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Snowdrops Paperback – 1 Sep 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848874537
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848874534
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (379 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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

'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'
--Observer

'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

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
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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149 of 161 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Garrett on 9 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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102 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Frank The G on 15 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover
"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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Davison TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Snowdrops was the final novel on the Booker shortlist that I had left to read, although I have two of the longlist contenders yet to go. The story is told as a flashback Nick Platt is telling his girlfriend, possibly fiancee about the time he spent abroad working in Russia. The narrative reveals that this is something he has refused to open up about hitherto in their relationship, something bad happened to Nick Platt, but what?

Snowdrops is a portrait of modern post Cold War Russia, and it paints a Moscow rife with crime, of both the organized and small time variety. The new face of corrupt Russia we have begun to see in the West, where anything you want can be got at a price.

It is a relatively short novel, Nick collides with two sisters Masha and Katya after someone attempts to mug them on the underground. They are two vulnerable girls from a poor background trying to make it in the city, and Nick enters their world despite warnings from colleagues that it won't end well. There are MANY reviews on Amazon, saying that this book is not a thriller and shouldn't be on the Booker shortlist. For my part I didn't know it was meant to be a thriller so that's a none issue because I took it for what it was; somebody relating a life experience they had once had, competently done, interesting, enjoyable and attention holding.

I have no issue with its place on the shortlist, it takes as its time and place a modern feeling setting which hasn't been mined by many writers yet, unlike say, the Second World War about which many novels are written and so there is a freshness to it. If it were meant to be a thriller however, it should have told some events from Katya and Masha's perspective to achieve this.
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