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Snowdrops [Paperback]

A. D. Miller
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (355 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

1 Sep 2011
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011, Snowdrops is THE debut of 2011: A stunning novel of moral ambiguity, uncertainty and corruption. Snowdrops. That's what the Russians call them - the bodies that float up into the light in the thaw. Drunks, most of them, and homeless people who just give up and lie down into the whiteness, and murder victims hidden in the drifts by their killers. Nick has a confession. When he worked as a high-flying British lawyer in Moscow, he was seduced by Masha, an enigmatic woman who led him through her city: the electric nightclubs and intimate dachas, the human kindnesses and state-wide corruption. Yet as Nick fell for Masha, he found that he fell away from himself; he knew that she was dangerous, but life in Russia was addictive, and it was too easy to bury secrets - and corpses - in the winter snows...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848874537
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848874534
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (355 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Snowdrops assaults all your senses with its power and poetry, and leaves you stunned and addicted.'

'A superlative portrait... Snowdrops displays a worldly confidence reminiscent of Robert Harris at his best'
--Financial Times

'Reads like Graham Greene on steroids... Miller's complex, gripping debut novel is undoubtedly the real thing'
--Daily Mail

'Miller brilliantly showcases Moscow as his novel's strutting, charismatic star... disturbing and dazzling'
--Sunday Telegraph

'Tight, compelling... A totally gripping first novel'
--The Times

'A tremendously assured, cool, complex, slow-burn of a novel and a bleak and superbly atmospheric portrait of modern Russia'
--William Boyd

'Superbly atmospheric... Elegantly written, and spot on its detail'

'A chilling first novel about the slide from relative innocence into amorality. I love the honesty of the writing, and the way the furious cold of a bitter Moscow winter gradually emerges as a character in its own right'
--Julie Myerson

'Intoxicating... It will whirl you off your feet and set your moral compass spinning... A.D. Miller's sophisticated and many-layered debut novel skewers the relationship between victim and abuser, self-delusion and corruption, love and moral freefall' --Spectator

About the Author

Born in London in 1974, A.D. Miller studied literature at Cambridge and Princeton. He worked as a television producer before joining the The Economist. From 2004 to 2007 he was the magazine's Moscow correspondent, travelling widely across Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of the acclaimed family history The Earl of Petticoat Lane (Heinemann, 2006). Snowdrops is his first novel. He lives in London with his wife and children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Snowstorm in a Paperweight 12 Nov 2011
By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
I can understand why "Snowdrops" reached the Booker Shortlist, but also why some people think is should not have done so.

On the plus side, Miller puts his firsthand knowledge of Russia to good use by recreating the tasteless materialism and perpetual undercurrent of violence and sleaze in the raw capitalism following the collapse of Communism. He describes well how individuals are inexorably contaminated by exposure to corruption, even if they think themselves to be morally superior, or immune.

In what turns out to be a psychological drama rather than a crime thiller, the narrator Nicholas, a thirty something commercial lawyer posted from London to Moscow, builds up tension as he is gets ever more entangled with the beautiful Masha and her younger "sister" Katya. Even though he suspects they are not what they seem, he suppresses any doubts and passively goes along with them in providing legal support for what is on the surface a simple property exchange without questioning their actions.

I like the introduction to a new vocabulary: "minigarch" for a rich Russian who isn't quite in the oligarch league, "krysha" for the shady character who provides protection and "fixes" things, or "elitny" to describe a smart restaurant or club. Miller is also good on all the different kinds of snow - from the light, damp October snow called "mokri sneg", through the deep heavy snow falling overnight "like a practical joke", the mounds of snow which make walking an obstacle, and finally the end-of-May snow... by which God lets the Russians know he hasn't finished with them yet". He brings home how the weather dominates Russians' lives through the course of the almost unbearably long and cold winters and the all too short hot summers.
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145 of 156 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gorky Park for a post-Wall generation 9 Feb 2011
I first heard about this novel on The Review Show on BBC2 and was intrigued enough by the discussion to break my resolution about not buying any more books until (a) they were available for Sony eReader; and (b) I was ready to read them.But right from the exquisite jacket design, I was so gripped with this book that I decided a physical copy was in order. I picked up Sunday evening, and would have happily read it in one sitting if only life hadn't been so tortuously in the way. As first time novels go, this is an enormous achievement. The prose is dazzling and Moscow is evoked in a way that makes this the Gorky Park for the post-Wall generation.

