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One Night in Winter
Cover of One Night in Winter
One Night in Winter
A Novel
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Inspired by a true story, prize-winning historian and acclaimed novelist Simon Sebag Montefiore explores the consequences of forbidden love in this heartbreaking epic of marriage, childhood, danger, and betrayal that unfolds in Stalin's Moscow during the bleak days after World War II.

As Moscow celebrates the motherland's glorious victory over the Nazis, shots ring out on the crowded streets. On a nearby bridge, a teenage boy and girl—dressed in traditional nineteenth-century costumes—lie dead. But this is no ordinary tragedy, because these are no ordinary teenagers. As the son and daughter of high-ranking Soviet officials, they attend the most elite school in Moscow. Was it an accident, or murder? Is it a conspiracy against Stalin, or one of his own terrifying intrigues?

On Stalin's instructions, a ruthless investigation begins into what becomes known as the Children's Case. Youth across the city are arrested and forced to testify against their friends and their parents. As families are ripped apart, all kinds of secrets come spilling out. Trapped at the center of this witch-hunt are two pairs of illicit lovers, who learn that matters of the heart exact a terrible price. By turns a darkly sophisticated political thriller, a rich historical saga, and a deeply human love story, Montefiore's masterful novel powerfully portrays the terror and drama of Stalin's Russia.

Inspired by a true story, prize-winning historian and acclaimed novelist Simon Sebag Montefiore explores the consequences of forbidden love in this heartbreaking epic of marriage, childhood, danger, and betrayal that unfolds in Stalin's Moscow during the bleak days after World War II.

As Moscow celebrates the motherland's glorious victory over the Nazis, shots ring out on the crowded streets. On a nearby bridge, a teenage boy and girl—dressed in traditional nineteenth-century costumes—lie dead. But this is no ordinary tragedy, because these are no ordinary teenagers. As the son and daughter of high-ranking Soviet officials, they attend the most elite school in Moscow. Was it an accident, or murder? Is it a conspiracy against Stalin, or one of his own terrifying intrigues?

On Stalin's instructions, a ruthless investigation begins into what becomes known as the Children's Case. Youth across the city are arrested and forced to testify against their friends and their parents. As families are ripped apart, all kinds of secrets come spilling out. Trapped at the center of this witch-hunt are two pairs of illicit lovers, who learn that matters of the heart exact a terrible price. By turns a darkly sophisticated political thriller, a rich historical saga, and a deeply human love story, Montefiore's masterful novel powerfully portrays the terror and drama of Stalin's Russia.

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About the Author-
  • Simon Sebag Montefiore's bestselling books are published in more than forty languages. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Sashenka. As a historian, his works include Jerusalem: The Biography; Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar; and Young Stalin, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Costa Biography Prize (United Kingdom), and Le Grand Prix de Biographie Politique (France). One Night in Winter won the 2014 Political Fiction Book of the Year Prize (United Kingdom) and was long-listed for the Orwell Prize.

