Monday, 3 January 2011

Book of the Week - A.D.Miller, Snowdrops

A new year and a new reading list to be constructed. My first choice this year is a first novel, Snowdrops by A.D.Miller, set in post-communist Russia. Its title comes from a slang word used to describe bodies which appear when the snow thaws in spring. Miller was born in London in 1974 and studied literature at Cambridge and Princeton, where he began his journalistic career writing travel pieces about America. Returning to London, he worked as a television producer before joining The Economist to write about British politics and culture. In 2004 he became The Economist's correspondent in Moscow, travelling widely across Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is currently the magazine's Britain editor.

Snowdrops is Miller's first novel, although he is also the author of the non-fiction The Earl of Petticoat Lane,” a family history about love, friendship, memory, immigration, class, the Blitz and the underwear industry”, published by William Heinemann in 2006. Snowdrops is published in the UK by Atlantic, and rights have been sold in 22 countries, making it a major debut. Initial reviews have been very positive.

Goldsboro Books produced a 250 copy signed, numbered and dated edition as their Book Club offering for December. This is now sold out, but signed firsts of the Trade edition are available at cover price (12.99) if you look around.

“Nick Platt is an English lawyer living in Moscow during the wild Russian oil boom. Riding the subway on a balmy September day, he rescues two willowy sisters, Masha and Katya, from a would-be purse snatcher.

Nick soon begins to feel something for Masha that he is pleased to believe is love. As the snow starts to fall, the sisters introduce him to Tatiana Vladimirovna, their aged aunt and the owner of a valuable apartment. Before summer arrives, Nick will travel down to the sweaty Black Sea and up to the Arctic, and he'll make disturbing discoveries about his job, his lover and, most of all, himself.

Snowdrops is a fast-paced drama that unfolds during a beautiful but lethally cold Russian winter. Ostensibly a story of naive foreigners and cynical natives, the novel becomes something richer and darker: a tale of erotic obsession, self-deception and moral freefall. It is set in a land of hedonism and desperation, corruption and kindness, magical hideaways and debauched nightclubs; a place where secrets, and corpses, come to light when the snows thaw.”

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