Join AD Miller to talk about SNOWDROPS, our January Book of the Month, on Tuesday Jan 31, 9-10pm

(174 Posts)

Shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, January's Book of the Month is a superbly chilling novel that's perfect for frozen winter days.

SNOWDROPS is set in the tawdry, corrupt underbelly of Moscow, where murder victims lie hidden in the snow until the spring thaw brings them to the surface. Nick, a high flying British lawyer, has begun a new life in the city, negotiating with oil barons, exploring the maze of streets crammed with expense-account brothels, power plants, glitzy restaurants and gridlocked traffic. His guide is the enigmatic Masha, who inexorably reels him into a morally ambiguous and self-deluded love affair.

Cool, complex and menacing, this is, as the Spectator put it 'a heady noseful of Moscow, an intoxicating perfume that will whirl you off your feet and set your moral compass spinning'.

You can find out more at our book of the month page.

Atlantic are giving 50 free copies to Mumsnetters - to claim yours, send your name and address to sarahpocklington@atlantic-books.co.uk, putting Mumsnet/Snowdrops in the Subject Bar.

And if you're not lucky enough to bag one of those, don't forget you can get your paperback or version here

We're delighted that A.D Miller will be joining us for the webchat on Tuesday 31 January, 9-10pm. Look forward to seeing you there.

ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 01-Dec-11 16:28:20

If you'd like to find out more about A.D. Miller and Snowdrops, visit our Book of the Month page.

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 16:34:03

Shade?

really?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 01-Dec-11 16:41:39

Yep, really <bristlesprotectively>
Pronounced Shar-day.
Lovely newest member of team. smile

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 16:43:25

Oh <disappointed> Thought it was like a cool Harry Potteresque nom de plume.

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 16:44:20

Sorry Shade

<resists strong pun urges until better acquainted>

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 16:45:46

I'm liking the maze of streets crammed with power plants. Moscow, eh? Kerrrrazy.

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 16:46:38

I'm sorry about this, I'm sure another poster will be along soon, meanwhile there's just lil ol me.

I have read it btw. Would you like a John Crace digested digested?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 01-Dec-11 16:57:20

Yeah, go on, why not!

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:00:03

Thicko Nick wanders through every cliche of nouveau Russia imaginable while having hot sauna sex with stereotyped eastern euro girl who nicks a flat off heroic Babushka.

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:01:03

You're not going to like that, are you?

But it's true. Pravda, innit?

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:04:48

What was the Spectator critic thinking?

They get the expensive drugs over there, lucky wotsits.

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:05:25

I'm going for the record of most continuous posts on a thread.

Spassiba.

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:06:14

How about I suggest some actual GOOD books for discussion? I suppose it depends on the publishers and the author's willingness to turn up of course.

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:11:03

Or digested digested digested <thoroughly enjoying self now>

Snow. Sauna sex. Lap dancing. Alcohol. Fraud. Ruefulness.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 01-Dec-11 17:11:43

All suggestions for next year welcome.

We've had some interesting books and great author chats this year - Christos Tsiolkas, Emma Donaghue, Aimee Bender, Maggie O'Farrell...

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:14:35

Damn, I missed Cristos.

I didn't mean to suggest you didn't have good ones ever ever. I'm sorry if it sounded rude. It's just that Snow one made me cross.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 01-Dec-11 17:16:37

You didn't sound rude at all. Less to talk about if everyone loves every book. Please come and post when AD Millar's on - sure he's up for critical engagement!

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:18:15

Wiil do.

With PARD, of course.

MistyB Thu 01-Dec-11 17:34:58

Hully. I've read it too and while I did find it a page turner but mostly because I wanted to finish it quickly and kept hoping there was something great to come that I was currently missing. Unfortunately, I got to the end without finding it. The main character seemed more hollow than shallow and I think his chances of the wedding going ahead are slim!

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:42:58

Thicko Nick couldn't help himself. It was his trouser snake wot dunnit.

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:46:46

How about:

Snow. Licentiousness. Rue.

Or:

Snow. Sin. Rue.

Hullygully Thu 01-Dec-11 17:53:21

We need one word that sums up alcohol/licentiousness/sex/depravity/wilfull-disregard-for-what-is-blatantly-obvious-and-clearly-wrong/fraud.

Bet the Russians have one. Or the Germans. They have a word for everything.

Hullygully Fri 02-Dec-11 15:03:36

Still no one here!

<does a little dance but not a lap one>

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 05-Dec-11 17:04:06

There's still copies left if you fancy grabbing yourself a free copy of Snowdrops (don't be put off by Hully grin) and plenty of time left to read it between now and the book club discussion and webchat with AD Miller on 31st January. To claim yours, send your name and address to sarahpocklington@atlantic-books.co.uk, putting Mumsnet/Snowdrops in the Subject Bar. We'll let you know when they've all gone.

Hullygully Tue 06-Dec-11 11:26:55

Tempted to get some and give them as Christmas presents to people I don't like much.

heh heh

Hullygully Tue 06-Dec-11 18:45:09

Okay, out of the kindness of my heart and the meanness of my soul I'll have the lot as no one else wants them. I'll cover em in glitter and Christmas them up a bit. Perhaps a snowman instead of a corpse?

missorinoco Tue 06-Dec-11 20:48:48

I've emailed. I'm interested now after all you've said, Hully!

Hullygully Wed 07-Dec-11 08:31:12

Ta Dah!

yUMMYmUMMYb Thu 08-Dec-11 15:25:34

i have emailed but get an out of office until 3rd January reply - poor woman will likely come back to zillions of emails...

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 08-Dec-11 16:47:13

Thanks for alerting us to this yummy. I'll contact Atlantic right away to check this out.

DazR Thu 08-Dec-11 21:15:15

Yep - I also got the 'out of office' reply so I'm afraid the poor lady is going to find a very full inbox on her return!

missorinoco Fri 09-Dec-11 13:39:31

I didn't get one, and there's nothing in my junk mail. Goodness knows to whom I sent the email then!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 12-Dec-11 10:27:31

Don't worry about the out of office reply, I've been assured by Atlantic that anyone who mails in will still receive the books. There's still a good few copies left so if you haven't already, do email sarahpocklington@atlantic-books.co.uk, putting Mumsnet/Snowdrops in the Subject Bar and ignore the outofoffice response.

Flamesparrow Mon 12-Dec-11 11:00:34

For once I have actually read this book.

Weirdly all the way through it put me in mind of The Comfort of Strangers (Ian McEwan) but it has been years since I read it and can't for the life of me work out why!!!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 14-Dec-11 10:59:09

The books have now all gone. Enjoy reading over Christmas and don't forget to join us on 31st Jan for the discussion with author AD Miller.

elkiedee Wed 14-Dec-11 15:55:24

If I read it over Christmas I would have forgotten it by 31 Jan - I have a copy which I downloaded when it was a Kindle bargain a few months ago.

gailforce1 Wed 14-Dec-11 18:24:39

Had an e mail from Sarah from Atlantic to say book is in the post. But like elkiedee if I read it before the middle of January I will have forgotten it by the 31st!!

FryLaw Thu 15-Dec-11 09:27:20

Is there anyone here who has not been able to finish it...?

Missed your dance hully. Damn!

FryLaw Thu 15-Dec-11 09:28:28

..complete the motion if you stumble..

FryLaw Thu 15-Dec-11 20:45:21

this life is more than just a read thru

icannotfly Fri 16-Dec-11 20:34:42

Received my free copy today, thank you!

yUMMYmUMMYb Sun 18-Dec-11 08:10:23

Got my copy too, thank you. plenty of time to read before discussion.

gailforce1 Sun 18-Dec-11 19:13:14

Thank you, my copy has arrived.

