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One Night in Winter Hardcover – 5 Sep 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Century (5 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780891083
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780891088
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Sebag Montefiore's bestselling and prize-winning books are now published in over 45 languages. His next major history book will be 'The Romanovs: 1613-1918,' a full history of the nineteen tsars of the Romanov dynasty over three hundred years, to be published in 2016.
He has won literary prizes for both fiction and non-fiction. His latest novel, 'One Night in Winter' won the Best Political Novel of the Year Prize and was longlisted for the Orwell Prize. His thriller-love-stories set in Russia -'One Night in Winter' and 'Sashenka' - are both out in paperback.
Amongst his history books: 'Catherine the Great & Potemkin' was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper, and Marsh Biography Prizes. 'Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar' won the History Book of the Year Prize at the British Book Awards. 'Young Stalin' won the Costa Biography Award (UK), the LA Times Book Prize for Biography (US), Le Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique (France) and the Kreisky Prize for Political Literature (Austria). 'Jerusalem: The Biography' won Jewish Book of the Year Prize (USA) and was Sunday Times number one non-fiction bestseller (UK).
Montefiore read history at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University where he was awarded his Doctorate of Philosophy. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham, Dr Montefiore is the presenter of 3 BBC TV series Jerusalem (2011); Rome (2012) and Istanbul/Constantinople - 'Byzantium: a tale of 3 cities'...

To follow the author on twitter: @simonmontefiore. For more information:

Product Description


"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." (The Sunday Times)

"A nail-biting drama ... 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." (Mail on Sunday)

"A master storyteller when writing as a historian, Sebag Montefiore’s fiction is just as compelling in this thriller set in Stalin’s Moscow." (GQ)

"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." (Evening Standard)

"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." (Books and What Not Blog)

"Snuggle up in front of the fire with a glass of red and this captivating story ... a dark enigmatic thriller ... the way he weaves fiction and history is a true gift." (Marie Claire)

"Seriously good fun... the Soviet march on Berlin, nightmarish drinking games at Stalin's countryhouse, the magnificence of the Bolshoi, interrogations, snow, sex and exile... lust adultery and romance. Eminently readable and strangely affecting." (Daily Telegraph)

"Not just a thumpingly good read, but also essentially a story of human fragility and passions, albeit taking place under the intimidating shadow of a massive Stalinist portico." (The National)

"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." (The Times)

"The novel is hugely romantic. His ease with the setting and historical characters is masterly. The book maintains a tense pace. Uniquely terrifying. Heartrending." (The Scotsman)

"This tightly written page-turner crackles with authenticity ... if you are wiping away a tear by the end it wont be the thanks to the chill of Soviet winter. Love and death swirl at the heart of One Night in Winter. A terrific storyteller." (Daily Express)

"Hopelessly romantic and hopelessly moving. A mix of lovestory thriller and historical fiction. Engrossing." (Observer)

"A novel full of passion, conspiracy, hope, despair, suffering and redemption... transcends the boundaries of genre, being at once thriller and political drama, horror and romance. His ability to paint the tyrannical Stalin in such a way as to make the reader quake with fear is matched by his talent for creating truly heartbreaking characters: the children who innocently find themselves...behind the dank walls of the dreaded Lubyanka prison; their parents, torn between the need to be seen as loyal Bolsheviks and the love they have for their families ... One Night in Winter is a gripping read and must surely be one of the best novels of 2013." (Steve Emmett, NY JOURNAL OF BOOKS)

"Delicately plotted and buried within a layered, elliptical narrative, One Night in Winter is also a fidgety page-turner which adroitly weaves a huge cast of characters into an arcane world." (Time Out)

"Engrossing novel… based on similar real events and certainly his ease with the setting and historical characters is masterly…the invented characters are well-drawn too." (Scotland on Sunday)

"Sebag's new novel draws in the reader and renders time meaningless. Brilliantly depicted." (Jewish Chronicle)

"One Night in Winter entertains and disturbs and seethes with moral complexities: how far would we go to preserve a secret or protect a loved one? All aspects of this “intensified life” are captured in this intricate, at times sobering, but always absorbing novel." (The Australian)

"A novel of passion, fear, bravery, suffering and survival ... novel mostly about love ... predictably terrifying — but the novel’s romantic soul tempers the terror and makes for a gripping read ... pitch-perfect." (The Spectator)

