Blog Book Tour | “The Lost Season of Love & Snow” by Jennifer Laam

Posted Wednesday, 17 January, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Books By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Lost Season of Love & Snow” direct from the publisher St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I was interested in the premise behind this novel:

Similar to why I wanted to read Who is to Blame?, this novel appealed to me because it is about Russian History. Being a reader of military dramas in my youth, Russia was one of the countries most used as a back-drop (especially in regards to the Jack Ryan series) wherein I developed an appreciation for seeing Russia in fictional settings. There were a few Historical Romances I’ve read over the years which are set in this country as well, but this was the first time, (I can recall) where the story is predominately showcasing Russian History.

Towards that end, I was most appreciative of finding a part of living history etched into the premise of this novel – of how Ms Laam had found a woman to champion – someone who was lost inside her own histories from the prejudices of memory by people who were not willing to understand her as she had lived. This is one of the issues with living histories of person who lived; they are not always fully understood whilst they are alive nor are they honoured lateron with a sense of self by biographers or those who seek to bridge their lives into the world of Historical Fiction. It takes an eye and heart like Ms Laam to see their worth – of hearing their voice and of finding a way to fuse their story into a captivating drama such as The Lost Season of Love and Snow.

The truer gift being given through this novel is having one woman’s life untarnished by supposition and hearsay – to get to the singular truths of her own story without the prejudices injusticed against her person – whilst re-alighting through her own journey towards womanhood, marriage, family and the ache of her own heart whilst she realised the folly of her own actions. This reads like a proper Biography – with the added benefit of listening to Natalya as she tells her own story. Including critical nods towards where living history and her fictionally voiced thoughts co-merge to paint the landscape of her life from the moment she lost Alexander to the moment she first knew she was in love with him.

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Blog Book Tour | “The Lost Season of Love & Snow” by Jennifer LaamThe Lost Season of Love and Snow
by Jennifer Laam
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The unforgettable story of Alexander Pushkin’s beautiful wife, Natalya, a woman much admired at Court, and how she became reviled as the villain of St. Petersburg.

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. With beautiful writing and understanding, Jennifer Laam, and her compelling new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, help Natalya tell her side of the story—the story of her greatest love and her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court.

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Women's Studies

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-1-250-12188-2

Also by this author: Guest Post (Jennifer Laam)

Published by St. Martin's Griffin

on 2nd January, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 352

Published By: St. Martin’s Griffin via St. Martin’s Press (@StMartinsPress)
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group,
which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #HistFic, #HistoricalFiction + #LostSeasonOfLoveAndSnow

About Jennifer Laam

Jennifer Laam

Jennifer Laam is the author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar, The Tsarina’s Legacy, and the forthcoming The Lost Season of Love and Snow, all from St. Martin’s Griffin.

She is represented by Erin Harris at Folio Literary Management. Jennifer has lived in Los Angeles and the suburbs of Detroit, and currently resides in California’s Central Valley. When she is not busy writing or reading, Jennifer spends her time obsessing over cosplay, trying new vegetarian recipes, line dancing, and spoiling cats. She works for her alma mater, University of the Pacific.

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my review of the lost season of love and snow:

The mind and heart can be torturous cousins during sorrow – the plague of man is hindsight, where questions arise from the choices we made in the past where the gravity of those actions take-on new foresight in the present. The memories which seek to destroy us the most are the ones laced with the most remorse, the regrets we cannot undo and the moments lost to time we cannot recover once they disappear. These are the moments encased within the grief of Natalya; a woman whose husband died in an ill-attempt at protecting her honour at a time in their country’s history a man of his worth and esteem was not commonplace. She, would question what she could do after his death to ensure his legacy but it is the events leading into his death she would lay pensive thought over understanding in the years to come.

For how do you reconcile a choice which causes the premature death of your second half? Of the person whose heart beats in-step with your own and of whom, you vowed to walk through life until the bitter end, if such an end came along? You can almost sense the emptiness of Natalya’s resolve – of how she feels less than herself the moment she realises her husband Alexander (Puskin) has already stepped through the threshold of beloved men who are held captured in time for what they gave their generation. His words were his legacy, the ways in which his pen crafted his stories is what Natalya needs to focus on now – of preserving what he left behind and the opinion of the public on his behalf as a beloved son of their own.

You can feel the tentacles of the title within the Prologue, of how the title etches out an awareness of what becomes lost through love and what becomes renewed in snow; of how life continues to move forward even in the darkest hours of our lives. We pause here, at the hour of death long enough to feel the weight on Natayla’s shoulders before re-visiting her past – of understanding what came before, of the paths her life took and how her husband greeted death prematurely. This is a story which rewinds her footsteps if only to find a measure of solace to erase the heartache of the present; to seek empathy and understanding out of a death which feels cautiously less honourable than it was meant to be.

