This is my first book review of 2018 and I couldn’t have picked a better book to kick things off with. Though I read this in 2017, I am ringing in the new year with love and snow!
There is something about Jennifer Laam’s writing that I find so lovely and elegant. It’s hard to describe but her books are consistently good and well written which made me all the more anxious to read this one!
At the age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. But while she finds joy in French translations and a history of Russian poetry, her family is more concerned with her marriage prospects.
It is only fitting that during the Christmas of 1828 at her first public ball in her hometown of Moscow she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin.
Enchanted at first sight, Natalya is already a devoted reader of Alexander’s serialized novel in verse, Evgeny Onegin. The most recently published chapter ends in a duel, and she is dying to learn what happens next. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya hopes to see him again as soon as possible.
What follows is a courtship and later marriage full of equal parts passion and domestic bliss but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads to Alexander dying from injuries earned defending his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, Natalya finds herself reviled for her alleged role in his death.
With beautiful writing and understanding, Jennifer Laam, and her compelling new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, help Natalya tell her side of the story—the story of her greatest love and her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court (summary from Goodreads).
Laam clearly has an interest in Russia, as most of her novels are based on Russian history which is refreshing and unique in a sea of books set in Tudor England (the first time period that comes to mind when someone says ‘historical fiction’). Her novels are always well researched and authentic feeling. This book was no different, though slightly shorter than her other novels (about 350 pages, while her others are around 360), it still was packed full of historical details.
This book had a distinct holiday feel to it, as Natalya met Alexander during a Christmas ball. I felt like the setting and especially reading it at the holiday time, made it all the more cozy and fun to read. I loved the tension between the characters and the romance that developed and even the heart break was fitting and had the right amount of tragedy.
Some people complained that the novel was too short to develop in-depth characters or story, however I felt differently. Could the character development have gone deeper—yes. But this novel wasn’t meant to be an ‘epic’. Could it have been an epic—-yes. But for me I thought the length was perfect for a broad audience. It offers a balanced amount of character development, history, and romance without being overly long which might alienate some readers making them lose interest. This book has a much broader appeal to readers. There is enough to make the reader feel connected and invested in the characters as well as enough history to satisfy fans of historical fiction, but it’s not so long that readers find themselves wondering when they can start their next book.
I personally loved how balanced the story was and how easy it was to read and connect with Natalya and Alexander. The romance was well written and as usual, there is an elegance about Laam’s writing that is her signature style.
If you are looking for something unique and elegant, give Laam’s novels a try. She has never disappointed me in her novels!
- Review copy provided by: Author/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This book counts toward: NA
- Hosted by: NA
- Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 4 out of 5
Genre: Historical fiction, Romance, Russia