'The black earth was already baking and the sun was just rising when they mounted their horses and rode across the grasslands towards the horizon on fire …’
Imprisoned in the Gulags for a crime he did not commit, Benya Golden joins a penal battalion made up of Cossacks and convicts to fight the Nazis.
He enrols in the Russian cavalry, and on a hot summer day in July 1942, he and his band of brothers are sent on a desperate mission behind enemy lines.
Switching between Benya's war in the grasslands of Southern Russia, and Stalin's plans in the Kremlin, between Benya's intense affair with an Italian nurse and a romance between Stalin's daughter and a journalist also on the Eastern Front, this is a sweeping story of passion, bravery and human survival where personal betrayal is a constant companion, and death just a heartbeat away.
Praise for Red Sky at Noon
'The gripping final instalment of the Moscow Trilogy tells of a man wrongly imprisoned in the Gulags and his fight for redemption. Meticulously researched ... In this searing tale of love and war, most moving is the redemptive relationship between a soldier and a nurse that blooms amid the brutality. An homage to the author's favourite Russian writers and the Western masterpieces of Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy and Elmore Leonard, such influences pervade this atmospheric tale told in the author's distinct own voice.' - Observer
'Mythic and murderous violence in Russia…there are power-drunk Nazis and Soviet traitors, including a particularly memorable villain …Written with brio & deep knowledge of its fascinating subject matter… a deeply satisfying pageturner.' - Book of the Month, The Times
'In this third volume of The Moscow Trilogy, the fate of combatants and civilians is often harsh. With his feel for vivid and immediate drama and impressive research, the author evokes the extreme turbulence and violence impacting on individuals. Writing with passion, Montefiore makes the point that, up against the huge forces of war, the struggle for personal resolution can be tragic - but never wasted.' - Daily Mail
'The final instalment of Montefiore's loosely connected Moscow Trilogy: amidst the killing and the chaos, a group of prisoners are offered a chance of redemption on a secret mission behind enemy lines on horseback. Montefiore has a keen sense of place and an eye of unexpected details. Switching between the frontline on the Russian steppes and Stalin in the Kremlin, this is an EXCITING FAST-PACED ADVENTURE AND A LAMENT FOR LOVE IN DARK AND BRUTAL TIMES.' - Mail on Sunday
'I devoured Red Sky at Noon. A heartstopping, heartbreaking, technicolour epic. A grand homage to the Russian masters Babel & Grossman, echoes of Hemingway & Dostoevsky, and a propulsive delight that is entirely Montefiore's own. Gripping storytelling allied with intimate, unsqueamish knowledge of Russian history - a special combination.' - AD Miller, author of Snowdrops
'A GRIPPING tale ... Montefiore is BRILLIANT at depicting the BROODING MENACE ... the [penal battalions] are given increasingly risky missions, it is Benya's journey on horseback that we follow behind enemy lines in the grasslands of southern Russia ... An EPIC tale ... The language is arresting ... It's beautifully done: a WESTERN ON THE EASTERN FRONT.' - Daily Telegraph
'DISPATCHES FROM THE DAYS OF BLOOD AND THUNDER ... There are atrocities on all sides and a smidgen of love as Benya falls for a brave Italian nurse. A subplot follows the ill-starred affair between Stalin's daughter and a Jewish writer. But Benya's struggle to keep his humanity is the memorable spine of the book.' - Best of Summer reading, The Times
'Exhilarated and terrified ... Golden is plunged into a world where violent death could arrive at any moment and any pleasures that present themselves (an unexpected affair with an Italian nurse, for example) must be seized immediately. Sebag Montefiore PAINTS HIS VERBAL PICTURES of the WAR IN BOLD PRIMARY COLOURS ... SHEER ENERGY OF STORYTELLING AND GRAND SWEEP OF NARRATIVE.' - Sunday Times
If your children were forced to testify against you, what terrible secrets would they reveal?
Moscow 1945. As Stalin and his courtiers celebrate victory over Hitler, shots ring out. On a nearby bridge, a teenage boy and girl lie dead.
But this is no ordinary tragedy and these are no ordinary teenagers, but the children of Russia’s most important leaders who attend the most exclusive school in Moscow.
Is it murder? A suicide pact? Or a conspiracy against the state?
Directed by Stalin himself, an investigation begins as children are arrested and forced to testify against their friends - and their parents. This terrifying witch-hunt soon unveils illicit love affairs and family secrets in a hidden world where the smallest mistakes will be punished with death.
Winter, 1916. In St Petersburg, snow is falling in a country on the brink of revolution. Beautiful and headstrong, Sashenka Zeitlin is just sixteen. As her mother parties with Rasputin and her dissolute friends, Sashenka slips into the frozen night to play her role in a dangerous game of conspiracy and seduction.
Twenty years on, Sashenka has a powerful husband and two children. Around her people are disappearing but her own family is safe.But she's about to embark on a forbidden love affair which will have devastating consequences.
Sashenka's story lies hidden for half a century, until a young historian goes deep into Stalin's private archives and uncovers a heart-breaking story of passion and betrayal, savage cruelty and unexpected heroism - and one woman forced to make an unbearable choice ...
Simon Sebag Montefiore is the author of the acclaimed novels of his Moscow Trilogy – Sashenka, Red Sky at Noon and One Night in Winter, which won the Paddy Power Political Novel of the Year Prize and was longlisted for the Orwell Prize: the novels are published in 27 languages. Montefiore is also the author of prize-winning bestselling history books now in 48 languages, including Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, Jerusalem: The Biography and The Romanovs.
For more information see: www.simonsebagmontefiore.com or follow him on Twitter: @simonmontefiore.