This book was shortlisted for the Pushkin House Book Prize 2018
One fateful day in 1934, a husband arranged to meet his wife under the colonnade of the Bolshoi theatre. As she waited for him in vain, he was only a few hundred metres away, in a cell in the notorious Lubyanka prison.
Less than a year before, Alexey Wangenheim – a celebrated meteorologist – had been hailed by Stalin as a national hero. But following his sudden arrest, he was exiled to a gulag, forced to spend his remaining years on an island in the frozen north, along with thousands of other political prisoners.
By chance, Olivier Rolin discovered an album of the letters and beautiful drawings of the natural world which Alexey sent home to his wife, Varvara, and his four-year-old daughter, Eleonora. Intrigued by these images, Rolin became determined to uncover Alexey’s story and his eventual horrifying fate.