Friday, March 21, 2014

One Night In Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore

If your children were forced to testify against you, what terrible secrets would they reveal?

Moscow 1945. As Stalin and his courtiers celebrate victory over Hitler, shots ring out. On a nearby bridge, a teenage boy and girl lie dead.

But this is no ordinary tragedy and these are no ordinary teenagers, but the children of Russia's most important leaders who attend the most exclusive school in Moscow.

Is it murder? A suicide pact? Or a conspiracy against the state?

Directed by Stalin himself, an investigation begins as children are arrested and forced to testify against their friends - and their parents. This terrifying witch-hunt soon unveils illicit love affairs and family secrets in a hidden world where the smallest mistakes will be punished with death.
I was looking forward to reading One Night in Winter.  It has great reviews on Goodreads and has all the elements that I love in a historical fiction. However I just couldn't get into this book at all. Maybe it was because I don't know much about Russian history and Stalin.  

But I think more than anything it was the abundance of characters that seemed poorly developed.   And when I say abundance of characters I mean a total of 57!  The author even puts a list at the start of the book so you can keep them all straight.  But who wants to continually flip to the front of the book to keep everything straight? On top of that they all seem to have nicknames.  It was just exhausting.  

It is writen in 3rd person multiple points of view.  The issue is the voices weren't balanced.  I would get really interested in one story and then the author would switch and not come back to the previous character for pages and pages.  Other characters he just had a paragraph or two.  It left me feeling like the story wasn't well rounded.

I am the minority when it comes to not liking this book.  So if historical fiction is your thing be sure to check out the other reviews.  It might be just the book for you.

I'm linking up, come join us!
The Friday 56, Book Beginnings, Literary Friday
 Book Beginnings
The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable.  To an ordinary historian, it would have looked no different from hundreds of other manuscripts in Oxford's Bodleian Library.

Friday 56
The daemon's eyes were focused on a spot in the middle of the room. "Of course, you're a witch,too. Perhaps it's wrong to talk to you.  I would have thought you of all witches would be able to figure out how they did it thought..."


gautami tripathy said...

Great beginning and 56!

Here is my Book Beginning post!


Here is my Friday 56

JC Jones said...

Discovery of Witches is one of my favorite books. Looking forward the book three coming out soon. Here is my post: Mixed Book Bag

Sandra Nachlinger said...

Although ONE NIGHT IN WINTER sounds like a fascinating story, I'd have a problem with that many characters too! What a shame.
The opening of A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES made me wonder what sets that volume apart from the other manuscripts. I'm curious!
My Friday excerpts are from a short story this week: INTERCEPTION.

LindyLou Mac said...

Calling by from Literary Friday, I like the sound of this one and will be adding the title to my wishlist. I am already a fan of his wife's novels. :)

Beth W said...

It sounds like a lot of characters to track! I enjoy ensemble character books, but after about 20 I don't think the author can devote enough time to develop more. I like the concept (is this a true event that happened in Russia?), and it sounds like it has the potential to be compelling. Hrmmm....thanks for sharing!

Lisa Mandina said...

Haven't read Discovery of Witches yet, but hear great things about it. Interesting 56!
Check out my Friday 56.

fredamans said...

I have A Discovery of Witches waiting to be read!

Happy weekend!

Izzybeads by Laney said...

I really struggle with books that give so many characters that you have to flip to the front to remind yourself who they are, but I do love historical fiction, I will keep an eye out for this book but from the sound of it 56 characters might have me running the other way :(

Art @ Home said...

Super review! I think the multiple POV's would discourage me as well as so many characters at the beginning of the book!

However, you are reading one of my favorites: A Discovery of Witches. I'm obsessed with Matthew Clairmont. I hope you enjoy it!


PS Thanks for linking-up!