Natayla’s mother seems quite vain as we re-visit how she entered into the world; whilst being a daughter who was more akin to study than to balls – controlled a bit by a mother whose overbearing nature was true of the times, but seemed to be over stipulating herself here. For if her daughter had limited sight, how would she ever hope for her to find a winning match? Sight is generally needed to understand the persons one engages in – unless of course, the person is used to limited sight or has lost their sight altogether. Yet, this isn’t the case of gradual reduction in sight or a complete absence of it – it is merely a young woman who needs the necessity of glasses in order to see everything properly. A mother who bemoans the use of glasses truly takes vanity to a new level of insight!

Being someone who understands how sight is critically important to access our world and how we make our observations (notwithstanding how we process what we’re reading) – I was delighted, charmed truly by Mr Tolstoy for taking Natalya over to the Christmas tree – the sugar creations gave me a jolly good smile as I’ve heard of such ornaments from reading online articles about different Christmas traditions. How an artist can spin anything out of sugar is quite amazing; I still remember my days of watching those challenge shows on Food Network where they built these massive structures out of cake and spun sugar! The delicate structures never failed to leave me in awe!

I love how we are seeing Christmas lit to life during the early 1800s,… as it is a period in history I do like to entreat inside as I’m reading Historicals. Set in Moscow (whilst moving into other areas as well, such as St. Petersburg), this novel gives a firm glimpse into the juxtapositions between Russia and America of the past – how so much of America was not yet settled nor fully explored. You can even believe Tolstoy would be in attendance at a public ball because balls were the gathering centres for everyone to get to know everyone else. It was partially a coming-out party and partially a place where the social status was weighed and measured.

Natayla was groomed to make a smart choice – a marriage which would ensure the security of her sisters and mother; to carry the family out of uncertain futures due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding her father who had fallen to drink. He wasn’t a bad man nor father, but there were events in his life which pre-empted his ability to make conscious decisions regarding his health and the welfare of his family all the same. Whilst mindful of her obligations, you can gather a sense of rebellion surfacing in Natalya, of a girl near womanhood (even at the tender age of sixteen) who was starting to understand her own mind and setting it against the wishes of her mother, whose intentions were not entirely untoward but the were not exactly in the best interests for her daughter either for she was putting herself ahead of her daughter’s happiness. Such was the way back then – of securing fortune over love and for not sacrificing a match for what appeared to be an idle romance.

As we observed Alexander and Natayla together for the first time, there was something about him which I could not quite place, something I would say, I did not quite trust – his personality and behaviour eluded to other truths which Natayla was ignorant of at that moment in time. You feel for her though – caught between duty and the musings of her own heart; of sorting out what was important to her vs trying to do right by her family. It was not a choice to take lightly but I am unsure if she fully understand the repercussions of the choice she would make to change the path her life took afterwards. Truth is not always readily seen when it is needed to be as bright as the North Star.

Aunt Katya is my favourite supporting character in the story – she’s the girls’ Aunt who respects the choices they are facing and the will of their own heart to make the choices of where their futures lie themselves. She’s a woman in her fifties who is kinder in both manner and voice than their mother, who seems to have hardened due to the absence of her husband. It could not have been easy dealing with an absentee father and realising your husband could no longer pull his weight to support the family. Herein, Aunt Katya filled a void – she was the steady voice of reason, the encourager of support and the woman who better understood the hearts of her nieces than her own sister.

Of the three sisters, it was Azya I could relate too as much as Natayla, as she felt like the protective sister whereas the third sister Ekaterina was soured on how much affection Natayla received. She was not one to mince words, no, Ekaterina took pleasure in sharing spite directed towards Natayla whenever she could whilst trying to lay sabotage to her sister’s attempts at freedom from the family itself. You would have hoped the sisters would have been each others’ best ally, for sorting out this part of their lives and for seeing this as a chance at independence away from their overseeing Mum but instead they were at odds with one another – fighting and being critical of each other in a way which was not sisterly at all.

As you watch Natayla rise in her affections for Alexander, there is a part of me wondering what she is not yet ready to understand about him; as if he was holding something back from her he was not yet ready to reveal. It was curious how he took long absences away from her – of needing to have his distance yet insisted he remained devouted to her and only had affections for her without the need for others in his life. He was a reserved man but also, one who liked to charm those in his company – he was nearly all show and game; to get him to share a portion of himself in confidence seemed to take quite a heap of patience.

Seeing Natayla become a Mum to her children whilst attempting to influence the fates of her sisters, you start to see how fragile her life was becoming. There were criticisms in her marriage she did not deserve from Alexander; accusations which would not be cast on him but which were presumed to be true of her all the same. It was a classic thread of the inequality of women and how men were viewed in a different light than their opposite gender. To that end, men could do no wrong before or after marriage but if a woman tried to look respectably intelligent, if she drew too much attention towards herself – somehow she was sinfully cheating against her vows. The seriousness of the folly here is I presumed Alexander wasn’t as faithful as Natayla in regards to their marriage – yet, here he was on multiple occasions insinuating things about his wife I felt were ill-placed and stated.

