I've been in a reading slump lately so I'm really hoping this book is as good as I keep hearing it is. This is a review on The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, the synopsis provided by Goodreads:
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.
Reference:I heard about this book from the booktuber LittleBookOwl.
(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)How do I find the words to articulate my feelings? Oh that's right-- I can't. Because this book is impossible to without being on some way connected to something-- anything. I'm not really sure what I was getting at, but it's just hard to sum up my feelings. I was completely hooked the entire time, every single turn of the page page, every second of their lives and mine; when Tatiana and Alexander were together, when they were apart, when they were together but apart... Ahhh amore.
Alright, for those not familiar with this title, and for those who didn't meticulously admire the cover like I did, this is in fact a love story. In the city of Leningrad, on June 22, 1941, two Russians, sixteen (soon to be seventeen) year old Tatiana and twenty-two year old Alexander, a lieutenant in Russia's Red Army, fall in love. Or that's what all people do apparently when they see their "potential" soul mate. That sounds harsh, but I mean it with a hint of humor and lots of love. But seriously, I really can't find anything I don't like about this book.
I've skimmed through reviews of people who didn't like this book and I found that some people found everything too literary appropriate. What I mean is they didn't find the story enough for them, thinking the characters went through "obstacles" and trials that makes the book what it is, but simply not providing anything more. No matter, it was definitely enough for me. For 810 pages I was in 1940s Russia, side by side with Tatiana or with Alexander. They both went through so much, whether through the army for Alex or the work force/chaotic family for Tatiana.
I need to defend Tatiana, in the beginning she acts like a very mature child. Meaning she acts like a child when it comes to love, but when it comes to her family she's very mature. People may plague her with only flat assumptions, but I tried to picture her life. She's a 16 year old who's already working to help her family of 6 (two grandparents, two parents, and two other siblings), and she never had any experience with love or even talk about it. Or older sister of 7 years is more flimsy but she doesn't even talk about boys with even her. So I found Tatiana's hesitancy in wanting to pursue a relationship and place it above her family only natural. And if that isn't enough, her parents consider her the least important: after the favorite Pasha (her twin) the only boy in the family and after the older sister who I think went to university with their cousin (I may be wrong, I know for a fact she worked in a dentist's office). She was last and even then she was never complimented, and always did as she was told. After doing it her entire life, she could never find it in herself to be selfish and want anything for only herself. She's shy and modest and young, and by the time we reach the end we get to a confident, headstrong, mature yet caring and devoted woman. Even her voice changes, it isn't hard to believe since I was with her and saw her grow as the war continued.
The main characters, Tatiana and Alexander, I'd have to call them my favorite literary couple I've read so far. It's probably because I was with them for about 24 hours (since that's about how long it took me to read it in 3 days) since I bled, loved, thought, ate, slept and lived with them throughout it all. Tatiana learns to grow from child to adult and by the end you won't believe that she's only eighteen, in fact, her voice doesn't even sound like hers. I had to sometimes stop and reread her dialogue and remember, "oh yeah, this is an eighteen year old saying this." Sorry for the redundancy.
What made me hesitant for this book at first was this is was a war story. I like historical fiction, but not much a fan of war. But it had romance, it was going to be set in Russia-- a place I've never traveled to or read about before so I was interested, I'd seen many good reviews from Goodreads, I needed to give this book a chance. Well, this is a war story, it also had starvation, sickness, the inevitable death, I felt like everything was so real. Particularly the part of the book where there was famine. (Let me tell you when reading that part, I remember putting the book down and really thinking about how spoiled and how good I had it. I looked over to my dogs bowl and saw them empty, and even though it was hours before I was supposed to feed them, I filled up their bowls anyways.) I love the books that make me actually have me stop and think about life. And not just the word life when I say it so noncommittally, I mean why am I alive and what do I want it for, who do I live it for. I don't want to go on and on about that, but when a book can sneak in some existential thinking, I can't think bad about it at all.
As for the writing, it isn't anything special. I wasn't blown away however I wasn't disappointed. I found some errors, (out of 810 pages I found like 2-3) but that's more the editor than the writer I think. It's only the story brought through the writing that makes this book so breathtaking in my opinion. All the love and triumphs and all the disasters and tragedies, I felt them all with her detail and my mind is still trying to wrap around this book. And this is just book 1 of 3. I hope to be a writer like Simons who has the talent to completely soak their reader in and really believe this person existed-- I mean character existed. I just love love love this book.
