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81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Snowstorm in a Paperweight
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...
Published on 12 Nov. 2011 by Antenna

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed views
I picked this up without reading the hype - sorry publicity! - and it is only now that I realise that this was nominated for the Man Booker Prize last year.
It is an interesting debut novel which features Nick Platt a Lawyer from Luton who ends up in Moscow and narrates his experiences there.
Snowdrops is the term used for dead bodies which emerge when the...
Published on 14 April 2012 by Jonathan Clark


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Has anyone else noticed?, 3 Jan. 2012
By 
Mr. B. Mangan "Wellington Thirds" (Somerset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Snowdrops (Paperback)
Nicholas, writing in the first person, leaves his unsettles personal and professional life in London for somewhere more exotic. There, he meets two attractive and mysterious women. He falls in love with one of them, and, even though he suspects he is being used in some sort of play whose purpose he is unsure of, he goes along with it for 'love'. Or 'lust'. Or just selfishness. He is not sure. There is a third woman involved. A woman who believes in him and trusts him. But he betrays her because of his infatuation for his lover. When he tries to reach out to the woman he has betrayed, he sees his selfishness he has tried to deny. So, enough about The Magus. What's Snowdrops about? (Apologies if I am not the first to notice this). Having said that, I agree it is a bit obvious, but the observations of Russia are depressingly real, and the man's stupidity will ring a chord with all of us who have done the same! It's a good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read....., 17 Nov. 2011
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Snowdrops (Paperback)
Snowdrops is a fantastic debut novel set in present day Moscow. Nick is a lawyer working on behalf of foreign banks lending money to the new Russian businesses. The book is written as a letter to his current fiancée and he explains to her (and to himself) his time in Russia.

He tells how he meets the lovely Masha (and her sister Katya) and from then on is sucked into a series of meeting and deals all concerning the buying and selling of apartments. The reader knows that all will not end well - but the intriguing question is how aware Nick is that he is just being used. Is he the innocent ex-pat in too deep or does he actually realise what is going on? Is the reward of the company of Masha enough to blind him to any moral issues?

This is the Russian we have come to know from books and newspapers - corrupt officials, vulgar consumerism, dubious morality and hard drinking. This is a very bleak picture and made me wonder if there is also a Russia where people care about each other, show kindness without expecting a reward and consider wider society rather than just their own needs and desires.

This is a crime story - but the crimes happen incrementally. How easy it is to acquiesce in theft, extortion and even murder if you choose to look the other way.....

If the fiancée has any sense she will dump Nick as soon as she finishes reading his story!

A gripping read - highly recommended.

(ps Miller gives a very useful hint to visitors to Moscow looking for a taxi: "Don't get in if the driver's got a friend or if he is drunker than you are.")
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Descriptive but ultimately disappointing, 5 April 2012
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An ok thriller with some interesting characters but I was left a little flat at the end. Never having been to Moscow,(and not sure after this if I want to!) I don't doubt that the descriptions were accurate but sometimes I wished the author had spent a little more time fleshing out the characters and a little less time on the location detail. The ending is never in doubt, but I didn't care enough about the narrator to be shocked by his ultimate corruption and betrayal. An easy read, but ultimately disappointing.
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112 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A.D.Miller--Snowdrops, 30 Dec. 2010
By 
Simon Clarke (Hackney, London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Snowdrops (Hardcover)
A.D.Miller's first novel,and set in Moscow,is a very assured
and thoroughly enjoyable debut.
The novel is written as an address by Nicholas-to his future
wife,detailing the events of his last winter in Russia.
Nicholas is a lawyer in his 30's working on large corporate
deals in Moscow.His rather drifting life changes with a chance
meeting with an attractive young Russian female,Masha.During
their time together Nicholas becomes enmeshed in the endemic
deeply embedded corruption,from which it seems impossible to
escape.
Very entertainingly written ,with wry and often understated humour,
the book not only gives an interesting take on Moscow,but also
skillfully shows how the fundamentally decent Nicholas almost
inevitably becomes part of the prevailing amorality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book - wonderful portrayal of capitalist Moscow, 21 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Snowdrops (Paperback)
First point - thriller it's not. The pace is slow. The action is limited. There's some sex and just hints of violence. There is no solution of the crime. So why is it a good book?

Well, the story is languid and enticing. It sucks you in, tempting you to stay - much like the Russian girls Miller writes about. Moscow after the 1990s is still corrupt, seedy and dangerous. Not for nothing do international investors call it the `Wild East'. Fortunes can be made, fortunes can be lost. At the bottom of the heap are the poor Russian people - shafted by the Communists, and now shafted again by the get rich quick Capitalists.

