Russian Winter, Daphne Kalotay

An aging ballerina has a secret past. It has returned to haunt her in her vintage. Now living in the United States, she runs from her Russian past and decides to sell part of her jewelry collection; some of the pieces have a hidden meaning, causing her grief. The mystery begins to unfold when she is interviewed by a young woman, Drew Brooks, about the valuable pieces she has decided to sell. The difference between the healthy interviewer who is possessed of a vitality she can barely contain, who is just beginning to live, and the frail, former dancer whose pained and crippled body keeps her bound to a wheelchair, is stark and powerful.
Anonymously, another necklace is donated to the jewelry auction, and with it comes a mystery. How did this piece become separated from the matching earrings that Nina Revskaya has given them? Is there a deeper secret meaning to its presence? Does Nina have any information about it? She says no but therein lies the mystery. Unless it is a copy or a forgery, it must be related to her own pieces and her ignorance about the necklace is in question. Is this rare piece of amber, with a fossil embedded inside it, real or a fake?
Meanwhile, as the story moves from the present to the past, a love story develops between Nina and an artist, Victor Elsin. He introduces her to a world she never knew existed. He lives a different kind of life than she does, faster, more involved in the political scene. He lives with his mother, a woman who has never recovered from the changes in Russia or the murder of her husband, a woman who lives in the past; she believes she is still part of the aristocracy. This is the Russia of decades ago, complete with secret police everywhere. Poverty and hardship are the norm in most circles.
Before she met Victor, her world was only dancing. She had no social life; her days revolved around studying dance, practicing dance and going home to her mother, a gentle woman who quietly encourages her to succeed and improve her lot in life. A chance invitation to perform at a party, when the original star could not perform, opened up this door to broader horizons and introduced her to Victor. Their love flowers and shortly afterwards, they are married.
The book moves slowly. The mystery of the necklace in the jewelry collection promises to be the thread that will make the story exciting at some point, and pull it all together. Grigori Solodin, the donator of the necklace, with a mystery of his own to solve, will add a little more excitement to the book.
I do like the premise of the novel; the mystery of Nina and her past will be revealed. The people in her past, from whom she has put great distance, will return to haunt her as they seek to reestablish a connection with her. She is somehow, a missing link to other people’s lives.
Although the story is good, there are so many characters to remember and the tale develops so slowly, as it moves from Boston to Moscow and from the present to the past and back again, over and over, that it is difficult to read more than a few pages at a time.


About omasvoice

Who am I? I am you. I am everyone out there who loves to read and discuss and voice an opinion!
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Books for Adults, Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

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