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An entrancing portrait of love in exile, with a literary twist.

‘Without quite realising that I would do it until it happened, I raised myself on my toes and kissed his frozen cheek. In Paris, it would have been an unremarkable gesture. In Alexandria, an invitation. I still had no idea about London.'

The London winter of 1947. As cold as St Petersburg during the Revolution. The Karenins keep their vodka under the layers of snow in their suburban garden, in bottles entombed like their Russian past. But when a young Frenchwoman arrives to work as a companion to the aged 'Monsieur Ka' he begins to tell his story...

Albertine is the wife of a British army officer who is often abroad on covert government business. Lonely, yet eager to work, she begins to write Monsieur Ka’s life story a as a secret gift to him, and even learns his mother tongue. To her ear it is like 'the sound of falling snow'. As she is drawn into Ka’s dramatic past, her own life is shaken to its foundations. For in this family of former princes, there are present temptations which could profoundly affect her future.


A beautiful haunting novel… looking at a familiar London through a frosty, snowy lens. Wonderful

Caryl Phillips

It often takes an emigre to describe a country most clearly, and Goldsworthy, who was born in Belgrade but has lived in London for 30 years, is proving a most accomplished poet of her adopted city ... A delight

Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

Goldsworthy is an elegant writer, skilful at building atmosphere. Her fiction-within-fiction device is clever and intriguing ... the novel could hardly seem more of the moment

Rose Wild, The Times

A wonderful novel, entirely original, and entirely absorbing… The atmosphere she creates is exceptional

Carmen Callil

Mournful and evocative… It makes for compelling reading.

Book Oxygen, Elsbeth Lindner

In this subtle, intelligent novel, Albertine's narration of events in 1947, as her own story begins to carry reminders of Tolstoy's, proves poignant and effective

Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times

In all three of her books, Goldsworthy has displayed a gift for creating atmosphere ... One of Goldsworthy’s strengths is the sensitivity with which she portrays the many marriages in the book ... Much of the pleasure of reading this remarkable novel comes from its passionate dedication to the power of stories.

Lara Feigel, The Guardian

Goldsworthy enjoys playing with the classics, and she's good at it

Ysenda Maxtone Graham, The Oldie

Evocative and affecting

Rabeea Saleem, BookRiot

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    February 12, 2018

    Chatto & Windus

    RRP $32.99

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Also by Vesna Goldsworthy



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The Handmaid's Tale
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The Tea Gardens
A Gentleman in Moscow
Echo Burning
The Girl on the Train
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Life After Life
The Golden House
Memoirs Of A Geisha
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Ready Player One
The Trip of a Lifetime
The Light Between Oceans