REVIEW: Invitation to a Bonfire, Adrienne Celt

Thursday, 3 January 2019


Zoya Andropova, a young Russian refugee, finds herself in an elite New Jersey boarding school. Having lost her family, her home and her sense of purpose, Zoya struggles to belong, a task made more difficult by her new country's paranoia about Soviet spies. When she meets charismatic fellow Russian émigré Leo Orlov Рwhose books Zoya has obsessed over for years Рeverything seems to change. But she soon discovers that Leo is bound by the sinister orchestrations of his brilliant wife, Vera, and that their relationship is far more complex than Zoya could ever have imagined.


In what way was this based on the Nabokov marriage?
I mean, apart from the title and the fact that the love interest was an author and his wife was supposedly, a little domineering, I can see no link here. And frankly, it being falsely marketed as such, made me like it less than I probably would have if nobody had mentioned the supposed connection.
Instead, Invitation to the Bonfire was a slow-moving (seriously, if it had been going any slower it would have been going backwards) coming-of-age tale about a young Russian girl growing up in a boarding school in the United States. The love interest isn’t even introduced until, at least, fifty percent into the book and by then, any chance of their love ’stirring my loins’ or whatever, was lost to a monotonous sense of boredom that was only alleviated by this book’s better-than-expected ending.
Or, maybe the ending was better than expected because nothing else happened in the other two-hundred pages of the novel?
Evidence, unfortunately, points to the former.
I suppose my bitterness and pessimism comes from the fact that I really wanted to love this one. I am a humongous fan of historical fiction and the writing of this one was bloody amazing, which meant that, at the start, it should have been placed on a trajectory to become one of my most-loved books of the year; it should have been a tension-fuelled, sensual tale of the ages. But instead, Adrienne Celt spent too much time focussing on meaningless, innocuous things and too little on the things that actually mattered.
Otherwise known as the love affair that was supposed to harken back to the Nabokov marriage.


Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Head on over to http://bit.ly/2y7JSWV for this book, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.

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