Michiem Wed 21-Dec-11 14:27:35

Got mine and started to make a dent, very easy to read and getting into it grin thanks

Michiem Mon 26-Dec-11 23:16:44

Very good book, I've just finished it and really did enjoy the portrait of Russia. But I did find myself getting extremely angry and frustrated with Nick's naivety. It just was so obvious what they were doing but I guess that's why the book is written as a flashback, hindsight is a bitch and so was Masha.

Pippa5l Thu 29-Dec-11 17:21:40

Ive read it. Its awful, I was waiting for the grande finale but nothing happened !!! I finished it but wouldnt recommend it unfortunately. Ive just read Help (cant remember the author) and loved it. Any more suggestions ?

WannabeMegMarch Sun 01-Jan-12 23:09:16

May I join in- new to MN. Got this as a Christmas present based on the reviews .....but hully you have quite put me off.
I will go speed read and report back.....

WannabeMegMarch Tue 03-Jan-12 12:43:30

Right- well first off I suppose it was easy to speed read, so perfect for Christmas reading.
I felt he did an excellent job of conveying decay and the sordidness of Moscow at the time. In fact, I felt rather grubby myself while reading which, if it was his aim, was excellently done.
The denouement was well signposted, rather disappointingly I felt, and as such, I became very impatient with Nick. He was not a well drawn character in terms of his background, and really in all ways came across as rather insipid.
Several characters I wanted to get to know better- the neighbour and his missing friends, Tatiana the defraudee.
Overall, given the tenor of the reviews I had read, this was a disappointing read. It was, as others have said, grimy snow, sex, fraud, oops.
However, if I had come to this as a pass the time read, I would be quite pleased that it did exactly that.

southlondonlady Tue 03-Jan-12 12:54:59

Didn't think I would enjoy this but I am so far, particularly the descriptions of Russian life. Am finding Nick rather irritating though as he is so wilfully naive. Although he is bored with his life so maybe is just wanting something - anything - to happen. Agree with the comparison to Comfort of Strangers (so far anyway).

typicalvirgo Wed 04-Jan-12 09:11:13

I managed to get a free copy too. thank you for that.

I agree with all the other posters, this book was nothing special and lived up to the usual stereotypes.

What also annoyed me was the translation of odd words from russian into english and then putting them into brackets.

Poor effort I am afraid...

nellieellie Thu 05-Jan-12 11:59:16

Yes, I read it a while back and both myself and DH were disappointed given the reviews. It was a page turner, but i found the heavy melancholic "I- should have-known-then-something-was-wrong-but-couldn't-stop-myself" atmosphere a bit laboured and over the top. Also kept finding myself thinking"why?" to the constant insistence that he had to "go through with it". I don't have to like a main character to enjoy a book but if he's weak, irritating and his main trait is puppy drooling over women who appear to be out of some soft porn internet website, even when he knows he's being duped and involved in pretty dire stuff (should I not give too much away here?), then it's just too hard. Yep, agree with Hully - the book annoyed me.

yUMMYmUMMYb Fri 06-Jan-12 12:03:29

finished the book, and i did find it really easy reading and enjoyed the style of writing and descriptions of characters. however, i do agree that the ending was somewhat disappointing.
my question - is there a follow up book planned, being penned? it seemed to me that i'd like to find out more about Nick's current situation. also, how much personal experience is in the book?

cakes82 Fri 06-Jan-12 19:52:03

Have only got to chapter 2 so far. Had a Kindle as a belated Christmas Present. Am waiting to find out just who he is writing all these events down for, I'd guess an English person,,,

funnyperson Sat 07-Jan-12 21:46:03

How did I miss the free copy thingy?

I have read this. I liked the Moscow setting- it seems a long time ( ie since the seventies? since the Gulag and Solzhenytsin) since a book came out of Russia even though this isn't strictly speaking by a Russian. And its the first one since glasnost and all that. Or have I just been missing stuff?
Anyway I liked all the unfamiliar names of stations and the very silly sauna scene which fitted in totally with the blingy nineties.
I thought the whole scheming/pretending not to be scheming/ for property was horrible, but the reason it was particularly horrible is it could actually have happened in any country in this century. Which is why this is such a good book. It makes a sinister point which relates to our generation and our time - the old are gold but the young are entitled to it and if not, will get it anyway.

going to request my book - would like to join a book club this year...speak soon!

Hello, Happy New Year all.

Lots of interesting points already, please don't forget to come along on Jan 31 and put your questions to AD Miller, whatever your feelings.

If you can't make it on the night (or want to get your queries down while the book is still fresh in your mind) then please add your advance questions here and I'll forward on to the author.

Like The Slap, I think it's going to be a lively discussion... Looking forward to it.

yUMMYmUMMYb Mon 09-Jan-12 15:30:44

what's the february book going to be? i've got vouchers that are burning a hole in my pocket...

seriouslytwisted Mon 09-Jan-12 18:23:32

I loved the descriptions of the locations in this book, but the main character, oh dear! Talk about weak, shallow and fatalistic. And does he give his bank account details to Nigerian e-mail phishers too? He perfectly-illustrates the dangers of thinking with your cock instead of your brain.
It's a good winter read, definitely a page-turner, but not one I'd put forward for the Man Booker Prize (not that I have any say in it smile

Greedygirl Mon 09-Jan-12 20:25:06

Just finished this and glad I didn't read this thread first because I really enjoyed it! It was completely different from anything else I have been reading recently and I really enjoyed the different descriptions of Moscow. I rather liked Nick. He was a sad old loser but I don't think he was niave - he knew what was happening and kind of just went along with it anyway. Not nice but very human I think. I think it was good at examining the ways that we protect ourselves and our egos by pretending not to know and I liked the way that the neighbour kept popping up to give him a (not very subtle) reality check. I liked the ending. I liked the translations. I liked it all!

southlondonlady Mon 09-Jan-12 20:39:48

OK I've finished it now and really enjoyed it - def a page turner. I can see now that Nick was not being niave, he knew he was being played but in fact didn't care because he just wanted some glamour in his life. I'd say there are plenty of men like this out there. There's also the interesting point as to how do people's boundaries change when in an unfamiliar environment away from family and friends. Nick's story is an extreme example obviously but lots of people do things on holiday that they would never do at home.

My question: what is the likelihood of the wedding going ahead now?! Aside from Nick's part in tricking the old lady, he's also told his fiance that he misses Masha and that she (the fiance) is part of his now "thin life". I think the chances are not good!

glitch Tue 10-Jan-12 14:33:08

Whoops, should have read the whole thread before e-mailing poor Sarah. I see they went about about a month ago!!
Does anyone have a copy they would like to swap with me for The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet or The Brave? PM me if so pls. Thanks.

azazello Tue 10-Jan-12 16:12:56

I didn't like it and was a bit disappointed as that was the shortlisted one I'd wanted to read. I guessed it was a scam (and pretty much what the scam was) very early so just spent the whole thing thinking he was an inept fool and feeling vaguely embarrassed for him being so dense.

maybenow Tue 10-Jan-12 20:03:17

i liked it. it was bleeding obvious but i think it was supposed to be. i think it was also obvious to the main character what was going on too but he went along with it because he needed some excitement in his life and because there were no real consequences.

clearly people do behave like that, we saw it just before each big stock market collapse, people knowing it's all an illusion but choosing to go with it anyway.

i think that because it's written 'in retrospect' and 'with hindsight' the obviousness of it didn't bother me - it was deliberately fatalistic.

seriouslytwisted Tue 10-Jan-12 22:38:05

<i>My question: what is the likelihood of the wedding going ahead now?! Aside from Nick's part in tricking the old lady, he's also told his fiance that he misses Masha and that she (the fiance) is part of his now "thin life". I think the chances are not good!</i>
Southlondonlady - I think the wedding is definitely off! Would you marry him??His surname ought to be spellt with an 'R' instead of an 'L'