"Engrossing" (The Scotsman)

"This gripping novel is a chilling reminder of the darkest days of Communist Russian, and the power one man can wield over a nation’s lives." (Daily Mail)

Book Description

By the author of the world-wide bestsellers, Jerusalem, and Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, and based on a true story, a heart-breaking, addictively readable love story set in Stalin's Russia.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lamorna G. on 3 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This could have been half the length, what was the editor thinking of? Slackly written, - would Russians really have compared falling spring petals to spaceships in 1945? Too many characters, new ones introduced willy nilly, old ones not properly developed so that this reader struggled to keep interested in the interruped narrative.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Lupo on 8 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover
By Simon Sebag Montefiore the eminent Stalin's biographer (Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar and Young Stalin), an historical novel set in 1945 Russia. It's a novel about love, family ties, adultery, youth, friendship, fear, hope, deception, psychological violence, secrecy, literature, privilege, Bolshevik faith and its implacable rules.
The author's passionate and profound knowledge of Russian history and his vivid and sophisticated imagination along with his natural talent as a writer generated an unforgettable novel.

The Soviet Union is celebrating the victory on the Nazis. An elite school. A group of teenagers, scions of Bolshevik grandees, forms the Fatal Romantic Club based on Pushkin poetry. A duel is enacted and two of them are mysteriously killed. Their friends are arrested on suspicion of being plotting against the government. On a world where also the members of the establishment live a precarious existence under constant pressure, Stalinist regime puts its unforgiving hand.

The children are forced to testify against their parents, and friends are put one against another. Every word can be used against them now and in the future. Inside and outside the prison a tangible fear, anxiety, and moments of intense longing and love permeate the lives of the characters. Interrogations, deception, suspicion, blackmail, punishment, made up conspiracies, fake truths, unveiled secrets, and hope. They all know what they might face and they all try to survive according to their own nature. Love, remorse, betrayal.

The plot is organized by narrative threads that merge at crucial times designing unexpected twist and turn. The reader is taken through breathless suspensions to the climax and then to the resolution or, instead, to a sudden change of scene.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By P. J. Dunn on 30 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I almost never read historical fiction. I much prefer my history books to be non-fictional, and I do worry that my poor befuddled mind might end up conflating fact and fiction. However Simon Sebag Montefiore is one of my favourite historians and I found myself being sucked in to reading this, his most recent historical novel.

What particularly intrigued me was a recent newspaper piece by Montefiore which, though clearly a PR piece for this book, set out the original real historical background to the story. It detailed how two children of elite Soviet figures had ended up shooting each other and sparking a spiral of typically Stalinist paranoid investigation and quasi purge - but this time the terror fell first on a set of school children.

Without giving away too much of the plot of this book, almost every character finds themselves falling into very dark times and no one gets a perfectly happy ending.

Stalin comes across as by far the most convincing and rounded character as you would expect for a writer who has produced two of the best histories of the man. However the completely invented politburo member Hercules Satinov does transform quickly from a stock character into a very sympathetic figure who, by the end, is a much more interesting character than the intended heroine Serafima. Indeed I became much more worried about the fate of Satinov's 6 year old daughter Mariko than I did about Serafima.

In summary not only did it manage to sneak past my doubts about historical fiction, it has made me want to go back and read properly Simon Sebag Montefiore's Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar again to remind myself of the facts of the original story this was based on. Normally I would not do so, but on this case I thoroughly recommend anyone to read both the factual and the fictional accounts of this tale.
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Format: Paperback
This book was so frustrating. It started with an interesting premise - two teenage children of senior Stalin era officials are shot dead - but rather than following this "mystery" (which falls away quite quickly) it develops into a boring trudge of a child being interviewed by the police and worrying what answers to give, another child being interviewed and worrying about what answers to give, another child being interviewed .......snooze snooze snooze.

There was no development of characters or backgrounds. I would have loved to learn more about Andrei's back story - how did he and his mother get back from exile, and how she coped whilst he was being interviewed. The baby professor was cute but didn't ring true at all. The student giving the teacher the incriminating diary seemed forced. The love stories in the second half felt as though they were shoved in to the story.

In the epilogue the author gives some of the real life stories that formed the basis of this book - and that's where I think he fell down - trying to cram too much onto a limited set of characters.

I was looking forward to reading this book. Alas, I won't be reading anything else by this author.
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