One Night in Winter

Harper. May 2014. 480p. ISBN 9780062291882. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062291905. F
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.]
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing