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Snowdrops: A Novel Hardcover – February 22, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385533446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385533447
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,143,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Things may not be what they appear, but they turn out to be exactly what readers will predict in this saggy debut about shady business deals in go-go capitalist Russia. Nick Platt, a lawyer who has traded his dull British life for pushing paper in Moscow, soon takes up with a leggy young Russian about whom he knows nothing and, at her behest, helps a babushka trade her fabulous apartment for a half-built place in the country. The deal seems like a scam, and, of course, it is, but Nick is blinded by lust and nearly always a step behind the reader. He blithely gets involved in a multimillion-dollar loan for an oil pipeline brokered by a dodgy fellow known only as "the Cossack," even after a key player goes missing. Most readers will not be so easily duped, and Nick's oft-repeated I-should-have seen-it-comings undercut any suspense that might remain, though there are interesting bits to be found in the travelogue-style writing about the new Russia. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Written as a man’s confession to the woman he’s going to marry, Miller’s masterful debut chronicles British lawyer Nicholas Platt’s dubious dealings in Moscow at the turn of the twenty-first century. Nick’s descent begins with what seems to be an innocuous meeting with two beautiful Russian sisters, Masha and Katya, whom he saves from a purse-snatcher. He’s immediately drawn to the sensual, remote Masha, who soon becomes his lover. Nick doesn’t think anything of it when Masha and Katya take him to meet their Aunt Tatiana, and Masha’s request that he help Tatiana broker a deal to exchange her Moscow apartment for one out in the country seems simple enough. As Nick, guided by Masha, helps Tatiana hammer out the details of the apartment exchange, little inconsistencies nag at him, but his lust for Masha and thought that she might be the one for him cause him to push aside his worries. A mesmerizing tale of a man seduced by a culture he fancies himself above, Miller’s novel is both a nuanced character study and a fascinating look at the complexities of Russian society. --Kristine Huntley

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Customer Reviews

The book builds a picture of modern Russia very well.
Neil
After awhile I wanted to hit him over the head, so I guess the book did affect me yet perhaps not in the way the author intended.
Kare Anderson
The plot is fast-paced and the characters are very believable.
JF

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 103 people found the following review helpful By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on January 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
On the surface, A.D. Miller's fascinating debut novel Snowdrops has all the ingredients of a devastating tale of morality gone awry. Set brilliantly in the heart of Moscow and its environs, the wintry setting provides a background to a world that exists unlike any other. And Miller's strength is that he has an insider's knowledge of this strange, but distasteful, land where bureaucratic corruption, decadence, and petty fraud coexist with beauty, idealism, and cultural promise. Okay, so maybe it's not a world "unlike any other" under those terms--but there's just something so inherently intriguing about the openness of Moscow's decadence that makes it an undeniably appealing "character" in Miller's story. And, in fact, Moscow is the most delineated and complex "character" that Miller has described. The human protagonists, however, are all rather chilly. The book unfolds as a confessional with British lawyer Nick Platt recounting, via writing, his past indiscretions to his unseen new fiance.

Set in the early 2000's, Snowdrops introduces Platt--middle-aged and somewhat isolated in a hedonistic new city. He spends his days officiating vaguely defined business enterprises with fairly unsavory characters. He's just putting in his time, not asking questions, and enjoying (however reluctantly he paints it) the sins that the city's nightlife has to offer. His days start to brighten, however, as he rescues two young ladies from a mugging. They begin a friendship that becomes more intense. Soon Platt finds himself in a full-on romance with one of the girls. And his devotion is seemingly blind to the realities of the relationship. When they solicit his legal expertise in a real estate transaction involving their aunt, Platt acquiesces compliantly.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James L. Thane on December 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A British lawyer, Nicholas Platt, is working in Moscow in the hectic, free-for-all, Wild East days of the new Russia. By day he helps negotiate huge bank loans to facilitate Russia's economic development. These deals involve a number of shady characters and questionable assumptions, but Nick is caught up in the free-wheeling, anything goes climate, and whatever moral scruples he might have brought with him from the UK are quickly eroding. The same is true of his personal life as Nick gets caught up in exotic and often erotic lifestyle that flows from the rivers of cash that are flooding through the city.

One afternoon, Nick saves two attractive sisters from a purse snatcher and he is soon involved romantically with Masha, the older of the two. The women are very mysterious; even Masha reveals little of herself to Nick. But he is too caught up in the intimacy which he believes to be love. Then Masha and her sister, Katya, ask Nick to help their elderly aunt in the sale of her apartment and the purchase of a new one. It quickly becomes apparent to Nick that this deal may not be completely legitimate, but by now he is completely bedazzled by Masha, and his moral compass has long since lost the ability to find True North. He knows he is almost certainly heading for a fall, but like any true noir character, he's long past caring.

This is an excellent debut novel that paints a gripping portrait of the new Russia and the seduction of man who is powerless to resist its allure. It should appeal to those who like their novels dark and their characters flawed and in the grip of an attraction beyond their power to control.
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53 of 65 people found the following review helpful By lisatheratgirl VINE VOICE on December 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a fast read, mainly because you won't want to put it down. The story is told by Nicholas Platt, a lawyer from England, presumably talking to his fiancee. He, like the author, worked in Moscow for a number of years, and so you get a rich description of the city, the restaurants, hotels, casinos, nightclubs, old building facades, subways and parks. The author was able to make me see the city as a whole, not just the picture of the Kremlin you get on posters. He also got across what it was like to live there for the generation that survived WWII and Stalin, and the younger people, under thirty, born after the fall of Communism. There is nothing that is not for sale and everyone has their hands out from beggars to government officials to taxi drivers to judges. In such an atmosphere of crime and corruption, I wondered that Nick would be so gullible as to take everyone at face value. I think anyone who is living and working in a foreign country should be doubly on their guard, because they are outsiders. People may think they know their way around, but they may be more at risk than a tourist or student who leaves in a short time (exception: Natalee Holloway). You can't be too trusting. What starts out as a bland story, but has enough foreshadowing to keep you reading, of course ends in total disaster. It's tightly written with interesting characters (Nick sure found them interesting, until he learned what they really were). For a first novel, I thought it was excellent.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Terry Weyna on October 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A.D. Miller's first novel, Snowdrops, has been shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, one of the British Commonwealth's most prestigious writing awards. It's a fine novel, telling a story that hasn't been told elsewhere: what Moscow looked like, felt like, how it did business and how it was criminal in the days just after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The first person narrator, Nick Platt, is a British lawyer who has lived in Moscow for four years at the time the story starts. The book is his explanation to his fiancée about his time in Russia:

"You're always saying that I never talk about my time in Moscow or about why I left. You're right, I've always made excuses, and soon you'll understand why. But you've gone on asking me, and for some reason lately I keep thinking about it - I can't stop myself. Perhaps it's because we're only three months away from "the big day," and that somehow seems a sort of reckoning. I feel like I need to tell someone about Russia, even if it hurts. Also that probably you should know, since we're going to make these promises to each other, and maybe even keep them. I think you have a right to know all of it. I thought it would be easier if I wrote it down. You won't have to make an effort to put a brave face on things, and I won't have to watch you."

Combined with the appearance of a corpse as the book opens - a "snowdrop," a body hidden by the snow that becomes obvious only in the spring thaw - this is perfect foreshadowing for what follows. The reader cannot read a single page without a sense of foreboding, wondering what happened and when, who the corpse is, what Nick did (is he a murderer?), until one is in the middle of a brutally cold Moscow winter with Nick, almost helplessly acting as an accomplice to a crime or two.
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