Author: Daphne Kalotay
About: The story of a Russian ballerina who becomes a star of the Bolshoi Ballet, falls in love with a poet and tries to live the best life possible under Stalin’s rule until that is no longer possible.
My thoughts: This is one of those novels that pulled me in immediately and kept me interested throughout. Daphne Kalotay’s descriptive writing immersed me in life in post WW II Russia – especially what it was like for people in the arts. I felt like I was in the audience watching Nina Revskaya dance in Swan Lake. I could imagine falling asleep at the dacha listening to the nightingale sing. I could even visualize the working crews of women smoothing asphalt on the roads.
Once Nina defects from Russia she travels to London, Paris and finally Boston. She smuggled her jewels with her when she left and now, decades later, crippled and in a wheelchair, she has decided to have her collection auctioned with the proceeds going to the local ballet. The jewels have stories of their own that connect several characters in the novel.
One of the characters is Grigori, a professor of Romance languages in Boston. He has a pendant that he believes is part of Nina’s collection and is trying to find out what the connection is. He has his own assumptions and he would like Nina to confirm them. He has contacted her a few times over the past few decades and each time she has refused to discuss her past or the jewels.
As the auction of the jewels draws near Nina finds herself remembering her past more and more. There are a few twists and turns near the end and Grigori and Drew, who works for the auction house, make their own discoveries which converge in a satisfying conclusion.
Source: Dawn from She Is Too Fond Of Books sent me her review copy. Thank you, Dawn!
Recommend? Yes, especially to fans of historical fiction.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars