Basil Cathedral towers, and the romance of softly falling snow and fur muffs. Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay is all those beautiful sensations rolled into one, with the fabulous addition of ballerinas and antique jewels.

Alternating between present day Boston and 1950s Russia, Russian Winter is the story of once famous ballerina, Nina Revskaya, and the trials she endured whi...more
Becomingme
I really liked this book, though I will admit at the beginning, it was a bit dull as it took awhile for the story to wind up. I was also a bit disappointed that the climax of the plot happened so close the end of the book that there not a lot of resolution...I wanted to hear more about what happened to Gregori, Drew, and Nina. If Ms. Kalotay extended the ending just a bit, it would have made it so much better(and perhaps 5 stars). However, the story was intriguing, the characters rich and comple...more
Jo Anne B
A beautifully written novel about a post World War II Soviet Russian ballerina's desire to sell her jewels she received as a gift from her late husband.

I felt captured from the very beginning of this novel. It is told from the perspective of three characters unknowingly all connected to each other and Soviet Russia, despite living in modern day Boston. I liked all three characters. They are all haunted by their pasts and because of that they have a problem trusting in true love. Each has a passi...more
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Daphne Kalotay grew up in New Jersey, where her parents had relocated from Ontario; her mother is Canadian, while her father came from Hungary to Canada as a teen. Daphne attended Vassar College, majoring in psychology, before moving to Boston to attend Boston University's graduate program in fiction writing. She stayed on at BU to study with Saul Bellow as part of the University Professors progra...more
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“...She looked at the people around her and felt not just that she was surrounded by strangers, but that she herself was strange, somehow, that something kept her from ever fully bridging the gap between who she was and who all these other people, making their way through the very same day, were.” 29 likes
“It wasn't that she didn't believe in love; but she no longer believed in it for herself.” 25 likes
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