The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
All the stars everywhere for this book. I need to read more of this story!!
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons is one of those books that I was putting off. I admit it – it was because of the size/length. At 800+ pages I kept thinking it would take me forever to get through it despite the fact that I had a number of people tell me I would love it. Don’t let this scare you off and I hate that it took me so long to get into this book because I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!
The story revolves around Tatiana Metanova and Alexander Belov who meet the day the Germans attack the Soviet Union during World War II. It not only follows their relationship and the hardships they face on that front but also includes the impact war has on them and the people they know. Some of the most painful parts of the book were just reading about the way Leningrad and its people were cut off from everything. Reading about the starvation and how difficult it was just to find ways to stay alive made me wonder if I would even have the strength to survive.
There is so much that happens in this story. In the first chapter, we find out that Tatiana lives in a communal apartment building and shares two rooms with her mother, father, sister, brother, and grandparents. It isn’t ideal but they get along. Having been sent out by her father to get food for the day, Tatiana finds that she can’t get what she needs and that is when she decides to get an ice cream and sit on a bench to figure out what she is going to do. As she is sitting on that bench she notices a soldier across the street – Alexander – and the rest of their story begins here. They absolutely face some tough times, not only because of the war, but because of the situation they find themselves in. I know that sounds vague but I don’t want to give anything away and shortly after they meet, you will find out exactly what I am talking about.
I really like Tatiana as a character and she goes through such a change from the first page of the book all the way to the last page. She is smart and she cares about everyone. She is also so selfless …sometimes to a fault. She would absolutely give up her last bit of food if it meant that someone else was suffering less than her. Being the youngest child/daughter, she believes that everyone else should come first even if it means she would go without. This includes her sister, Dasha.
Tatiana would give up everything she wanted or needed just to make her older sister happy and I think that is one of the reasons I didn’t really care for Dasha so much. There were times that Dasha would reach out and try to connect with Tatiana but I found myself thinking that the only reason was so that she could talk about herself or what she wanted. There was a scene when they were all really hungry and Alexander brought them some of his rations that made me angry for Tatiana and I was glad Alexander was willing to jump in.
Alexander….he isn’t perfect but he is still one of my favorite characters ever. He loves Tatiana and defers to her on what she wants to do about it. Unfortunately that means he has to hide his feelings and he truly does his best. I can’t say I agree with how it happens but I understand the reasoning behind it…again, don’t agree but when you read why, you will know what I mean. Despite this, he does everything in his power to help Tatiana survive and support her family. Whether it is walking her to the market to get her families rations or standing up to her family when they hit her, he doesn’t want anything to happen to her.
Alexander has some secrets of his own and through his relationship with Tatiana, we find out what they are fairly quickly. Outside of Tatiana, there is one other person who knows who he truly is and he continually threatens to expose Alexander. As the story progresses, both Tatiana and Alexander try to figure a way out of the situation.
Dimitri is the “friend” that knows Alexander’s secrets. He is essentially blackmailing Alexander to get him away from the dangers of war. Just know that I hope Dimitri burns in the fiery pits of hell someday – he is that creepy and evil. He is selfish and only worried about surviving and was never a true friend to Alexander and I hope by the end of the book, you completely agree with me.
I feel like I rambled on and on and on with this one but then I also think that I didn’t really tell you anything. While reading this I had to text Kelly over at Belle of the Literati over and over and over because of all the feels and if possible, I recommend you have someone you can talk to about this because you will want to share all the things about it as you read.
If you know me, you know I love historical anything and this book not only includes the historical pieces but also what I imagine to be a true picture of what it had to be like in Leningrad after the Germans began their attacks. On top of that aspect, the book includes some action and definitely some romance. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and find out what happens next. Trust me when I say you need to read this if any of those things sound interesting to you.
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THE BRONZE HORSEMAN (#1)
By: Paullina Simons
Publication Date: September 2009
The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler’s armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.
Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander’s impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects a secret as devastating as the war itself as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.
Paullina Simons was born in Leningrad, USSR, in 1963. At the age of ten her family immigrated to the United States. Growing up in Russia Paullina dreamt of someday becoming a writer. Her dream was put on hold as she learned English and overcame the shock of a new culture.
After graduating from university and after various jobs including working as a financial journalist and as a translator Paullina wrote her first novel Tully. Through word of mouth that book was welcomed by readers all over the world.
She continued with more novels, including Red Leaves, Eleven Hours, The Bronze Horseman, The Bridge to Holy Cross (also known as Tatiana and Alexander), The Summer Garden and The Girl in Times Square (also known as Lily). Many of Paullina’s novels have reached international bestseller lists.
Apart from her novels, Paullina has also written a cookbook, Tatiana’s Table, which is a collection of recipes, short stories and recollections from her best selling trilogy of novels, The Bronze Horseman, The Bridge to Holy Cross, (also known as Tatiana and Alexander) and The Summer Garden.