Saturday, November 13, 2010
Cozy up with 'Russian Winter' this winter
Daphne Kalotry has crafted an epic, powerful novel that unfolds in the artists’ community during Stalin’s repressive regime and resolves, finally, in Boston. Nina Revskaya, once a prima ballerina for the Bolshoi, who escaped to the West in the 1950s, in her declining years decides to auction off her jewels to benefit the Boston Ballet Foundation. Ostensibly prompted by altruism and love of the art, privately Revskaya wishes to tie up all the messy emotional loose ends of her life and to put ghosts and bitterness and regrets to rest. Eager young auction house associate Drew Brooks however, is inspired to research and dig and publicize the rare pieces in the ballerina’s collection – including an amber bracelet and earring set – which prompts an anonymous donor to bring forth a pendant that is a probably part of the original set. Brooks unwittingly sets into motion the unraveling of secrets and mysteries that have profoundly affected the lives of Revskaya, her friends, family and colleagues and which resolve in unexpected ways.
Mystery and intrigue abound in this satisfying first novel as well as a huge, savory dollop of political history. Katotay immerses the reader in the backrooms of the ballet and the auction house and pushes us directly into the middle of erupting social and political change.
This is a perfect read for long winter nights in a snowy cabin or during those 4 hour layovers that often characterize holiday travel. Once you step into the drawing room of Nina Revskaya you will not want to leave until you have heard all of her story.