If I cared about this character, I wouldn't have been able to read this book - but because he's not exactly likeable, I could stay to watch the car crash.

aftereight Wed 11-Jan-12 12:08:16

I am half way through the book. I love the portrayal of Moscow, the writing is very evocative, and even the not infrequent cliches don't jarr in the normal way as they're describing such an unusual, and powerful, culture.
The characters are pretty 2 dimensional. Nick, as her is narrating his own history, is short on personal insight, but I guess this just makes him more human? Masha and especially Katya are little more than ciphers (sp?), and unless the plot twists in an unexpected way, I feel that the main story here isn't Nick, but Russia itself. The story may have been less cliched and predictable had it been set in another post-revolutionary state (Czech Republic?)
I am enjoying the writing style though.

aftereight Wed 11-Jan-12 12:09:08

*he

Another one who found this book a complete disappointment - mainly because the central relationship between Nick and Masha was so utterly hollow. Why was she the love of his life? Why? Why? Was it their thrilling conversations? (But they barely speak to each other.) Their shared values and life-goals? (But they never discuss them.) How happy they make each other? (But they both spend the entire novel being miserable.) The fun of making a life together? (But all they do is go to restaurants and have doom-laden sex.)

If you don't believe that Nick is wildly in love with Masha, then very little that he does makes any sense. And I didn't. So, it didn't.

Saying that, I thought its evocation of place was very good. The author reminded me a lot of Philip Larkin actually...at his best when talking about landscapes. smile

ChipsnCheese Thu 12-Jan-12 17:50:47

Aaaw, come on everyone... it wasn't that bad!! Not a top thriller , and very very predictable - but a page turner, a bit of a romp, and some good descriptive writing, as my old teacher would have said.

I think the main problem is that the blurb - and title come to think of it - is misleading. Without the promise of deadly thriller stuff, I don't think people would have been so disappointed. It's fraudy scams, not thrilling thrills.

Dozer Thu 12-Jan-12 22:49:14

Read this on a friend's kindle. Dreadful, sexist, cliche-ridden, maddening shite! Hully has said it much better than I could.

Tried to read it that the narrator was deliberately portrayed as a pathetic, sex-obsessed loser but couldn't shake the thoughts above.

MN towers, poor choice of book-club book!

On the positive side, the stuff on russia was interesting and it was easy to (skim) read.

Dozer Thu 12-Jan-12 22:55:44

It might've been fine if written in the ian fleming era.

coppertop Fri 13-Jan-12 09:56:40

I tried to like this book but just couldn't get into it. For such a relatively short book it had what felt like endless descriptions of strippers and strip clubs, and even the female characters who weren't strippers were being compared to prostitutes because of the way they dressed (with the exception of poor old Tatiana).

Considering Nick only ever seemed to drift along through life, I'm amazed he ever became a lawyer. Surely that would have required some actual effort being put into things?

One bit I did like though was the description of the trip home at Christmas and the way that adults visiting home are thrown back into their childhood roles.

toddlerama Fri 13-Jan-12 18:06:41

Missed out on the freebie. I've now bought the kindle version because you lot slagging it off has made me want to read it and join in. This is not how you are supposed to respond to a book club is it? Buy the shit ones for a laugh?

typicalvirgo Mon 16-Jan-12 10:50:32

Right, in the spirit of a book club discussion my question to A D is this:

being selected for a man booker award must be a fantastic experience for you. How important do you feel that being selected for such lists is and how did you go about this ? do you think being on a, for example, richard & judy book list helps get your work read by a wider audience ?

juneybean Mon 16-Jan-12 14:08:37

Oops can't remember if I've posted on this already or not. I read it last week, it was alright, nothing brilliant (sorry AD Miller) however I did like the concept of writing to the guys fiancée. But Nick did need a bit of a slap for going along with it all even though he did really know that it wasn't quite right.

Malonka Mon 16-Jan-12 17:14:01

Just discovered this book club but luckily just read Snowdrops for my other book club. I enjoyed the descriptions of Moscow and life in Moscow but can't say that I found the book to be a page turner (not helped by the fact that when it was first described to me it sounded more like a gripping thriller rather than a more of a memoir). For the majority of the book I thought it was ok, nicely written but it didn't really grab me, but I have to say the last few lines really made the book for me. For me Nick goes from being a nice but possibly slightly bumbling (not quite the word I'm looking for but baby brain is blocking other possibilities) character who inadvertently got caught up in something dark, to being not very nice at all (his main regrets are nothing to do with the fate of Tatiana and are all about missing Masha and Moscow). It does make you question what he was hoping to achieve by writing to his fiancee.... Initially you think it is to confess his guilt so that they can start married life with a clean slate but at the end you realise that he doesn't really feel any guilt and given his nostalgia for Masha you'd have to hope that his fiancee would question their decision to marry.....

Bellstar Wed 18-Jan-12 15:54:53

I bought this book a ccouple of days ago. Was wary after seeing some of the comments on here<glares at hully> but I have to say I enjoyed it. Thought the description of life in post soviet moscow was excellent.

I dont know if I would describe it as a thriller as I agree-it wasnt that thrilling. I think it was more pyschological-looking at the influence of moscow,its culture and its people on nicks life.

Dozer Thu 19-Jan-12 23:45:36

Shortlisted for the man booker prize?!

shock

cakes82 Fri 20-Jan-12 17:09:22

Just finished reading this book. I pick my books normally by the blurb on the back and if I can read and like the first page. This one fitted that category and I enjoyed it. I found some of the names of places and people difficult and a bit confusing, but i'm not used to anything Russian. I think perhaps it needed a little more explanation about his fiance and why Nick felt the need to write to her- perhaps after an argument for example. I realised about three quarters of the way through that it was a con or long con ala too much watching Hustle on Tv. I think he did feel guilt especially for Tatiana but he got sucked in to the Russian life and his feelings for Masha. He was spending a lot of time thinking with his trousers. His neighbours very appropriate comments didn't make him think enough, his friend the journalist came out with comments too but always that little too late. I can't believe in the world of business even in Russia that they allowed the Cossack to get away with so much. I think he should have felt more anger at being duped over the money. I liked the final phonecall with Katya a confirmation of his naievity yet still left things (like Tatiana's fate) unsaid. Katya gave impression that there was more than a con to Masha's relationship with Nick and perhaps could have given him idea her son was at risk if she didn't.
Not my normal sort of read but it was good.

My question to AD Miller is this 'have you ever been in a similar situation to Nick where someone has tried or even suceeded in duping you? Was it an influence for the book and did you learn from it?'

AugustMoon Sat 21-Jan-12 20:47:58

I'm about half-way through. I like anything Russian usually - the hostility of the place and its checkered history provides an interesting setting - but have to say its slow going and am finding myself getting into bed of an evening and thinking, "should read some of that really" and then spending 2 hours browsing AIBU.
Don't tell me what happens. I gather Nickolai/Kolya (thinking of calling my next child Kolya although I noticed the character's known as "thick Nick" on this thread and I certainly imagine him as a somewhat pasty/waxy fellow with a bit of a paunch) has it off with someone other than Masha....? Not Tatiana Vladimirovna surely? Katya then? The 'sister'? No, don't tell me.

Jux Sun 22-Jan-12 22:26:56

Haven't read Snowdrops and didn't get book tokens for Xmas this year, so will have to wait until someone lends it to me, sorry Mr Miller times is tight.

From what people say it sounds a bit like Futility by Gerhardie, Has anyone read that? I'd be interested to know how they compare?

rjsmum11 Thu 26-Jan-12 20:58:17

I enjoyed this book more than I initially thought i would. The descriptions of Russia & Moscow were intriguing & actually drew me in despite my misgivings. I did feel it was more like a short story, but that's probably due to the tomes i read before it (The Pillars of the Earth/World without End).

