Winter Fire

William R. Trotter, Author Dutton Books $22 (496p) ISBN 978-0-525-93581-0
Historian Trotter ( A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939 - 40 ) ably draws on his area of expertise for his first novel, although his narrative occasionally strikes melodramatic chords. Rising conductor Erich Ziegler is drafted into the Wehrmacht and sent to the Arctic in June 1941. Surviving the grueling winter, he becomes a roving liaison (read: spy) in Finland and a friend and protege of the great composer Jean Sibelius. In Sibelius's woodland hideaway, Erich falls under the spells of the northern forest and of Kylliki, a beautiful young kitchen servant. Wounded in further action, Erich recuperates at the Sibelius estate, where he wins more than Kylliki's hand, conducts the Fourth Symphony for the master's 79th birthday and hears the composer's piano version of the long-sought Eighth Symphony. Convinced he possesses tickets to postwar success and bliss (the debut of the Eighth and Kylliki), Erich is shattered when both composer and woman deny him. Although he clearly limns the twists of Finnish wartime policy--from belligerence with Germany to alliance with Russia--and the horrors at the Finnish and Eastern fronts, Trotter mars his debut with an overly contrived ending. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1993
Release date: 02/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-451-17718-6
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-7867-1257-1
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