If you want a great Moscow traditional crime thriller series, read Martin Cruz Smith. If you also enjoy novels that weave a subtler picture of a great city from the non-tourist brochure view, so realistic you can see and smell the atmosphere, read this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This time of year, 25 April 2013
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Snowdrops (Paperback)
I'm a bit late in reviewing this book which I'd been meaning to read for ages but never bought a copy. Cheapskate that I am, someone swapped with me so at last Snowdrops is crossed off my 'to read' list.

Looking at other reviews, I think some people expect too much. This is a social drama with a psychological undertow, the story unfolding as Nicholas Pratt's relationship with both his clients and his girlfriend take shape.

There is always a sense of dread, the reader knowing pretty much what is going to happen. I've travelled these parts and, for me, it was easy to understand where the author was coming from. He has his characters neatly portrayed. Once the USSR was split back into its composite states and certain people, usually with, at the very least, shady histories ruthlessly pushed their way into gargantuan agreements to cream off most of the commodity wealth whilst Yeltsin drank himself to death, there could only be the natural follow-on by people wishing to mimic these heavyweights.

At the same time, Westerners were always likely to be easy meat. Russia is not alone in seducing foreigners into their illegal activities. Currently Romania and Bulgaria run a similar shop but without the vast wealth that Russia has provided yet they have a certain track record in fleecing people with ease.

Snowdrops develops this so well. The author captures the underlying mystery, the greed of both sides of the coin, the belief that a newcomer to Russia could fit right into the middle of their society. He details, too, the Moscow some of us know but I loved his two word description of one of his colleagues as having a face like a 'perplexed potato'! Football anyone?

Perhaps the most interesting character in the book is Nick's friend, Steve, the journalist who seems to have events and people pretty much nailed down. Maybe the author's previous life resonates inside this character but whatever, Steve sets the eventual outcome with some regret for his friend.

All-in-all, this is a good read and deserving of the praise it has received. I'm not sure if Miller has written any other novels since Snowdrops. He should, his pen is certainly as good, if not mightier, than the backwardness of Russia and its many varied peoples.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Moscow story of mis-placed love and serious crime, 2 Oct. 2012
By 
Thomas Cunliffe "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Snowdrops (Paperback)
"In Russia there are no politics stories, there are no love stories. There are only crime stories."

Snowdrops is Nick's confessional letter to his fiancée, saying, in effect: "This is what I did. This is what I become. Do you still want to marry me?" Would the answer have been yes or no? We are left to draw our own conclusions.

Nick is an expat lawyer working on behalf of foreign banks that want to lend money to Russian businesses, especially in the oil industry. Hs is 38, unsettled and terrified of ending up in a suburban life like his parents. This makes him open to glamour, mystery, shady clubs and dodgy deals.

He rescues Russian beauty Masha from a mugging and gets involved with her and her younger sister Katya. Is this a honey-trap? The reader thinks yes, but Nick wilfully blinds himself to this question and almost wilfully goes into what is bound to end up with deep trouble. Nick leads a fairly sterile life in Moscow, the life of ex-pat apartments and boring parties. He is prepared to ignore the warning signals so obvious to the book's readers in order to take part in the more edgy life of Tatyana and Katya.

Masha and Katya introduce Nick to Tatiana Vladimirovna, an old woman, allegedly the girls' aunt, living in a nice apartment that was her late husband's reward for services to the motherland. She spent her childhood making skis out of bark and laying down bottles of pickles for winter. But her desire to return to the life of her rural childhood will be her undoing.

:ater in the book Nick confesses to his innate weakness, "I was drifting towards 40. I'd drifted to Moscow and to Masha and into this. It was only another drift, to pass over this lie and live with it. It wasn't even such a difficult one, to tell you the truth - the truth about me I mean, and how far could I go - was there all along, very close, waiting for me to find it"

The criminal characters in Snowdrops are a bit wooden - The Cossack for example - and the reader could easily feel that they have seen them in many books and films before. On the whole I think the books relies too heavily on Russian stereotypes. None of the Russians (apart from Tatiana) have any redeeming features - they are all criminals. We know that in real life there ARE ethical Russians, people who protest about Putin and his bogus elections, people who run civil rights organisations, fine writers and artists etc, but we see none of those - only the Maffia-like gangs, the vastly rich oligarchs and their henchmen. We know Russia is more than this but Miller focuses too much on the negative view of Russia and its criminal classes.

Nick is drawn into all this and is immediately out of his depth. His lack of a moral compass makes him easy prey for Misha and Katya and their vicious scheme.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Springboard for Reading Group Discussion, 14 Sept. 2012
By 
Lovely Treez (Belfast, N Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Snowdrops (Paperback)
This was our library Reading Group's latest read and an excellent example of how reading groups encourage folk to venture into previously unexplored reading territories. I hadn't read any blurbs/reviews prior to reading and I must say this probably enhanced my reading experience as I had no preconceived ideas and didn't even know what genre it was. It's more of a slow burning psychological drama rather than a swift moving thriller and although it does occasionally veer into a cliched view of contemporary, corrupt Russia I found it very entertaining and a quick and easy read.