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    May 15, 2014

    Award-winning historian Montefiore's second foray into fiction (after Sashenka) revolves around the families of Joseph Stalin's elite cadre of advisers. A group of students at Stalin School 101, the alma mater of Stalin's two children, form a secret club devoted to the poetry of Alexander Pushkin. As teenagers secure in wealth and position, they reenact romantic duels from their favorite poems in fancy dress, oblivious to the suffering and fear building in the postwar Soviet Union. When one of their stunts ends in a fatal shooting, the teens end up in prison. The conspiracy soon engulfs the teens' siblings, parents, and teachers. Secrets, lies, and accusations multiply in a state where everyone is under suspicion. Basing his book on an actual murder case from 1945, Montefiore incorporates fictional families among historical figures such as Stalin and his secret police chief, Lavrentiy Beria. He does an excellent job of portraying the paralyzing tension of powerful high-ranking Soviet officials who are powerless to protect their own families and the chaos of a society where brothers denounce brothers and children denounce parents. VERDICT Highly recommended reading for fans of thrillers, historical fiction, and history. [See Prepub Alert, 11/3/13.]--Catherine Lantz, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Washington Post "As Stalin twists the Children's Case to his own ends, the truly magnetic power of One Night in Winter becomes clear. The stirring of our deepest fears and their unexpected resolution—at this, Montefiore is the master."
  • Wall Street Journal "Enthralling.... Mr. Montefiore, an English writer hailed for his works of history and biography, is masterly at sketching scenes (passionate, melancholy or menacing) and limning characters..."
  • Wall Street Journal, “Best Books of 2014” "This finely written chronicle of privileged adults and children afraid for their lives in the treacherous upper reaches of Stalin's Russia in 1945 is in a league of its own."
  • The Times (London) "Compulsively involving. Our fear for the children keeps up turning the pages.... We follow the passions with sympathy... The knot of events tugs at a wide range of emotions rarely experienced outside an intimate tyranny."
  • Guardian (London) "A gripping thriller about private life and poetic dreams in Stalin's Russia.... [A] pageturner....Whether its subject is power or love, a darkly enjoyable read
  • Caroline Jowett, Daily Express (London) "This tightly written page-turner crackles with authenticity and if you are wiping away a tear by the end it won't be the icy chill of the Soviet winter that's to blame."
  • Jewish Chronicle "Sebag's new novel draws in the reader and renders time meaningless. Brilliantly depicted."
  • Steve Emmett, New York Journal of Books "A novel full of passion, conspiracy, hope, despair, suffering and redemption....One Night in Winter is a gripping read and must surely be one of the best novels of 2013."
  • A. D. Miller, author of Snowdrops "Addictive, uplifting and terrifying."
  • Library Journal "Montefiore...does an excellent job of portraying the paralyzing tension of powerful high-ranking Soviet officials who are powerless to protect their own families.... Highly recommended reading for fans of thrillers, historical fiction, and history."
  • The Observer (London) "Engrossing.... A mix of lovestory, thriller and historical fiction. Montefiore's knowledge of the period helps him bring 1945 Moscow to bleak, fascinating life"
  • Mail on Sunday (London), Novel of the Week "Montefiore writes brilliantly about love, timeless dilemmas, family devotion teenage romance and the grand passion of adultery. Readers of Sebastian Faulks and Hilary Mantel will lap this up."
  • Evening Standard (London) "A thrilling work of fiction. Montefiore weaves a tight, satisfying plot, delivering surprises to the last page. Stalin's chilling charisma is brilliantly realised. The novel's theme is Love: family love, youthful romance, adulterous passion. One Night in Winter is full of redemptive love and inner freedom."
  • The Sunday Telegraph "Seriously good fun...the Soviet march on Berlin, nightmarish drinking games at Stalin's country house, the magnificence of the Bolshoi, interrogations, snow, sex and exile...lust, adultery, and romance. Eminently readable and strangely affecting."
  • The National "Not just a thumpingly good read, but also essentially a story of human fragility and passions."
  • BooksAndWhatNot.com "What happens when you cross Donna Tartt's The Secret History with one of the scariest times in Russian history? You end up with Simon Sebag Montefiore's One Night in Winter....Based in truth, this novel will keep you biting your nails until the very end."
  • Time Out London "Delicately plotted and buried within a layered, elliptical narrative, One Night in Winter is also a ... page-turner which adroitly weaves a huge cast of characters into an arcane world."
  • The Independent, (London) "A compelling read."
  • Sunday Times(London) "Gripping and cleverly plotted. Doomed love at the heart of a violent society is the heart of Montefiore's One Night in Winter.. depicting the Kafkaesque labyrinth into which the victims stumble."
  • Sunday Mail (Scotland) "A tense historical thriller set in a beautifully crafted world.... Moscow in 1945 comes alive in a wholly believable fashion.... A masterpiece of modern historical fiction."
  • Marie Claire (UK) "Snuggle up in front of the fire with a glass of red and this captivating story. A dark...
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