The acclaimed novelist and prizewinning historian Simon Sebag Montefiore explores the consequences of forbidden love in this heartbreaking epic, inspired by a true story that unfolds in Stalin's Russia during the bleak days after World War II.
A jubilant Moscow is celebrating the Soviet Union's victory over Hitler when gunshots ring out though the city's crowded streets. In the shadow of the Kremlin, a teenage boy and girl are found dead. But this is no ordinary tragedy, because these are no ordinary teenagers. As the children of high-ranking Soviet officials, they inhabit a rarefied world that revolves around the exclusive Josef Stalin Commune School 801. The school, which Stalin's own children attended, is an enclave of privilege - but, as the deaths reveal, one that hides a wealth of secrets. Were these deaths an accident, a suicide pact…or murder?
Certain that a deeper conspiracy is afoot, Stalin launches a ruthless investigation. In what comes to be known as the Children's Case, youths from all over Moscow are arrested by state security services and brought to the infamous interrogation rooms of the Lubyanka, where they are forced to testify against their friends and their families. Among the casualties of these betrayals are two pairs of illicit lovers, who find themselves trapped at the center of Stalin's witch hunt. As the Children's Case follows its increasingly terrifying course, these couples discover that the decision to follow one's heart comes at a terrible price.
A haunting evocation of a time and place in which the state colluded to corrupt and destroy every dream, One Night in Winter is infused with the desperate intrigue of a political thriller. The eminent historian Simon Sebag Montefiore weaves fact and fiction into a richly compelling saga of sacrifice and survival, populated by real figures from the past. But within the darkness shines a deeply human love story, one that transcends its moment as it masterfully explores our capacity for loyalty and forgiveness.
©2014 Simon Sebag Montefiore (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
Pretty good, but extremely depressing to listen. Life under Stalin was horrific for many, and the reality described in the book rings very true. Narrator did a terrible job mispronouncing Russian names, and did not bother to to change his voice for the female characters...The writer researched his topic superbly, and the story sounds very believable...Overall, recommend this book.
Truly a moving and heart wrenching story based on true events in Russia. Making children the focus of the brutality of Stalins Russia pierced right into my heart. Simon Prebble the narrator was superb, getting all the voices perfectly. Only flaw was that I never found out who shot the children at the parade.
one of the best- clearly
The book is so compelling. It is an amazing story, made better by the history it is wrapped in. I could not stop listening and felt like I was learning as I was drawn deeper into the story. I finished not just satisfied with an ever deepening plot but also feeling that I had learned something about the Russian people, Outstanding.
This book has the breadth of Tolstoy's masterpiece, the lively cast of wonderful characters, stories of families and lovers against the backdrop of war and oppression. The depiction of Stalin is also brilliant. Montefiore weaves poetry and literature into a fascinating and at times tragic tale with plenty of twists and turns. The narrator is very good, and would be perfect if he could pronounce all those Russian words properly. I highly recommend this book. It is one of the best I have read in many years.
The story is about what happens to children of privileged parents who attend a prestigious school, School 801, in Moscow. They are brought to school in expensive Western Limousines, The time is 1945 and everyone is eager for the victory parade. The children in school have created a play-acting club devoted to Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. They dress up in period costumes and reenact Onegin’s shooting of Lensky. When they go to attend the victory parade in their period costumes they reenact the shooting but this time there are real bullets and two children are killed. The shooting occurs right after the famous 1945 Victory Parade in Red Square.
There is a mystery but it is never solved – we never do find out who substituted a real pistol for the fake dueling pistols. The story is bases on a real event, but embellished for this is a work of fiction.
The children are taken to Lubyanka prison to be interrogated. During the interrogate the children, through flashbacks, show us the privileged life they left. All their parents were high party apparatchiks and are scrambling to use their party contacts to free their children. We get flashbacks of the parents’ life during the Great War and their wartime romances. Also there are intermittent sections of Stalin’s life and how he views the problems at the school. For like everything in the USSR at this time, Stalin’s approval is necessary.
The book moves forward to 1950 and eventually to 1970 and we see the children as adults with children of their own, some still attending School 801.
At time the books gets quite tedious. The most interesting parts of the book are the interrogations in Lubyanka. I doubt I would every listen to his book again, as I gradually lost interest in the end of the book. The book has too many descriptive passages in it which can often go on far too long. The book is beautifully written and the writer’s portrayal of Soviet life is excellent. It just did not capture my attention for the whole book and I felt it could have been much shorter than it was.
The reader is excellent and it is Simon Prebble's reading which enables the story to move along and lifts the reader over the boring bits.
Say something about yourself!
I was surprised to see a novel by Simon Sebag Montefiore and remembered how much I had enjoyed his history of Jerusalem. The plot is as twisted as anything Kafka could have written. What starts as a adolescent tragedy, percolates and mutates into a plot to overthrow the state. This audio was hard to turn off and I finished it in less than two days. This is a great book to listen to - Prebble's narration is superb and after a while the listeners can almost picture themselves in the Lubyanka.
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