Sunday, June 30, 2013


Sometimes works of fiction can tell us more about a destination than even the best travel guidebook. “Snowdrops” by A.D. Miller is such a book.

Set in Moscow in the 2000s, it is a tale told by a young British lawyer writing to his fiancé about his time abroad. The protagonist is, like many of those who have flocked to Russia since the end of the Soviet Union, a deeply flawed character but nevertheless sympathetic. In recent decades Russia has tended to attract foreigners in search of sex with willing, often beautiful women, steamy nightlife, and dreams of adventure and riches.

The hero of “Snowdrops” is such a person. The title of the book refers to the term Russians use to describe the corpses who are uncovered after the end of a long winter, dead from exposure, alcoholism or foul play.

Miller’s writing and descriptions of Moscow and its characters is wonderful. His story of the misadventures of the lawyer will, I expect, hold your attention from the first page. While travelling by Metro, he encounters two young women who claim to be sisters, and develops a relationship with one of them. They in turn introduce him to an older woman, their aunt, who dreams of exchanging her central Moscow apartment for a quieter place in the suburbs.

The complications that ensue entangle the lawyer in nefarious doings of which he is ultimately quite ashamed. Even his day job, writing contracts for oil executives with connections, is one he finds lacking in meaning .But at the end of the book, after he has left the country, he admits that his primary emotion is not guilt but loss, loss of the magic of Moscow.

A.D. Miller writes for The Economist ( and his book was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in England. If you can’t make it to Russia this year, reading this book may be the next best thing.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Margaret,

It's great to know someone else enjoyed the same book. Snowdrops is excellent, and it certainly portrayed a Moscow that surprised, in more ways than one. Must reread it soon.

Your friend Joan in PEI

10:31 am


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