The narrator is a most unlikeable character, Nick, a British high-flying lawyer working in Moscow. His inability to accept any kind of moral responsibility for his actions reminded me of Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons - the quote from the movie ringing in my ears "It's beyond my control". Nick would like to think we readers will pity him as he is a victim of circumstances but neither I nor any of my fellow readers in our book group were taken in by him!

The author spent time in Moscow working as a journalist but is at pains to point out that this novel isn't intended to be an accurate depiction of Russian society ....hmmm...truth can be stranger than fiction.... We all agreed it was a very readable, entertaining novel and it provoked a great deal of chat about international dating agencies as well as the stereotyped representations of different nationalities in literature - a good springboard for discussion!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Promising Debut Novel, 26 Jan. 2012
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Snowdrops (Paperback)
A.D.Miller's 2011 Booker-nominated debut novel Snow Drops provides a very interesting (and predictably disturbing) take on modern day corruption in Moscow, the book's setting. Miller paints a very bleak picture of the level of decadence and corruption in the city, and, given that he worked as the Economist's Moscow correspondent for a number of years, one assumes that this represents his own view of life in the city, at least for certain sections of the population (although Miller has said that he considers the 'moral decline' of Snow Drops' central protagonist, British expat Nick Platt, to be as much to blame for his own downfall as Moscow itself).

The main strength of Snow Drops lies in Miller's deceptively simple prose style, which enables him to create a very believable story, which slow burns to an OK increasingly obvious denouement. The book's storyline follows 30-something expat lawyer Nick Platt (who is apparently narrating the story to someone - the reader?), and his chance encounter with two young Russian women, Masha and younger sister/cousin(?) Katya, his subsequent relationship with Masha, and an increasingly embroiled plot involving the 'sale' of an appartment being used by Masha/Katya's 'aunt', Tatiana. Miller also draws us into a parallel plot concerning lawyer Nick's attempt to provide legal assurance on the development of an oil terminal in a remote Russian location against the backdrop of elusive surveyors and Russian mafia business backers (always a rather dodgy scenario,, one would think). Of course, nothing in the story is quite what it first appears.

Miller creates the atmosphere of a bleak, freezing and totally dedadent Moscow brilliantly. He is also able to communicate Nick's self-deception and increasing puzzlement entirely convincingly, at times reminding me of the style of the inestimable Paul Auster, or even Kafka. My only criticism would be that Miller's simplistic writing style, whilst serving the central narrative admirably, becomes almost too easy by the novel's conclusion, which might have benefitted by the odd, slightly less obvious plot twist.

This aside, however, a thoroughly enjoyable and convincing book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "... Moscow, where you're always seeing things [...] before you realize it might be better not to.", 29 Sept. 2011
By 
jfp2006 (PARIS/France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Snowdrops (Paperback)
I found Snowdrops compelling and depressing in more or less equal measure. Which perhaps suggests something ever so slightly masochistic in my attitude to it.

The most striking (and dispiriting) thing about it is that none of the characters, including the narrator, is in any way likeable or trustworthy, with the exception of the old lady Tatiana Vladimorovna - and it is made very clear that she is someone left over from a bygone era, cast adrift in a world now governed by corruption and deceit. (As someone points out somewhere, there's nothing going in Moscow these days for anyone over forty.)

The numerous taxi-drivers encountered are all blind drunk, or else clearly psychotic (if not both). All the women are either hookers or else seemingly aspire to that status. The book begins with the discovery of a corpse in the prologue and then a mugging in the metro in the first chapter proper. And from then on in it is an infernal spiral of manipulation on various levels, leading inevitably downwards to the point near the end where the narrator realizes his life is one big mess, and adopts the quintessentially Russian remedy of getting smashed. (And at the same time implying that in Moscow there are no serious alternative remedies.)

I spoke briefly about the novel to a colleague with considerable experience of life in Moscow both during and since the Soviet period. My conclusions from that conversation are that Snowdrops perhaps veers rather too much towards caricature, even creating the impression that the author himself (rather than the simultaneously gullible and opportunistic narrator) came away from his time there with bad vibes, and that the novel is his way of attempting to exorcise a number of demons.

It's only the second novel I've read on this year's Booker shortlist. It's leagues ahead of the dire Pigeon English (but then most novels are), but nothing like as accomplished or as profound (or, in the end, as well researched) as such recent winners as The Blind Assassin, The Line of Beauty or Wolf Hall. I would have thought it was too much in a genre of its own to be a serious contender for the prize - but if it's on the shortlist, who can tell? (Twenty years ago I rather feel it wouldn't have been.)
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Snowdrops
Snowdrops by A. D. Miller (Paperback - 1 Sept. 2011)
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