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Invitation to a Bonfire
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Invitation to a Bonfire

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  196 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
The seductive story of a dangerous love triangle, inspired by the infamous Nabokov marriage, with a spellbinding psychological thriller at its core.

In the 1920s, Zoya Andropova, a young refugee from the Soviet Union, finds herself in the alien landscape of an elite all-girls New Jersey boarding school. Having lost her family, her home, and her sense of purpose, Zoya strugg
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Bloomsbury USA
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Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
WOW!!!.....I got to the last page and just said, “WOW”! Immediately I’m thinking of so many people this book is perfect for -- released in June 2018!

NO SPOILERS..... just a little long...because I LOVE THIS BOOK....A FAVORITE!!! - I STAYED AWAY FROM ALL JUICY SPOILERS- even ‘hints’ of any.....I promise!! None in this review.

Author Adrienne Celt is now a new ‘favorite’ author. Her writing-artistry is brilliant....on-the-edge-exciting....( I was so in ‘awe’ of her sentences- the way they created
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader & Traveling Sister
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader & Traveling Sister by: Elyse
4 seductive stars To Invitation to a Bonfire! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This book was highly recommended by my friend, Elyse! Thanks for another intriguing read!

Zoya Andropova is a refugee of the Soviet Union who has enrolled in an all-girls boarding school in New Jersey. It’s the 1920s, and she has lost everything, including her family. Zoya’s journey is relatable in that she wants nothing more than to fit in like any teenager, but being a Soviet refugee during this time of extreme paranoia to outsiders proves
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
There is a death. We know know this at the beginning of this literary novel told in the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper articles from 1931 but the death and its mystery are not the most important parts of this tale. Zoya, a Russian immigrant and orphan, lands at a prestigious girls’ boarding school completely alone. In her diary, she describes this specific time in her life and the events that occur shortly thereafter.

I couldn’t help but consider Erickson’s stages of psychosocial de
*4.5 stars rounded up.

"'It's like I sensed you,' he whispered. "Not just here, but everywhere. Like everyone I've ever loved was leading up to this, to you, to us.'"

How could a virtually friendless young woman, alone in the world, not fall for an older man, a famous Russian novelist whose books she adored, when he breathed those enchanting words in her ear?

Zoya Andropova is one of several orphaned Soviet children who is secreted in a passenger ship and brought to America in 1925. There she is o
So... I really wanted to like this one. I'm not a big historical fiction fan... but I love psychological thrillers. I'm wanting to branch out and try different genres. Unfortunately, I felt this didn't deliver in either genre.

It was a tad bit TOO much history for me.... and I just couldn't get past this.

I could not get into this book at all. I found myself picking it up multiple times and when I finally looked... I was only at like 20 percent :(.

This is a very SLOWW burn type of book. I have d
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Adrienne Celt’s INVITATION TO A BONFIRE tells the story of a great novelist, his wife and his mistress and was partly inspired by the famous Nabokov marriage. The story swept me up and kept me guessing, and I can heartily recommend it to all types of readers, whether you are a fan of Nabokov or his biggest critic. For those who love thrillers, this is a murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the last page. For those who love literary fiction, Celt captures Nabokov’s letters and writ ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
via my blog:
“My aim, anyway, is not posterity, but instead to take a sharp, bright pin and use it to bore a hole- one might say a pinprick- in the swollen history that rests on my shoulders. If I don’t let out some of that air, I think I will go mad, or at the very least confess to someone unwise.”

Zoya Andropova is an orphaned refugee from the Soviet Union, 1920s. She is placed in an ‘elite’ all girls boarding school in New Jersey, smack dab in the middle o
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
At fifteen, Zoya Andropov was sent to an orphanage where she cross-stitched portraits of Party members, her stomach growling from hunger. Her parents, who were on "the right side" of the Russian revolution, had died soon after "the new and glorious union of our country," like everyone else she knew.

Then in 1928, she was one of 200 USSR orphans chosen to be sent to America, ending up at the small, elite, Donne School.

