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

(174 Posts)
TillyBookClub Wed 30-Nov-11 22:27:20

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, 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.

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.

catchafallingstar Sun 08-Jan-12 22:07:16

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

TillyBookClub Mon 09-Jan-12 11:09:47

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


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 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.

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