I agree that Nick did deep down understand what was happening but went along with it anyway & that it was more of a psychological study of his guilt at being involved (or lack of it?).

As a letter to his fiancée I have to agree that surely the chances of the wedding going ahead after her reading it would be slim!

Does anyone have any thoughts on what they took the fate of Tatiana to be?

kumquatsarethelonelyfruit Mon 30-Jan-12 15:00:18

I really don't think it is Booker Prize material, more something one would pick up at an airport. It is not a bad book but too cliched and derrivative. I would say that Tatiana was murdered rjsmum11.

What was with the whole thing of Tatiana seemingly going along with her own exploitation? Pretty unlikely I'd say.

CountrySlicker Mon 30-Jan-12 20:02:44

Just finished and was drawn in much more than I was expecting. In reply to Kumquatsaretheonlyfruit I felt Tatiana's acceptance was a last fling. The Old russia vs the new. She is loving the attention and the fantasy of the move and the memory of the woods but knows she would never be able to do it, her life in her home has gone and there is no life beyond. That was my take -I am wrong Mr. Miller?

PS What has happened to HullyGully -has she been removed by the FSB?

CountrySlicker Mon 30-Jan-12 20:06:20

If you are out there Hully - I meant that in a positive way, you comments made me want to read this book as much as any review!

whereismywine Mon 30-Jan-12 20:28:38

This wasn't the crime/murder/thriller that the blurb lead me to think but I enjoyed the depiction of Russia very much. I've never been to Russia and now Mr Miller I don't think I ever will. I can still picture the scenes of Russia you created and for me, this was the aspect of the book that will stay with me. I found your characters mostly unlikeable though and agree that would have liked a snippet more about why the whopper of a letter was being written. Had I received such a letter, I would have been looking to see if I couldnreturn my dress and cancel the venue.

My question is this - how did you anticipate Nick being received by readers? I found him exasperating. Was this the intention?

A quick reminder that Mr Miller will be here tomorrow, 9-10pm, replying to the above messages, and more... See you then...

Teaddict Mon 30-Jan-12 22:13:46

Hello Mr Miller, am halfway through Snowdrops and really enjoying it. I agree with whereismywine that your amazing descriptions of Russia make me never want to visit! My question/s are how long did you have to spend in those horrendous winters to be able to describe it so well and is this really an accurate depiction of the Russia of today or have things moved on since then (i.e. do the attractive girls still try and hook an Oligarch as a career path?)

southlondonlady Tue 31-Jan-12 10:23:45

Really looking forward to the webchat tonight smile

glitch Tue 31-Jan-12 10:51:05

I always manage to miss the live chats so I will leave my question now.
I've read that you have been both a journalist and a fiction author. Which do you prefer to read and also which you prefer to write?
Are you a big fiction fan and if so, what book have you got on the go at the moment?

kumquatsarethelonelyfruit Tue 31-Jan-12 12:10:57

Here is my question rephrased:

I am guessing that Tatiana represents the 'Old' Russia being overtaken by the 'New' but why was she so complicit in her own exploitation and (inferring here) demise?

kumquatsarethelonelyfruit Tue 31-Jan-12 12:13:17

Oh, and another -

The male characters (Nick et al) are pretty vile and exploitative. Do you see your novel as having a feminist message?

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 12:16:34

MumsnetHQ testing testing 123

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 15:22:01

<waves placatingly with a bit of rue and even a tiny dressing of snow through the window. Considers nicking the house off the old lady next door before some light sauna sex and a few vodka shots, just to get in the spirit>

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 15:23:54

Do you think it would help if I was him for a bit and answered a few of the questions? Just out of kindness.

kumquatsarethelonelyfruit Tue 31-Jan-12 15:42:59

smile naughty Hullygully!

kumquatsarethelonelyfruit Tue 31-Jan-12 15:44:49

Actually I'll join you. I am Tatiana. I'm wearing out of fashion clothes, sensible shoes and have a 'solid' build. I have a somewhat worn yet trusting look on my face.

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 15:46:03

Is it time to sing Babushka yet?

kumquatsarethelonelyfruit Tue 31-Jan-12 15:47:01

Werrrr is my wodka?

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 15:49:07

Hello Tatiana. You have a face like a potato, but the soul of a bear. A Russian bear that walks alone through frozen woods, massy and dignified. You ARE Great Mother Russia, crushed under the stiletto heels of the flighty near naked New Russian lapdancing Barbies.

My heart cries for you. I dash my glass into the fire and dance wildly, like a cossack. Not the naughty cossack-oligarch, you understand.

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 15:50:22

I have drunken your wodka. You don't need wodka, I will recite Lermontov for you and your heart will swell. Have you taken your statins?

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 15:53:34

Tatiana!

Why do you not speak? Has your noble heart split in pieces like our great mother country? Who will remember the Tsar now?

kumquatsarethelonelyfruit Tue 31-Jan-12 15:54:55

My hearrrrt has swollen under my red star medals comrade.

I weep for you, child of new Russia. Mother Russia cries red tears at your empty heart, blank eyes and freezing cold legs in those PVC mini skirts. Would you not like a greatcoat and a pair of bearskin leggings child?

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 15:57:37

No, because then I couldn't snare the thick nick with his intemperate trouser snake with my sexy wiles and sauna sex. I must do it, it isn't clear why, I think it's plot driven and heavy on ze symbolism. Let us have a toast and then we won't care.

Nostrovia!

kumquatsarethelonelyfruit Tue 31-Jan-12 16:02:49

Nostrovia my child.

My our beloved Stalin's strength be with you on your journey to exploit the evil capitalist western pig (oh and me of course...)

Farewell. I must now return to my labours as my Tsarivich is watching me and I fear a return to the gulag if I do not toil more for the good of my country.

Do svidaniya!

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 16:04:27

Farewell brave Tatiana! I must purchase a red bra and find an odd pretend sister to watch me have sexy time with thick nick. Inexplicable again, but that's us Russkies.

kumquatsarethelonelyfruit Tue 31-Jan-12 16:07:49

I do suspect this book is the equivalent of something like Ryan's Daughter - ie v. full of cultural stereotypes. Mind you, I've never been to Russia; maybe it's all true...

RIGHT! Really have to bugger off now. Am marking GCSEs to a strict deadline.

Looking forward to reading the chat later.

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 16:09:28

hubba hubba!

<making the sexy time with thick nick>

Whizpuff Tue 31-Jan-12 17:14:15

I enjoyed this book and surprisingly enjoyed the inevitability of the story, I suppose I felt smug thinking that I could see what was happening while Nick couldn't (nice piece of flattery for the reader smile

Something I really would like to know is what does AD Miller think happened to the old lady?

mrsbaldwin Tue 31-Jan-12 20:19:41

I can't join the chat unfortunately as I am in another time zone (!!)

But I am reading Snowdrops at the moment - about a third of the way through. I think it's brilliantly good.

My question is:
- do all these marvellous metaphors and other literary devices in the book just come out onto the page for you or do you have to work hard to get them right, frowning over them for hours?

[NB zeugma: "he had a boy band fringe, a ten thousand dollar suit and a murderer's smile"]

Looking forward to your next novel.

champagnesupernova Tue 31-Jan-12 20:26:31

Hello all.

I liked the comment about the perplexed potato.

I did enjoy the book.

I have not been well and though it felt like a page turner, wasn't desperate to get back to it. But as I said, I have not been well.

It sort of felt like a beach book, but not sure I would fancy reading about all that snow and cold on the beach grin

Actually, I was reading on my kindle so more like a "thumb-presser"

I haven't thought of any questions yet for you Mr Miller, other than perhaps a shallow one "why initials and not your name?"