Impoverished and alien, she is bullied and manipulated by the rich American gi
Kasa Cotugno
Although this book falls into a category I normally despise, that of the fictionalized biography however loose the interpretation, I chose it specifically because of its root material -- the ever intriguing marriage of Vladimir and Véra Nobokov. Knowing Nabokov’s predilection for chess problems that he shared with his wife, the reader is hard put to tell who is the pawn, who, the king/queen. The queen, the most powerful piece of the puzzle, goes anywhere she pleases, but it is the king with the ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fun & sexy & mysterious & MURDER
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really, really wanted to like this book. The synopsis sounded great, so I figured I'd enjoy it. Unfortunately, I just could NOT get into it. I've spent the last three days trying to read this book. I thought for SURE I must be almost half-way through it, but when I looked and saw I was only 12% of the way through, I decided it was time to move on.

I'm giving this two stars and not one because, while I couldn't get into the story, the writing is excellent. Strange, I know, so say the writing of
Review to come
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one intrigued me from the get go. It had entirely too many elements I’m interested in (historical fiction, immigration, author, books, current and old manuscripts) to ignore. I’m actually quite surprise I didn’t end up loving this one, this is more of a strong like and appreciation situation. And it took me until 90% to put a finger on why and here it is, the main protagonist confused me. We see the entire story mostly from her perspective (the novel has an epistolary structure and Zoya’s j ...more
Megan Bell
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This one comes out of nowhere and gets under your skin. Zoya Andropova comes over from Russia as a young orphan, dropped into an all-girls boarding school in 1920s New Jersey. Zoya is alienated and alone when her favorite Russian novelist arrives with his beautiful, aristocratic, calculating wife. What results is a quiet, burning meditation on deception, identity, class distinction, nationality, loyalty, & art, that rages into a holy conflagration and will leave you with a kind of delicious ...more
Rhonda Lomazow
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Adrienne Celt writes beautifully lyrically her first novel The Daughters drew me in swept me away .Invitation to a Bonfire had the same effect,A psychological thriller a love triangle based on the Nabokov marriage & Zoya the young mysterious refugee from the Soviet Union .Will be recommending to my friends who love good literature with the haunting feel of mystery,Thanks#netgalley # Bloomsbury for advance Galley,
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great read! Loosely based on the troubled Nabokov marriage, it was a thrilling tale of mystery and suspense with a little bit of single white female thrown in for good measure. Adrienne Celt expertly weaves a story that made it hard for me to put this down. She even manages to make this feel like a Russian novel. I for one loved it. Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC for review.
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
The revolution and following turmoil made an orphan of Zoya Andropova. Therefore, she like so many other kids comes to the USA as an orphan and is welcomed in a New Jersey boarding school. She never belongs even though she quickly acquires the language and gets good marks. After her schooling, she can stay on the premises and work in the newly built greenhouse where she fully immerses in her work with the plants. Neither does she have friends, nor a lover. It is just her work and the love for li ...more
Kathleen Gray
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yowsa. Based on the trouble (to say the least) Nabakov marriage and written loosely in his style, this packs a lot into a fairly slim volume. Arguably it's historical fiction- and in a very narrow niche- but it's also a psychological study of three people who really should have been separated from one another for their own mental health. Zoya is bitterly lonely and adrift in the US- perfect prey for Leo and a toy to be batted about for Vera. A love triangle but only one person loves. This is a q ...more
Mar 14, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5 *

Like so many other reviewers, I wanted to like this novel but found that I really didn't. For me it was that it lacked a cohesive sense of time and place. It's supposed to take place in the 1920s, but the clothes, hair, technology, traditions seem to belong in the 1950s. Zoya's memories of Russia seem believable, but what was this rescue organization that brought Russian children to the US, dumped them in expensive boarding schools and never checked on them? So much of "Invitation to a Bonf
nikkia neil
Thanks Bloomsbury USA and netgalley for this ARC.

This book will keep you reading all night long. You wont know which way is up and down at the end but you'll be satisfied.

Theresa Smith Writes
“My mother told me to take cues from my betters. Learn their habits, and track them like deer in a live wood. Keep watch of their movements, and, if it helps, imagine you’ve tied a line of bright yarn to one ankle to make their path clear.”

