Like the best fireside tales, Invitation to a Bonfire draws you completely into its orbit, rendering the surrounding world dark, improbable, and very far away. This is because Adrienne Celt has done a remarkable thing: She has manipulated the facts surrounding the historical Nabokov marriage in service of her own narrative, with such authority that I gobbled up her version with complete credulity and delight. Invitation to a Bonfire is a sensual and intelligent love triangle thriller played out between the characters Lev Orlov, Vera Orlov, and Zoya Andropova; it is also a bold and iconoclastic study of the artistic process, artistic supremacy, and the artist's legacy. It is about women taking authorship over the past and shaping new mythologies to carry us into the future—and I was blown away by Celt's gall.— Morgan
June 2018 Indie Next List
“Adrienne Celt’s Invitation to a Bonfire is a propulsive literary thriller masterfully constructed and written with an extraordinary, raw urgency that will leave readers breathless. Inspired by the marriage of Vladimir and Vera Nabokov, Celt explores the love and ambition of two strong-willed women who compete for the passions and artistic control of a literary icon. The novel’s characters are original and vividly drawn, with all the complexity and contradictions of their emotions and intensions fully realized. This is a story that you will not be able to put down, and certainly one of the most memorable and satisfying reads of the year. Adrienne Celt is a writer to watch.
— Lori Feathers, Interabang Books, Dallas, TX
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 migr Leo Orlo - 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.