Will watch with interest.

Greedygirl Tue 31-Jan-12 20:27:11

Thought I better pop on to balance out the naysayers <glares!>

I really enjoyed the book. I didn't think that the letter was really meant to be read by his finance, I imagined it was Nick just pouring out his heart in a dear diary kind of matter to be chucked on the fire - is this the case or do you imagine that Nick actually intended to give the letter to his girlfriend? In which case, he is indeed thick.

How do you respond to those people who think it is full of stereotypes? I have just read The Help and really enjoyed that but that has also been accused of being stereotypical. Is it based on your experiences?

lilyfire Tue 31-Jan-12 20:36:14

I really enjoyed Snowdrops and I'm so pleased you are on here, because as soon as I finished the book there was a question I really wanted to ask you:

When I was reading the book I was thinking a lot about Crime and Punishment. Nick seemed to be a modern day Raskolnikov, a lawyer, but without any pretence of ideology and so his involvement in the death of Tatiana was through inaction (not action like Raskolnikov and his 'old woman'); Masha is like Sonia, but without virtue or religion, she's just pragmatic. How much were you thinking about Crime and Punishment when you were writing the book?

Bellstar Tue 31-Jan-12 20:56:51

I have been slightly/very obsessedblush with russia since I was very young. I have a completely romantic view though-all doctor zhivago.bolshoi ballet,anna karenina etc.

My question is-nick seems to be seduced by russia? is that the effect it had on you? does it still hold you in its thrall?<please please say yes and dont spoil my romantic ideal>

Evening everyone

Well, there couldn't be a more heated way to kick off an icy New Year. SNOWDROPS has elicited strong responses from fans and critics alike, and I am thrilled that AD Miller is here to throw light on the inspiration and ideas behind the book.

There is much to pack into an hour, so without further ado....

Mr Miller, firstly, thank you very much indeed to taking the time to join us. And many congratulations on such a successful and vividly atmospheric novel. We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many new ones as possible over the next hour (although getting through the current stack of comments may take a good chunk of that...)

I'd also like to add our two standard MN Bookclub questions:

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

Over to you...

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:02:43

First of all, thanks for having me and for reading and thinking about my book. On your standard questions: Book: The answer to this depends on how you define childhood. When I very young my mother gave me archy and mehitabel, which I loved. When I was ten-ish I used to read a lot of Agatha Christie books. If we’re talking about school days, then perhaps The Great Gatsby or A Handful of Dust. Being a little more flexible, then probably Moby-Dick, which I read on my gap year.

On writing: Do it your own way—ie, try to find your own voice. Also, stick at it. Writing a novel is a long, lonely enterprise: as much as anything else, it takes a lot of stamina.

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:04:32

yUMMYmUMMYb

finished the book, and i did find it really easy reading and enjoyed the style of writing and descriptions of characters. however, i do agree that the ending was somewhat disappointing.
my question - is there a follow up book planned, being penned? it seemed to me that i'd like to find out more about Nick's current situation. also, how much personal experience is in the book?

Good, it works! Thanks for the question yUMMYmUMMYb. I’m sorry that you didn’t like the ending. It is intentionally opaque, partly because that’s how things often are in Russia, a place where getting to the bottom of events, and crimes in particular, can often be impossible. You sometimes feel as if you’re living in a world of infinite regress. This isn’t a story in which anyone is punished, or in which the guilty feel their guilt very acutely. Nick doesn’t even leave Russia because of what happens to Tatiana: he only goes because he has to, on account of his job. So this isn’t a very consoling story, I’m afraid. And I’m afraid I intend to leave it there; me and Nick Platt are done (me and Russia too, so far as novels are concerned).

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:06:39

southlondonlady

OK I've finished it now and really enjoyed it - def a page turner. I can see now that Nick was not being niave, he knew he was being played but in fact didn't care because he just wanted some glamour in his life. I'd say there are plenty of men like this out there. There's also the interesting point as to how do people's boundaries change when in an unfamiliar environment away from family and friends. Nick's story is an extreme example obviously but lots of people do things on holiday that they would never do at home.

My question: what is the likelihood of the wedding going ahead now?! Aside from Nick's part in tricking the old lady, he's also told his fiance that he misses Masha and that she (the fiance) is part of his now "thin life". I think the chances are not good!

I agree with you southlondonlady. The point of the framing device is to reflect and reinforce the themes and mood of the Moscow narrative. I tried to disorient the reader in various ways: this might seem like a story about scheming Russians and naïve westerners, but it turns out (I hope) to be more morally complicated than that. Similarly, the story is presented as a confession, but the reader might begin too wonder how guilty Nick really feels about what he’s done, and whether he fully understands their gravity. They might also ask whether Nick’s feelings towards his fiancée and impending marriage are more complicated than they seemed at the beginning. As you say, I imagine the fiancee’s feelings might have changed a bit by the end, too.
Incidentally, I’m pleased that you’ve picked up on the fact that Nick isn’t really naïve: wilfully blind and self-deceiving, yes, but not gullible, exactly. He can see what’s happening but goes along with it anyway.

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:08:37

typicalvirgo

Right, in the spirit of a book club discussion my question to A D is this:

being selected for a man booker award must be a fantastic experience for you. How important do you feel that being selected for such lists is and how did you go about this ? do you think being on a, for example, richard & judy book list helps get your work read by a wider audience ?

Hi typicalvirgo. As the author, you have no influence over the Booker process at all. You write the book, and hope that someone else will like it enough to publish it. Publishers decide which novels they want to submit for prizes (for the Booker, I think they get an allowance of two or three books per imprint); the judges decide which books they think should be shortlisted, etc. For me, the whole Booker experience was wonderful—when I was writing Snowdrops, I wasn’t at all sure that it would ever see the light of day—but also surreal and occasionally upsetting. As for Richard & Judy, I’m afraid I don’t know, since they haven’t picked me, though I imagine that they’re pretty good for sales!

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:12:24

Bellstar

I bought this book a ccouple of days ago. Was wary after seeing some of the comments on here<glares at hully> but I have to say I enjoyed it. Thought the description of life in post soviet moscow was excellent.

I dont know if I would describe it as a thriller as I agree-it wasnt that thrilling. I think it was more pyschological-looking at the influence of moscow,its culture and its people on nicks life.

Thanks Bellstar. I can see others feel the same way as you. You are right that this is not a conventional thriller. I never intended it to be. There are no spies and very little violence (none that we actually see, in fact). The term I have used for it is “moral thriller”—ie, this is a book about how something—a bad thing--happens: how does an ordinary person like Nick come to be complicit in very bad deeds? Part of the answer is Moscow; part of it is him, his background, his yearning for excitement and his lasciviousness; part of it, also, is something more ancient: our ability to deceive ourselves, in particular to tell ourselves that true responsibility lies elsewhere. In a way the most important moments in the book are ones where Nick recognises a lie, but knowingly chooses to ignore it.

Somewhere towards the end of the book, Nick writes that the real snowdrop in the story is him: that what he discovers when the snow thaws is himself, and what he’s capable of. That is what the image and the title are supposed ultimately to represent: dark. close truths about ourselves that we would prefer not to confront.

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:16:27

cakes82

Just finished reading this book. I pick my books normally by the blurb on the back and if I can read and like the first page. This one fitted that category and I enjoyed it. I found some of the names of places and people difficult and a bit confusing, but i'm not used to anything Russian. I think perhaps it needed a little more explanation about his fiance and why Nick felt the need to write to her- perhaps after an argument for example. I realised about three quarters of the way through that it was a con or long con ala too much watching Hustle on Tv. I think he did feel guilt especially for Tatiana but he got sucked in to the Russian life and his feelings for Masha. He was spending a lot of time thinking with his trousers. His neighbours very appropriate comments didn't make him think enough, his friend the journalist came out with comments too but always that little too late. I can't believe in the world of business even in Russia that they allowed the Cossack to get away with so much. I think he should have felt more anger at being duped over the money. I liked the final phonecall with Katya a confirmation of his naievity yet still left things (like Tatiana's fate) unsaid. Katya gave impression that there was more than a con to Masha's relationship with Nick and perhaps could have given him idea her son was at risk if she didn't.
Not my normal sort of read but it was good.