There’s a very definite Talented Mr. Ripley feel to this novel, and while I will acknowledge it was clever in its execution, for me, it didn’t quite reach the suspense and sophistication of this great predecessor.

The novel itself is told in the form of a journ
Jun 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
I was really expecting to like this book as a fan of historical fiction. But it fell flat. I’m okay with suspending some belief to accommodate fiction but here are the things I couldn’t get past:

1. It doesn’t have a 1920s feel about it. I expected to be transported to that time period. But the author talks about pink back packs and teachers giving gold stars to students that doesn’t resound as a 1920s thing.

2. The main character, as an orphan, is smuggled out of Russia to America and ends up in
DNF. I tried to push through to get to the passionate love triangle, which sounded very interesting to me, but I got so bored during the childhood/school parts that I lost interest.

*I received a free pre-release copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Short Summary: The tepid tale of a love triangle gone wrong (although do any of them ever go right?) that was inspired by Vladimir and Vera Nabokov's marriage.

Thoughts: The summary makes it easy to go into this novel with certain expectations (seductive story, spellbinding psychological thriller) but this story is, possibly because it was written as a series of letters, comes off as extremely apathetic and lethargic.

Verdict: Unfortunately, this tale failed to seduce or spellbind me and consideri
Aida Alberto
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an adavanced review copy of this book from NetGalley and all opinions are my own. Wow what a wonderful and well told story. This story is going to appeal to a large amount of different people and it's definitely one that you need to pick up now. Looking forward to reading more from this author. You're going to love everything about this book from the wonderful writing to the three dimensional characters. Don't pass this one up. Happy reading! #InvitationToABonfire #NetGalley
The edition I read isn't here. Anyway, as a fan of Vladimir Nabokov, I had to read this literary thriller, which was inspired by his life and marriage. It follows the life of Zoya, a young Russian, in the 1920s and 1930s. Daughter of communist parents who are destroyed by Stalin’s regime, Zoya ends up in an orphanage, before she’s smuggled to America on an ‘orphan ship’. She begins her new life at the Donne School for girls in New Jersey, but she’s ostracised and bullied by the other students, p ...more
Celt has fashioned a tricky teaser of a story in this novel framed around the age old theme of a love triangle. Zoya leaves the Soviet Union of the 1920s as an orphan who lands a scholarship at an exclusive girls' boarding school in New Jersey where her classmates make it clear to her that class distinction is all too real in America. Zoya finds solace in a post graduate job at the school as a horticulturalist, but her world is turned upside down when her literary hero, Lev Orlov, becomes a teac ...more
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have a special place in my heart for characters who are lonely enough to be duped by people who pretend to love them. I always end up reading the book with my heart in my mouth, wanting to reach into the book to warn the lonely character. Reading Invitation to a Bonfire, by Adrienne Celt, was no different—at least until the end, when the tables turned more than once. The beginning of the novel led me to think that it would be the story of people teasing and tricky a girl who just can’t blend i ...more
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5/5-- Invitation to a Bonfire is a solid book, but it's wishy washy in terms of where it fits in any sort of literary catalogue. It's nearly literary fiction, but not quite so heady. So then is it mystery fiction? Not quite that, either. It falls kind of in a no-man's-land between the two. And it's nearly historical fiction, but doesn't quite feel grounded in a specific life enough (it claims to be about Nabokov, but I didn't feel enough pull or specificity there to say "yes, this is him"). Mo ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was a sloooow burn kind of suspense so it was hard for me to get into it. However the writing was beautiful and poetic. It wasn't exactly thrilling but extremely mysterious and at times ambiguous. I enjoyed it enough but not really my cup of tea.

I received an ARC for this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Adrienne Celt is a writer, cartoonist, and avid reader living in Tucson, AZ. Her debut novel THE DAUGHTERS won the 2015 PEN Southwest Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2016 Crawford Award. Her second novel, INVITATION TO A BONFIRE will be published in June 2018.

Winner of a 2016 O. Henry Prize, her short fiction and essays have appeared in Esquire, The Kenyon Review, Epoch, Zyzzyva, Ecotone, T
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