“Ask yourself these three questions, Tatiana Metanova, and you will know who you are. Ask: What do believe in? What do you hope for? What do you love?”
When I first bought a book by Paullina Simons, I was strolling through the sales rack of Barnes and Nobles (I was a student at the time and trying by any way possible to appease my thirst for novels). I saw The Bronze Horseman, read the little blurb, it was about love and war and family and did I mention love? I went home with it and never regretted that decision once. It is one of those epic love stories which stay with you long after you turned off the lights.
The Bronze Horseman: From the author of the international bestseller Tully comes an epic tale of passion, betrayal, and survival in World War II Russia. Leningrad, 1941: The European war seems far away in this city of fallen grandeur, where splendid palaces and stately boulevards speak of a different age, when the city was known as St. Petersburg. Now two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanov, live in a cramped apartment, sharing one room with their brother and parents. Such are the harsh realities of Stalin’s Russia, but when Hitler invades the country, the siege of its cities makes the previous severe conditions seem luxurious. Against this backdrop of danger and uncertainty, Tatiana meets Alexander, an officer in the Red Army whose self-confidence sets him apart from most Russian men and helps to conceal a mysterious and troubled past. (Picture and summary from Goodreads.com)
I fell hard for this book and for its characters. I mean, Alexander, is one of the most attractive character I got to know. Maybe I am bias because my husband´s family comes originally from Russia (yes we are international) and some of the nicknames used are ones I hear from times to times. The numerous references to Puschkin and her love for literature probably helped as well.
Diving into the story, we are transported in a time of terror but through which hope emerges. Tatiana is strong and stubborn. She grows up fast because she has to, her relationship with her grandparents and her sister shine through the book. It is not an easy situation and yes the moral may not come unhurt but the passion and its denyal are there. She holds her ground against him, she tries to stay true to her values and herself, growing up too fast in a changing world.
Of course, nothing can always be perfect and sometimes, I did feel like history was simplified and that there was a strong US vs Russia type of situation: Russian men bad, American men good (a little stereotypical but luckily the love of Tatiana for her grandfather and the honor, respect and good nature of some Russian soldiers do save the situation from times to times). There may be other things one could maybe complain about, but honestly I did not care because I jumped into the story head first.
Why? Because I rooted for Tatiana and Alexander, because one can feel like you are at home with her when she is starting to cook blinis for him and her family…
The Bronze Horseman is followed by Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden. While I enjoyed Tatiana and Alexander, I was not able to immerse myself in the story as I did with The Bronze Horseman. The Summer Garden is different but it teaches us that even the most powerful of love can take awhile to heal the scars and the importance of not drifting apart. It took my breath away, in a different manner than The Bronze Horseman.
Oh and if you end up falling in love with The Bronze Horseman as much as I did, you can even get the recipes from the books (food plays such an important role in it). I have to admit, I only did one dish so far. My husband keeps on telling me the ones I want to make take too long and that his mom can cook them for us (she does and it is indeed yummy…). One day though, I will make piroshki.
Now I´m hungry, off to eat…but before I do a little question for you: is there an epic love story you could not put down and read several times? Or what, according to you, makes a story a beautiful love story? Feel free to let me know if you hate love stories 🙂