My question to AD Miller is this 'have you ever been in a similar situation to Nick where someone has tried or even suceeded in duping you? Was it an influence for the book and did you learn from it?'

Thanks cakes82. I should say that this book isn’t autobiographical. I lived in Moscow for three years--but I lived there will my wife. I lived a very different life to Nick. I wasn’t involved in any acts of grand larceny or murder.
Having said that, there is a lot in Snowdrops that is drawn from personal observation, if not direct experience—of the city and the way the foreigners who lived there found themselves behaving. And this is as much a portrait of a time as of a place: the years before the credit crunch, a time of no-questions-asked money-making, and general blind-eye-turning, not just in Moscow but elsewhere.
This relates to your point about the Cossack and the oil terminal plot in Snowdrops. Six or seven years ago, bankers really were lending silly amounts of money to Russian firms with little or no security, for some of the same reasons that brought about the financial crisis—perverse incentives which meant they didn’t worry too much about whether the banks would ever get the money back again. The plot in my novel is maybe a slight exaggeration of the sort of things that used to go on, but not an enormous one.
By the way, I’m pleased you pick up on relationship between Nick and Tatiana. I wanted to convey the idea that he likes her, genuinely, though that doesn’t stop him doing what he does.

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 21:18:29

I wonder how many of the experiences in the book you describe you draw on from your own life?

I am thinking particularly of the saunas. I know that the last time I was in a sauna, in Finland, the heat drew the pine resin out of the walls and my hair stuck to it and completely ruined any sexy time ambience.

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 21:19:50

Ah, I see from your last post that it isn't drawn from personal experience.

champagnesupernova Tue 31-Jan-12 21:20:05

So: I have another question:
the narrative itself and its relation to the new fiancée" - is it meant to be conversational? Or written?

That was one part that raised my eyebrows - it is one thing to say "Erm yes, we had sex and her mate watched blush" but would someone even as blind and self deceiving as Nick really be going into details like "there were marks on her body from where we'd been at it"? (sorry, I paraphrase)

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:21:10

CountrySlicker

Just finished and was drawn in much more than I was expecting. In reply to Kumquatsaretheonlyfruit I felt Tatiana's acceptance was a last fling. The Old russia vs the new. She is loving the attention and the fantasy of the move and the memory of the woods but knows she would never be able to do it, her life in her home has gone and there is no life beyond. That was my take -I am wrong Mr. Miller?

PS What has happened to HullyGully -has she been removed by the FSB?

You’re not wrong, countryslicker. In my mind Tatiana is a bit like Nick, in a way: lonely and therefore vulnerable. She doesn’t go along with it exactly, but she is needy and flattered by the youngsters’ attention and turns a(nother) blind eye. For all her worldliness and experience of wartime and the Soviet era, she’s a bit adrift and out of her depths in the new Russia. I met quite a lot of elderly Russians like that.

By the way, I'm pretty sure HullyGully can handle the FSB

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 21:21:37

Did you notice that the women were just the itsiest bitsiest teensiest bit stereotypical? Did you mean them to be? If so, why?

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 21:23:46

I do hope, by the way, that you took my jesting in good part?

I'm just jealous of your success.

yUMMYmUMMYb Tue 31-Jan-12 21:24:17

thanks for answering my question. disappointed there will not be another russian book. what are you currently working on?

"our ability to deceive ourselves, in particular to tell ourselves that true responsibility lies elsewhere" really sums up how i would describe this book. although i was disappointed by the ending, it was probably because i was hoping for an unrealistic human response.

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 21:24:50

envious

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:25:54

whereismywine

This wasn't the crime/murder/thriller that the blurb lead me to think but I enjoyed the depiction of Russia very much. I've never been to Russia and now Mr Miller I don't think I ever will. I can still picture the scenes of Russia you created and for me, this was the aspect of the book that will stay with me. I found your characters mostly unlikeable though and agree that would have liked a snippet more about why the whopper of a letter was being written. Had I received such a letter, I would have been looking to see if I couldnreturn my dress and cancel the venue.

My question is this - how did you anticipate Nick being received by readers? I found him exasperating. Was this the intention?

The short answer is yes. I hope that at the beginning of the book he comes across as a reasonably likeable, recognisable sort of guy—not a hero, but not a villain either. He’s a drifting, lonely 30-something. He’s nice to his neighbour and gives money to beggars. But he changes, and because of his circumstances and self-deception, comes to behave in ways that he might never have imagined. So yes, absolutely, you’re supposed to judge him; if you like him by the end, I’ve done something wrong! But at the same time, I hope readers will be able to follow what he does, and understand why he does it.

By the way, if you find your wine, could you take a look for my whiskey?

champagnesupernova Tue 31-Jan-12 21:27:21

But presumably also he lost out on the £25k, and Masha and Katya conned HIM too? Or did delirium take over and I miss that bit?

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 21:28:19

I do wonder, what was the point of the pretend sister watching them have sexy time?

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:28:28

Teaddict

Hello Mr Miller, am halfway through Snowdrops and really enjoying it. I agree with whereismywine that your amazing descriptions of Russia make me never want to visit! My question/s are how long did you have to spend in those horrendous winters to be able to describe it so well and is this really an accurate depiction of the Russia of today or have things moved on since then (i.e. do the attractive girls still try and hook an Oligarch as a career path?)

Hi Teaddict and thanks for your question. As I think I’ve said, I spent three years in Russia, working as a foreign correspondent. Actually I quite liked the winters, in a way—albeit not the day when Moscow was the coldest it had been since 1941, and the zip on my coat broke.
On your question about the depiction of Russia: I’d like to stress this isn’t a comprehensive portrait of Moscow, let alone Russia. There are lots of other stories you could tell about that country, including heroic ones: the best and bravest people I’ve ever met have been Russians. This is a first-person vision of Moscow through the eyes and experiences of one louche expat—an account that I hope ultimately reflects on him and his weaknesses as much as on the setting.
But on the other hand, the kinds of crime that the book describes, the pervasive corruption it depicts and the vulnerability of people without powerful connections, like Tatiana, are real. The sort of apartment fraud that is at the heart of the story is in a way the quintessential post-Soviet crime: it happened an awful lot in the 1990s and still goes on today. And you don’t have to take my word for that: Russia’s leaders frequently bang on about the evils of the corruption, since they could hardly deny it. In those ways, I’m afraid, things haven’t changed much.

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:32:06

glitch

I always manage to miss the live chats so I will leave my question now.
I've read that you have been both a journalist and a fiction author. Which do you prefer to read and also which you prefer to write?
Are you a big fiction fan and if so, what book have you got on the go at the moment?

Hi glitch.
Yes I read a lot of fiction (insofar as I read anything much these days: we have a four-year-old girl and a nine-month-old boy, so I mostly read the Gruffalo). At the moment I’m reading Fathers and Sons by Turgenev.
I enjoy both journalism and novel-writing and hope to carry on with both. I’m only a novice fiction author, but it seems to me that the challenges of the two are not as different as you might think. Yes, in a novel, you’ve got the freedom and the burden of invention (I’m aware that some people think that comes naturally to journalists). But in other ways, there’s a lot of overlap: the big challenges, or some of them, are decision-making (there are an infinite number of directions in which a chapter or a paragraph or even a sentence can go); structure; above all the morale of the author. Digressions in an article and sub-plots in a novel are both hard to pull off. Beginnings and endings are always tough. I think a journalistic background is in some ways quite useful for writing novels. Apart from anything else, it means you’re used to criticism.