The plot is entirely linear, and is essentially the inevitable forward motion of one man's failure to swerve any of the moral hazards he encounters while working as an expat lawyer in Russia. The narrator is very clear about what a flawed and cowardly creature he is, and yet it is a joy to read on because of the insights he offers into Russian culture and society.

As someone who has lived and worked as an expat in two European countries, I felt this book really nailed that heady sense of possibility that comes with the early stages of living abroad; the feeling that you can be who you want to be, run risks you never would normally take because you've stepped out of time for a bit.To me, this was neatly underlined by the notion that the text was effectively a long, confessional letter from the narrator to his fiancée. During discussion on The Review Show there were those who felt this narrative conceit didn't quite work, but personally I found it added real resonance to the novel.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book 26 Oct 2011
I'm glad A Sense of an Ending won this year's Booker, but I can see why this was a contender. It contains a lot about what it's like for an expat to live in Moscow, and it tells a good story, but most of all it's a psychological story -- the slow unveiling of just what an inadequate, unlovable man the protagonist is. There were times when the pain of what was so obviously going to happen made me put the book down for a moment to catch my breath. The form of the book is an account by him to his fiancee explaining what happened to him in Russia, and I have to say I hope she gave him back the ring when she read it. Days after I finished reading it the story and the characters are still with me; this may be the reader's equivalent of the portrait's eyes following you round the room, but for me it's one of the tests of a really good read.
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98 of 107 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Distinctly average - so why all the praise? 15 Feb 2011
"Snowdrops" has come heralded by just about everybody, including many people on the Amazon sit. Although it's a good read, well-written and very informative about modern Moscow and all its moral uncertainties, I was left with the feeling that I'd read a very empty novel, in which nothing really seems to have happened. The narrator has committed a great ill and been sucked into a moral vaccuum, almost willingly, and the book forms his confession to the girl that he is now going to marry, having returned to England and left Russia (and part of himself) behind. The problem was that, even though he says he's being bewitched by money and power and sex and the temptation to just opt out of morality, it never really FELT like that. It was all just a little bit flat.

A book I could definitely take or leave - I wonder what all the fuss is about!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read but a little unsettling about Mosco society
Published 4 days ago by Sharron
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
having lived in the former Soviet union post glasnost.. this book confirmed they way life was on a daily basis I doubt much has changed.
Published 10 days ago by KLE
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Really enjoyed reading this book, a great read
Published 27 days ago by K. Wall
4.0 out of 5 stars Predictable
Typical of books written about Russia - but enjoyable.
Published 1 month ago by Michele
1.0 out of 5 stars nyet, ni nada!
Oh dear. What a waste of my time reading this. I went in completely blind reading this book and only had the cover to inspire me to read it, which it did. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Cake
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmosphere, moral ambiguity and place
The eponymous snowdrop refers to a body buried under the winter snow which only comes to light in the thaw. Read more
Published 2 months ago by leekmuncher
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting to read of what a snowdrop really is
A 30 year old English man is corrupted and seduced by the new Russia and the opportunities it will bring him. Read more
Published 2 months ago by thebooktrailer
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant. A very realistic view of modern Russia
Absolutely brilliant. A very realistic view of modern Russia. Also a great story
Published 2 months ago by debbie. wild
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Loved it
Published 3 months ago by RK
3.0 out of 5 stars For those with an interest in Russia
Fair account of new capitalist Russia's workings disguised as a confessional love story. If you are interested in Russia, this is an OK read. If not, stay away.
Published 3 months ago by Christian Valentiner
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