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One Night in Winter


If your children were forced to testify against you, what terrible secrets would they reveal?

Moscow 1945. As Stalin and his courtiers celebrate victory over Hitler, shots ring out. On a nearby bridge, a teenage boy and girl lie dead.

But this is no ordinary tragedy and these are no ordinary teenagers, but the children of Russia’s most important leaders who attend the most exclusive school in Moscow.

Is it murder? A suicide pact? Or a conspiracy against the state?

Directed by Stalin himself, an investigation begins as children are arrested and forced to testify against their friends – and their parents. This terrifying witch-hunt soon unveils illicit love affairs and family secrets in a hidden world where the smallest mistakes will be punished with death.


‘There were several 1st class novels of historical intrigue in 2014 but this finely written chronicle of privileged adults and children afraid for their lives in the treacherous upper reaches of Stalin’s Russia in 1945 is in a league of its own.’ Best Books of 2014, WALL STREET JOURNAL

‘As Stalin twists the Children’s Case to his own ends, the truly magnetic power of One Night in Winter becomes clear. The stirring of our deepest fears and their unexpected resolution—at this, Montefiore is the master.’ WASHINGTON POST

‘Enthralling…. Mr. Montefiore, an English writer hailed for his works of history and biography, is masterly at sketching scenes whether passionate, melancholy or menacing, and limning characters…’ WALL STREET JOURNAL

‘A novel full of passion conspiracy hope despair suffering and redemption transcends the boundaries of genre, being at once thriller and political drama, horror and romance. His ability to paint the tyrannical Stalin in such a way to make the reader quake with fear is matched by his talent for creating truly heartbreaking characters… ONE NIGHT IN WINTER is a gripping read and must surely be one of the best novels of the year.’ NY JOURNAL OF BOOKS

‘A novel of passion, fear, bravery, suffering and survival… Surprisingly it’s a novel mostly about love. The state security investigation into the teenagers’ deaths, which soon embroils families, teachers and acquaintances, is predictably terrifying — but the novel’s romantic soul tempers the terror and makes for a gripping read… Its success is helped by Montefiore’s pitch-perfect reconstruction of the golden tightrope that Moscow’s elite walked under Stalin. The splendour and security the privileged few live in is illusory, the Gulag is only one false step away…. Montefiore’s characters allow us to view the strange and frightening world in which its story takes place with an immediacy that non-fiction often struggles to match.’ SPECTATOR

‘A gripping thriller about private life and poetic dreams in Stalin’s Russia… A gripping pageturner… Whether its subject is power or love, a darkly enjoyable read.’ GUARDIAN

‘Enthralling. Montefiore writes brilliantly about Love – from teenage romance to the grand passion of adultery. Readers of Sebastian Faulks + Hilary Mantel will lap this up. A historical novel that builds into a nail-biting drama … a world that resembles… Edith Wharton with the death penalty.’ Novel of the Week, MAIL ON SUNDAY

‘This tightly-written page-turner crackles with authenticity and if you are wiping away a tear by the end it won’t be the thanks to the chill of Soviet winter. Love and death swirl at the heart of ONE NIGHT IN WINTER. A terrific storyteller.’ DAILY EXPRESS

‘A thrilling work of fiction. Montefiore weaves a tight, satisfying plot, delivering surprises to the last page. Stalin’s chilling charisma is brilliantly realised. The novel’s theme is Love: family love, youthful romance, adulterous passion. ONE NIGHT IN WINTER is full of redemptive love and inner freedom.’ EVENING STANDARD

‘The novel is hugely romantic. His ease with the setting and historical characters is masterly. The book maintains a tense pace. Uniquely terrifying. Heartrending. Engrossing.’ THE SCOTSMAN

‘Delicately plotted and buried within a layered, elliptical narrative, ONE NIGHT IN WINTER is also a fidgety page-turner which adroitly weaves a huge cast of characters into an arcane world.’ TIME OUT

‘A mix of love story, thriller and historical fiction. Engrossing. Montefiore’s knowledge of the period helps him bring 1945 Moscow to bleak, fascinating life. He reanimates historical figures to unsettling effect, from Stalin himself to his dissolute son Vasily, and Beria. But ONE NIGHT IN WINTER is more than a recreation of history: by turns engrossing and upsetting, Montefiore makes his cast of children both hopelessly romantic and hopelessly moving.’ THE OBSERVER

‘Gripping and cleverly plotted. Doomed love at the heart of a violent society is the heart of Montefiore’s ONE NIGHT IN WINTER… depicting the Kafkaesque labyrinth into which the victims stumble.’ THE SUNDAY TIMES

‘Compulsively involving. Our fear for the children keeps up turning the pages… We follow the passions with sympathy… The knot of events tugs at a wide range of emotions rarely experienced outside an intimate tyranny.’ THE TIMES

‘A novel full of passion, conspiracy, hope, despair, suffering and redemption, it transcends boundaries of genre, being at once thriller and political drama, horror and romance. His ability to paint Stalin in such a way to make the reader quake with fire is matched by talent for creating truly heartbreaking characters: the children who find themselves at the centre of a conspiracy, the parents…. A gripping read and must surely be one of the best novels of 2013.’ NY JOURNAL OF BOOKS

‘Not just a thumpingly good read, but also essentially a story of human fragility and passions, albeit taking place under the intimidating shadow of a massive Stalinist portico.’ THE NATIONAL

‘Sebag’s new novel draws in the reader and renders time meaningless. Brilliantly depicted.’ JEWISH CHRONICLE

‘Seriously good fun… the Soviet march on Berlin, nightmarish drinking games at Stalin’s countryhouse, the magnificence of the Bolshoi, interrogations, snow, sex and exile… lust adultery and romance. Eminently readable and strangely affecting.’ SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

One Night in Winter