Speaking of which: I'll get to your questions I hope Hullygully

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 21:34:36

You don't have to, I don't mind. My son has just read this thread and told me I'm horrid so I might go and beat myself with the old birch sticks in the nearly-snow in the garden.

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:35:23

kumquatsarethelonelyfruit

Oh, and another -

The male characters (Nick et al) are pretty vile and exploitative. Do you see your novel as having a feminist message?

I’m really pleased that you’ve asked me this (and good pen name, by the way). Hully has asked me a version of the same thing. Again, short answer: yes.

When you send a book into the world, you have to be prepared for people to respond in all kinds of ways that you weren’t expecting and might not like (as in some of the posts in this discussion). But something that has been a bit distressing for me is for readers to confuse the voice of the narrator with the message of the book. This is Nick’s account of himself; these are his views, even his style and syntax. I wanted readers to judge Nick—not least in his attitude to women, which is pretty exploitative and sleazy. The way men like him—and there are quite a lot of them—think about women, and what that leads them to do, is one of the themes of the book.

Interestingly, al jazeera have an article on their website today about people being removed from their homes in St Petersburg
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2012/01/201213173411567288.html
Suggests that the problems you write about in the book aren't entirely in the past...

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:37:47

Whizpuff

I enjoyed this book and surprisingly enjoyed the inevitability of the story, I suppose I felt smug thinking that I could see what was happening while Nick couldn't (nice piece of flattery for the reader smile

Something I really would like to know is what does AD Miller think happened to the old lady?

Hi Whizpuff. Like Nick, I’m afraid she has probably come to a sticky end. But I think I feel a lot sadder about that than Nick does. On the inevitability thing: this is a "how" book, not a "what" book. You find out on page 1 that something awful will happen, and somewhere along the way you will work out roughly what it is. I wanted the reader to see ahead of Nick, and think “oh no, don’t”--then see how he did it anyway

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:39:22

mrsbaldwin

I can't join the chat unfortunately as I am in another time zone (!!)

But I am reading Snowdrops at the moment - about a third of the way through. I think it's brilliantly good.

My question is:
- do all these marvellous metaphors and other literary devices in the book just come out onto the page for you or do you have to work hard to get them right, frowning over them for hours?

[NB zeugma: "he had a boy band fringe, a ten thousand dollar suit and a murderer's smile"]

Looking forward to your next novel.

Thank you very much indeed mrsbaldwin. The answer is: it’s all work. Yes, sometimes a turn of phrase sort of comes to you, but then you have to make it fit, iron it out, and in some cases cross it out. There are a few places in the book where I think perhaps I should have done more of that. But I’d rather take risks with my writing, and try to make it interesting, than play safe. I hope you enjoy the rest of the novel--and safe travels.

Adding to whereismywine's question, and your answer:

Were any of Nick's personality traits inspired by foreign/war correspondents that you've met through work? It seemed to me, especially at the end, when Nick is mourning his 'full' life in Russia and bemoaning his 'thin' life ahead, that he is addicted to the thrill and the messiness and the 'otherness' of it all. And that seems to be a strong tradition amongst foreign correspondent journalists too...

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:40:53

champagnesupernova

Hello all.

I liked the comment about the perplexed potato.

I did enjoy the book.

I have not been well and though it felt like a page turner, wasn't desperate to get back to it. But as I said, I have not been well.

It sort of felt like a beach book, but not sure I would fancy reading about all that snow and cold on the beach grin

Actually, I was reading on my kindle so more like a "thumb-presser"

I haven't thought of any questions yet for you Mr Miller, other than perhaps a shallow one "why initials and not your name?"

Will watch with interest.

Hi champagnesupernova. I know it sounds like a bit of an affectation, but in fact there’s a perfectly innocent explanation. My first name is Andrew, but Andrew Miller is taken at the moment (by the author of Pure, which just won the Costa book prize). I guess I could have invented something, like, I dunno, Tarquan Hunter, but instead I retreated into initials.

CountrySlicker Tue 31-Jan-12 21:41:44

I think we can all be a Titiana sometimes, its as fun to go along for the ride despite the consequences, she and Nick take it to extremes, but sometimes its as fun to stay on the bus as it is scary to get off. Not that I am advocating having your flat stolen and probably being murdered, but it had its moments of suspended disbelief and adventure for her. I hope she is picking mushrooms somewhere.

Cashew Tue 31-Jan-12 21:41:53

Hi to any Book Buddies following this!
I am watching the thread with interest, having only read the first few chapters so far. I have to say I'm enjoying the read so far (having really struggled with the last few book choices of my lovely Book Buddies group).
I am mostly reading 'The Gruffalo's Child' at the moment & 'Charlie's Superhero Underpants', so it's good to get stuck into something for me. Thank you.

CountrySlicker Tue 31-Jan-12 21:43:23

Quite like Tarquan Hunter. Will look out for the seat of your pants tales of daring-do...

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:43:37

Greedygirl

Thought I better pop on to balance out the naysayers <glares!>

I really enjoyed the book. I didn't think that the letter was really meant to be read by his finance, I imagined it was Nick just pouring out his heart in a dear diary kind of matter to be chucked on the fire - is this the case or do you imagine that Nick actually intended to give the letter to his girlfriend? In which case, he is indeed thick.

How do you respond to those people who think it is full of stereotypes? I have just read The Help and really enjoyed that but that has also been accused of being stereotypical. Is it based on your experiences?

Thanks Greedygirl; I'm pleased you liked it. Well, obviously I don’t agree with them—except in the sense that, as some stereotypes do, the sorts of people who are characters in my book really do exist. There are indeed some thuggish businessmen in Russia who, like the Cossack in my story, have progressed from crime to business and finally into politics. I could name some for you but I don’t think mumsnet’s lawyers would thank me. There are lots of baffled old people and some unscrupulous young ones. Sex is a big industry in high-rolling central Moscow—ie the part of it that Nick frequents. I think most people who have spent time there would recognise these features.
In any case, whatever you think of my characters, I hope there are some details of Russian life--what the Metro is like, or the suburban trains, or Moscow architecture or the different phases of the winter—that might be new and interesting to you

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:45:14

lilyfire

I really enjoyed Snowdrops and I'm so pleased you are on here, because as soon as I finished the book there was a question I really wanted to ask you:

When I was reading the book I was thinking a lot about Crime and Punishment. Nick seemed to be a modern day Raskolnikov, a lawyer, but without any pretence of ideology and so his involvement in the death of Tatiana was through inaction (not action like Raskolnikov and his 'old woman'); Masha is like Sonia, but without virtue or religion, she's just pragmatic. How much were you thinking about Crime and Punishment when you were writing the book?

Hi lilyfire and thanks for this great question. Yes, I think Dostoevsky was definitely lurking somewhere at the back of my mind when I wrote Snowdrops. Nobody does filthy honesty better than him: love that contains hate, conversations that are really wars, etc. I am in no way making a comparison, but I am sort of gripped by some of the same things that exercised him: what is a crime, who commits it—ie, just the person who wields the knife or other people too, passively or otherwise—and how do they live with themselves afterwards? In a way I think the Brothers Karamazov was an even bigger influence than C&P.

Hullygully Tue 31-Jan-12 21:45:21

Maybe the problem then for me is that Nick simply didn't convince as a character.

