The Lost Season of Love and Snow is about Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s wife Natalya. I loved this book and recommend it to fans of Russian history, controversial female figures, and historical dramas. While it is heavily character driven, the book kept me riveted. I can see this appealing to fans of books such as The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence and My Dear Hamilton.
Alexander Pushkin is Russia’s most famous poet. When he dies from wounds inflicted in a duel meant to protect his wife’s honor, Natalya is blamed for his death. The story explores Natalya’s story from how she met Alexander, their dramatic marriage, and his death and the events leading to it. While there is tragedy to this book, the romance helps keep the book from becoming too dark and gloomy and while avoiding spoilers, the ending let’s you walk away on a positive note.
Natalya is a complex character and I enjoyed the author’s take on her. At times it was easy to sympathize with her, but she makes her own poor choices that breathe life into her instead of making her come off as an unrealistic innocent victim. And while Alexander is a jealous man, he is easy enough to understand to make his death tragic. Natalya is also constrained by the opportunities afforded to her in her day and doesn’t come off as too modern. I enjoyed the exploration of woman longing for more, but unable to have what she desires as well as the threats women of court faced regards to being chased after my men they have no interest in.
I knew nothing of Alexander or Natalya before this book, so reading was a great learning experience for me. I was so intrigued by the characters and events I found myself researching them once I finished. This book might be a slow read for those who need a fast-paced plot, but for those who enjoy strong characters considering picking this book up.
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.