Alins's Reviews > Russian Winter

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay
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Dec 07, 2010

really liked it
Read in November, 2010

** spoiler alert ** This debut novel takes an interesting look at the personal consequences of cold war history.
Nina Revskaya is an aging, crippled, former Bolshoi prima ballerina. She has arranged to auction her jewels as a donation to the Boston Ballet. Ostensibly an act of charity, Nina is actually attempting to lay the ghosts of her past. The novel is structured around the intersection of two story lines; the contemporary story involving the jewel auction and Nina's memories of life in the USSR under Stalin.
Although, I found this book to be extremely slow moving, the historical setting and artistic details were enough to hold my interest. Nina was not always a very likable character, but I found her to be completely believable. The tragedy of her past is caused as much by the extreme narcissism of a great artist as by the repressive policies of her government. Kalotay does a great job of describing the social dynamics of an elite ballet company within the context of the privations and paranoia of communist Russia. The contemporary story line was less compelling. It became annoying to have the commonplace issues of the contemporary characters intrude on the more dramatic storyline.
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