I still want to know the point of the pretend sister watching the sexy time?

champagnesupernova Tue 31-Jan-12 21:47:19

Thanks Andrew (may I call you that?)
Fair enough. How annoying about the other chap. grin
Also please can you answer my question about the £25K? am going mad blush

Catgirl73 Tue 31-Jan-12 21:47:47

Thanks for a great read. I particularly liked the fact that what the reader thought would happen - Nick coming to his senses and 'saving the day' - didn't! For me this made it a much more interesting book contemplating the human psyche and how ordinary people can be capable of awful actions if the right circumstances present themselves. Fascinating and food for thought.

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:47:57

Bellstar

I have been slightly/very obsessedblush with russia since I was very young. I have a completely romantic view though-all doctor zhivago.bolshoi ballet,anna karenina etc.

My question is-nick seems to be seduced by russia? is that the effect it had on you? does it still hold you in its thrall?<please please say yes and dont spoil my romantic ideal>

Since you are ask so nicely--but also since it's true--yes, definitely, though not for the same reasons as Nick. There is no resigning from Russia: it is too fascinating, too alive, too infuriating and addictive a place. I hope some of that comes through in the book, along with all the bleakness.

justinpatch Tue 31-Jan-12 21:51:35

We're moving to Moscow in the summer, I have (my free) copy of Snowdrops waiting at Mum and Dad's so am following this with great interest...hoping to discover this louche, sauna fuelled way of life......

Teaddict Tue 31-Jan-12 21:52:33

Thanks for answering my question Andrew, my first book in the Mumsnet bookclub (or any for that matter) and also first live web chat ever, haven't been this excited since nappies were half price in Sainsburys! New year's resolution to expand fluffy SAHM mind is on track....
Off to bed to finish Snowdrops. Good luck with your career/s.

Greedygirl Tue 31-Jan-12 21:52:59

Thanks for answering A.D. Miller!

Catgirl73 - yes, that is what I liked. I believe that we are all capable of horrible stuff in the right (wrong) circumstances.

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:53:28

Hullygully

I do hope, by the way, that you took my jesting in good part?

I'm just jealous of your success.

Hi Hully. I'm sorry you didn't like the book. I hope I've answered some of your points, if not completely to your satisfaction. Re: the sex thing: what's the point of anything, in life or in a novel? I imagine Katya was there a) for security and b) because they knew he'd like it.

And don't worry, I'm not offended: I've had worse. I had a particularly hairy time once with the mayor of Vladivostok. I thought your role play was very funny, by the way. You obviously know a lot about Russia.

With only five minutes left on the clock, I quickly want to ask what you're working on at the moment?

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:55:31

champagnesupernova

Thanks Andrew (may I call you that?)
Fair enough. How annoying about the other chap. grin
Also please can you answer my question about the £25K? am going mad blush

Yes they conned him too, though he didn't really expect to get that money back, did he? I think he says somewhere that he was almost glad to pay up, since he knew there had to be a price, and it turned out to be only money.

CountrySlicker Tue 31-Jan-12 21:56:28

Signing off now. Really great chat and thanks for answering mine and so many questions, great buzz to this one!

champagnesupernova Tue 31-Jan-12 21:56:43

oh do come to the next one teaaddict. usually good fun grin
<smilles winningly at AD in the hope of her £25k question being answered>
<thinks about phoning a friend to smile winningly toowink>

champagnesupernova Tue 31-Jan-12 21:57:23

oops. x-post blush

Bellstar Tue 31-Jan-12 21:57:46

Thanks for answeing my question too!! Am going to re-read the book as would like to see if I can also see the parallels with c&P-the borthers is one of my fave books evergrin

Maybe one day I will get to russia and see if its as I have imagined it<daydreams?

All the best.

Greedygirl Tue 31-Jan-12 21:58:15

oh a super quick question - what did your wife think about the way women were viewed/objectified in Russia?|

southlondonlady Tue 31-Jan-12 21:58:20

Hi AD Miller, thanks for answering my question, and all the others, great discussion.

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 21:59:00

TillyBookClub

Adding to whereismywine's question, and your answer:

Were any of Nick's personality traits inspired by foreign/war correspondents that you've met through work? It seemed to me, especially at the end, when Nick is mourning his 'full' life in Russia and bemoaning his 'thin' life ahead, that he is addicted to the thrill and the messiness and the 'otherness' of it all. And that seems to be a strong tradition amongst foreign correspondent journalists too...

Hi Tilly. Yes, I met lots of expats who were a bit like Nick: lonely, allergic to home and their families (though actually I think Nick's parents are much less bad than he does), constantly behaving as if they're on a long, irresponsible holiday. And yes, journalists, too. There is a journalist in the novel in fact, who has some composite traits of various of my colleagues. No names will be named (see reference to lawyers above).

In answer to your final question. I'm working on a novel called The Faithful Couple. It's set in California and London. Hully, I promise to stay away from saunas.

Greedygirl Tue 31-Jan-12 21:59:12

Don't worry if not enough time - I am indeed greedy. Great chat everyone.

HandMadeTail Tue 31-Jan-12 22:00:46

I'm pleased I read this, as I just didn't get why nick went through with it, and didn't tell Tatiana what was going on. And now I see that actually, in a way, life isn't like that. We all do sometimes go along with things we know are wrong, and this story is an extension of that. So thank you Mr Miller and mumsnetters.

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 22:02:04

Greedygirl

oh a super quick question - what did your wife think about the way women were viewed/objectified in Russia?|

She is sitting next to me so I'll ask her.

She says it's a very chauvinist place.

Champagne etc: I did the 25k question!

Outta time, I fear: thanks for having me.

Blackcabmum Tue 31-Jan-12 22:03:21

Great book, great discussion and first time on mn book club. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Such a positive experience I will be back.

champagnesupernova Tue 31-Jan-12 22:04:05

Sorry, we cross posted. Thanks again for the chat and the book.
Will look out for your next one.
Dosvedanya <sp?>

Time is up... thanks to everyone for their excellent questions and for making this such a brilliant chat.

Andrew (or can we call you Andreivitch to distinguish from author of Pure?), thank you very very much indeed for giving us so much of your time and energy and for answering all our questions with such thoughtfulness. I can't wait to see what you do next. Good luck with it all... and many thanks once again.

ADMiller Tue 31-Jan-12 22:07:26

TillyBookClub

Time is up... thanks to everyone for their excellent questions and for making this such a brilliant chat.

Andrew (or can we call you Andreivitch to distinguish from author of Pure?), thank you very very much indeed for giving us so much of your time and energy and for answering all our questions with such thoughtfulness. I can't wait to see what you do next. Good luck with it all... and many thanks once again.

Thanks Tilly and thanks everyone for your questions and comments. I think this is the best discussion of my novel that I've had.

All good things
Andreivitch

If anyone wondering what February holds in store, then keep an eye out tomorrow - I'll be posting the thread around mid-morning. Very different kettle of fish, though it does star the overtly manly and quite Russian bear-like Ernest Hemingway living in the sex-mad, louche French capital...

Hully/kumquat, longing to hear your pastiche on Jazz Age Paris...please say you'll be back.

Really enjoyed this evening. Hope to see you all at the end of Feb for the next author chat.

Hullygully Wed 01-Feb-12 08:59:44

Have to say that Andreivitch means Son of Andrew...so unless his father is also Andrew...

February's bookclub up and running - hope to see you all at the end of the month

Nevergarglebrandybutter Sat 04-Feb-12 11:31:43

Last night I gave up on this book having been unable to keep plodding on in time for this thread.
Jeez, it was crap.
For a start, NO likeable characters.
Yes, russia is an amazing place, i've been. and Yes it snows.
I got 2/3 of the way through and NOTHING had actually happened so I skipped to the end to find that there was no twist, just an expected ending.
Dull man goes to Moscow, meets some skanks and some corrupt businessmen and gets screwed over.
Did i miss anything?
Sorry AD Miller, it didn't do it for me.

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