There was one part, where Alexander and Tatiana were writing to each other, I think I almost became close to crying. I felt my eyes get watery (which the closest that's ever happened was in The Return of the King, that one scene between Faramir and his father Denethor), but I didn't cry. Needless to say, there are many sad and tear-jerking moments. But love is worth it. I'd reread them all for love. Well doesn't that make me sound like a hopeless romantic? :P
Probably my favorite thing about this book is that I couldn't predict what was going to happen. I read a lot so I do my fair share of predicting characters and their actions, so whenever I would and I turned out to be wrong, it just made me so much more enamored in the story. Also I'd build suspense when there was none so that made me really dive into it.
My only regret is not marking up my favorite parts, because there were quite a few. I don't think I can try to fathom to attempt trying to explain how much I love this book. I want to reread it all (yes even the sad parts because they made the good parts twice as good). I've already got my hands on the next copy thanks to my mom, and am unsure whether to continue on or wait so I don't over do it and get tired of the story. I highly recommend this book to those who like to read romance books. Believe me, this book is as beautiful inside as it is on the out.
I give this book 5/5 stars. Hands down.
"I want to be neither with kings nor heroes, but with the queen of Lake Ilmen."
-Alexander, Paullina Simons, The Bronze Horseman
-Alexander, Paullina Simons, The Bronze Horseman
Next To Read:
Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons
River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)Can I say how much I loved Tatiana and Alexander as a couple? Ohh no, yep-- there are no words. I give them best couple award. No one else will be as perfect for them than each other. Both so stubborn yet both so willing to do what the other wants-- except Tatiana, of course.
First thing, I know that Pasha was only in the first 30 pages or so, but even after finishing anyone else feel like he's going to miraculously come back? I mean, none of the characters saw him die and it was always just assumed. I really would like to see Tatiana somehow reunite with him, or maybe her grandma Babushka. Seriously, it was getting really depressing in the second part when the first winter came and everyone kept dropping like flies. At first it was the dad, then it was Marina's mom, Marina, the mom, Deda, the neighbors. The only one who survived was Slavin who was just a creeper. Then when they finally left Leningrad, Dasha died.
I didn't really feel that sad when she did, because she was just selfish and blind as Marina told her she was. She never really cared about Tatiana's feelings and never did anything for her unless Alex asked her to. When Tania ran away in the beginning to find her brother, Dasha only went to Alex I think just to see him. Her death gave Tania the courage to finally think of herself and move on.
There are four parts to this book, for the eyes who haven't read the book:
1. Tatiana and Alexander meet (summer 1941); he reveals he's American (a little important fact for later); she runs away to find her bro and in the mean time learns how to be a nurse; he rescues her from near death and their clandestine affair begins
2. the first winter; Tania and Alex affair is harder to hide with Marina leaving hints that Dasha is missing the big picture; Alex helps Tania and Dasha escape Leningrad; Tania's and Alex's affair "ends" with a harsh farewell (Alex tells Dasha that he's never loved Tania and doesn't even look back to her which pretty much breaks Tania's heart); Alex returns back to Leningrad (December 1941)
3. 6 months later (summer 1942) they reunite in Lazarevo (both thinking the other dead); they marry; their life together (meaning, a lot of the sex). Alex returns back to the army after a month off from his furlough.
4. Tania returns back to Leningrad to help the wounded but also to be closer to Alex; Alex is wounded and Tania cares for him (actually she saves his life). reveals Tania's pregnant; they plan to escape to America, but complications with Dimitri who's appeared arbitrarily in part 2 and 3, tries to blackmail Alex to getting only them two to leave and leave Tania behind (very wrong decision, Alex breaks his arm and beats him up); Dr. Sayers helps Alex fake his death to convince Tania to leave; Dimitri unfortunately tags along; they're almost out until someone Dimitri ripped off recognizes him and calls him out, there's a fight and Sayers and Dimitri dies; Tania eventually gets to America where their son is born: Anthony Alexander Barrington.
I'm really interested how the next book is going to play out (I've just started it). They're separated, Alex is still in Russia and now Tania is with a baby boy in America. I'm disheartened to think that the majority of this book they're going to be separated, I really hope not. But the booktuber I heard this from said they really liked the ending of this book, so it's giving me incentive.
I want to list some of my favorite parts, but it's pretty much when Alex and Tania were just together being themselves-- not hiding from everyone else. But one of my favorite, favorite parts that I thought the sweetest moment between them was in the first part when Alex just rescued Tania and he's trying to give her a bath to clean her up but she's so modest and shy and wounded and he's all sweet and gentle. Haha in my head I was like he's probably thinking, "girl you haven't got anything I haven't seen before!" I mean, c'mon, Alex is such a flirt (until he lays eyes on Tania *sighs*).
Until Next Time,