Thursday, June 5, 2014

One Night in Winter - Simon Sebag Montefiore

One Night in Winter
I almost did not get to participate in this book tour. TLC Book Tours graciously adjusted my tour date after Simon Sebag Montefiore's novel took a scenic route to arrive on my doorstep. Before we got things worked out, I almost bowed out of the tour completely. I am so grateful I did not.

The book is set in the USSR, not long after the completion of WWII. The characters all exist in the twisted upper echelon of Stalin's society. Montefiore focuses on a group of school children who attend the most elite school in the capitol. Their parents, some of whom also play a role in the tale, are nearly all powerful political figures, some close to Stalin himself.

While the book is historical fiction, its events are easily imaginable in their context. Two teenagers end up dead on the street and the resulting investigation reaches deep, exposing secrets, lies, true loyalties, and crumbling familial relationships.

Montefiore obviously did his research. The book contains some actual historical figures, such as Stalin, as well as a cast of fictional creations. He has a nice list at the front of the book to help you keep track. Why every author doesn't do that, I'll never know. I find it so convenient and helpful, particularly when the character names are not as culturally familiar. 

I felt that this book had a really nice weight to it. Not the actual physical size, although that if nothing to scoff at itself. What I mean is, the story had the appropriate amount of gravitas balanced with some levity. It's a tough plot, no doubt. Anything involving imprisoned children being interrogated or the delicate balance of trying to survive in the Soviet world is bound to be depressing at times. Still, Montefiore does well keeping things from getting overly gruesome and he balances despair with hope and love for his characters.

Simon Sebag
It's always nice to see an author dive into a world they obviously care about and about which they are well informed. Montefiore's body of work demonstrates his interest in the Soviet era. When you couple that with a natural gift for the written word, you invite a whole new audience to share in the author's interests. This is what I love about good fiction. It teaches you about things and worlds you may otherwise have never known and it does so in an enjoyable fashion.

I definitely recommend One Night in Winter. It appeals to a wide audience, though I make no professions that all readers would enjoy it. I plan on passing it on to Kevin, so you know that means I both enjoyed it and think it will be enjoyable enough for him to make it through as well. Always a good sign...

Pages: 480
Date Completed: May 16, 2014

*To read what others are saying about One Night in Winter, check out the full tour schedule.*

1 comment:

  1. I love it when an author's love of a particular topic draws readers in. Thanks for being a part of the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.