By A.D. Miller
During the mid-nauts, Nick Platt moves from London to Moscow with his law firm and spends four and a half years working in Moscow, and enjoying life during Russia’s oil boom. At the beginning of his third year abroad Nick meets two Russian women, Masha and Katya, on the metro, who change his relationship with the country. Told in the second person, Nick recounts this final year in Moscow to his fiancée.
Snowdrops is a slow-burning thriller that gradually unfolds on the page; I will be careful not to give away too much. It is a very voice-driven story and I found Nick to be an open and accessible narrator who builds suspense with very little drama. Most of the story recounts Nick’s day-to-day life: dates with Masha and Katya, visits with their aunt Tatiana Vladimirovna, business deals with his law colleagues, and lunches with Nick’s journalist friend Steve Walsh, but it is quickly apparent that something deeper and more ominous than nights at bars and lunches with vodka shots happened to Nick that last year in Moscow. You just need to read until the end to find out what happened….
This book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011. A.D. Miller is an English journalist who lived in Moscow and worked as a correspondent for The Economist. After reading this book, I was interested to see that it got mixed reviews on GoodReads with many people not liking the narrator and feeling the story was flat. I enjoyed the narrative voice and felt that the telling to an off-page fiancée harked back to mid-20th Century novels, like The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford. My only complaint with the book is that it focuses on the negative aspects of Russian culture – bribery, fraud, men with a cell phone for each of their lovers, strip clubs and crime – in a way that confirms Western biases about corrupt Russian culture. But I thoroughly enjoyed this book and kept turning the pages to find out what happened to Nick.