The hard part to resolve as your reading her story, is being the observer in this novel. Of realising certain events unfolded just as they are being revealled; without any hope of an altered course or a difference of opinion to be stated after a period of remorse. It is as it were so to speak – of how fates can be dictated by those we endear ourselves too and the choices which at times do not seem heavy-leaden with a burden could become the moments where regret is spun out of the haste it took to speak what we wish was left unsaid.

On the historical writing styling of ms laam:

There are so many keen moments of beautiful prose in this narrative – of observations on ordinary objects, to the traditions of holidays and the little touches of rooting us within the time-line of History, as Natayla steps further into the foreground of the story. The people she is interacting with are as viable as anything else being described because of the nature of how close certain circles were kept and maintained. It was fitting to find her in such company because her movements in social circles was evidence enough she would cross certain people’s path at some point or another. What lends such a gasp of awe for us who are reading about her for the first time is how her path started to intersect with so many well-known figures of her generation. A bit like the Fitzgeralds in the 1920s who curbed the market for knowing all the latest persons in literature, art, music and the creative arts.

It was not long for me to feel lost inside the world Ms Laam created within the pages of The Lost Season of Love and Snow; for this was a coming-of-age story which created it’s own niche out of what is known and unknown within the fables of history. As we dig further into the life of Natalya, we find a girl who is maturing into her own skin, of sorting out her emotions and of finding she does not fully ascribe to her mother’s sensible beliefs about marriage and life. Within these pages, you get to tuck close to her, watching her as she moves through the hours and attempts to forestall the influence of her sisters and brothers whilst owning to the fact, without being married she is still under her mother’s rules. This is partially what captured my attention most – as in so many ways this story reminded me why I love Little Women.

Ms Laam takes you through the innocence of Natayla’s youth whilst owning to the youthfulness of her heart – you do not forsake the journey you take to better understand what motivated Natayla’s choices but also, having seen her family first-hand from the age she was at the time her heart grew to love Alexander, you can empathise why she trusted her heart’s desire when she married him. For her, marriage was not just a choice of her heart but an act she could choose if only to endeavour a life outside the grasp of her mother’s influence. She felt oppressed by her family’s control – of the weight of their judgement cast against her and of their unwillingness to accept her as she was – with spectacles on her nose and intelligent in her own right.

Winter plays an important role in this novel – it is both metaphor and harbinger, calming presence and a shadow of foresight into Natayla’s life. As you observe, the closer we move towards the present where Alexander has fallen to his injuries, the more important it is to observe how Winter’s presence has crossed the bridge between their living years and the moment in which they are cast apart through death.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The Lost Season of Love and Snow blog tour via HFVBTsHallo, Hallo blog tour readers and visitors following ‘The Lost Season of Love & Snow” blog tour! I was hoping my readings of the novel would not run delayed; however, similar to why I was delayed with “The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen” last week, I have fallen a bit behind in my readings this week as well.
I’ve simply not been able to resume my readings as easily as I had foreplanned as I’m still recovering my energies from the virus I’ve been overcoming since the week of New Year’s. Therefore, my review is posting Wednesday instead of Tuesday this week. Please accept my apologies and I look forward to visiting with you soon. I had planned a guest feature for this blog tour, however, it has been postponed until later in the month, stay tuned for more information.  I am thankful to share my thoughts about the novel – my first by this author.
Ahead of time, it is being featured during my #TopTenTuesday post this week as it was quite literally one of my eagerly awaited stories to be read this New Year, 2018.
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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Lost Season of Love and Snow”, book synopsis, author photo & biography of Jennifer Laam and the tour badge were all provided by HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, 2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 17 January, 2018 by jorielov in 19th Century, Alexander Pushkin, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Coming-Of Age, Creative Arts, Family Drama, Family Life, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, History, Inspired By Author OR Book, Life Shift, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Passionate Researcher, Russia, Russian History, Second Chance Love, Siblings, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Women's Fiction, Women's Rights, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, Writer, Writing Style & Voice

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2 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “The Lost Season of Love & Snow” by Jennifer Laam

    • Thanks Ms Bruno!

      I truly enjoyed digging into the layers of this story and was thankful a bit after the tour itself, I was able to offer an insightful Guest Post about how Ms Laam dug into the heart of why Natalya still has a lot to share with women in our contemporary world. These kinds of stories get us thinking about how stories out of History are cross-relating to our current events today which in-part is why oft-times History becomes cyclic as yesterday’s struggles are still being faced today. I appreciate being included on the tour!

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