Selected by Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Parade, Oprah.com, and MSN.com as one of the best books to read this summer!
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 struggles to belong, a task made more difficult by the malice her peers heap on scholarship students and her new country's paranoia about Russian spies. When she meets the visiting writer and fellow Russian émigré Leo Orlov--whose books Zoya has privately obsessed over for years--her luck seems to have taken a turn for the better. But she soon discovers that Leo is not the solution to her loneliness: he's committed to his art and bound by the sinister orchestrations of his brilliant wife, Vera.
As the reader unravels the mystery of Zoya, Lev, and Vera's fate, Zoya is faced with mounting pressure to figure out who she is and what kind of life she wants to build. Grappling with class distinctions, national allegiance, and ethical fidelity--not to mention the powerful magnetism of sex--Invitation to a Bonfire investigates how one's identity is formed, irrevocably, through a series of momentary decisions, including how to survive, who to love, and whether to pay the complicated price of happiness.
Celt's disquieting second novel (following The Daughters) is set in an America distrustful of the newly formed U.S.S.R. Unfolding via an assortment of unreliable documents, it is the story of Zoya Andropova, a young Soviet refugee orphaned under grim circumstances in the late 1920s, who is placed on a transport ship full of children bound for America and given a scholarship to a private girls' school in New Jersey. In spite of mental and physical abuse by her snobbish classmates, Zoya graduates and takes a job in the school's greenhouse. She begins a torrid affair with a fellow Russian migr , the well-known writer Lev Orlov, who has come with his wife, Vera, to teach at the school. In this dangerous trio, Orlov and Vera resemble the Nabokovs. Here, Vera exerts a powerful and erotic sway over Orlov, and later Zoya, as well. When Orlov embarks on a futile trip to Russia to recover a lost manuscript, both he and Vera ask Zoya to commit unconscionable acts in the name of love. Though the ending is implausible, it's nonetheless cleverly twisted. This is an incendiary and provocative novel about obsession.