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.
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Original review (2013):
“When Tatiana looked up from her ice cream, she saw a soldier staring at her from across the street.”
This is one of my favorite books. Period. Alexander and Tatiana will stay with me forever. I still can’t quite believe such unconditional love could be real. I have never read a romance book as this one, I felt everything: love, passion, pain, death, sacrifice, just pouring from the pages.
“Not bombs nor my broken heart can take away from me walking barefoot with you in jasmine June through the Field of Mars.”
While reading I felt like I knew Tatiana & Alexander, I wanted to keep them close to my heart. I cannot do this book justice, with my words. Moreover, much has already been said about the romance, I’d like to reflect on the historical theme.
I love history. I think history is one grand story and I like nothing better than stories. The twentieth century was the most dreadful century in our history and the World War Two the bloodiest war. Therefore it is both fascinating and devastating to read about it. But, no matter how many books I read dealing with the subject of WWII, it never gets old, for each story is precious.
And, to me, the story of WWII is the story of the Soviet Union. The Bronze Horseman portrays the siege of Leningrad, which lasted almost 900 days, making it the second longest siege in modern European history. (The first one is the siege of Sarajevo.) And the author portrayed it so faithfully, that I could feel the hunger, the cold, the desperation of people. War is always terrible, but the effects it has on people even more so. Furthermore, as historical fiction is my favorite genre, I like nothing better than when the author does the research well. And Paullina Simons is obviously well acquainted with the history of her hometown.
“Lazarevo drips you into my soul, dawn drop by moonlight drop from the river Kama. When you look for me, look for me there, because that's where I'll be all the days of my life.”
As my review clearly shows, I was completely enthralled with this story. Re-reading this is both splendid and painful. When I am reading TBH, I am living in besieged Leningrad, in Lazarevo, on lake Ladoga, and that – is the best feeling ever.
“Good-bye, my moonsong and my breath, my white nights and golden days, my fresh water and my fire. Good-bye, and may you find a better life, find comfort again and your breathless smile, and when your beloved face lights up once more at the Western sunrise, be sure what I felt for you was not in vain. Good-bye and have faith, my Tatiana.”
And in the moonlight´s pallid glamourRides high upon the charging bruteHead held high ´mid echoing clamourThe Bronze Horseman in pursuit.
I still love it.
However, I have to be fair and point out that the novel is not without shortcomings. It is certainly a couple hundred pages too long, and while I didn’t mind it – that much, at least this time around, because I knew what was ahead of me; for some readers, it might be a problem and it might be at times overwhelming. On the other hand, I believe I understand where the author was coming from – you can’t attempt to write an epic, tragic love story without it being, well, long.
Moreover, our main characters – Tatiana and Alexander, are not flawless either. What is interesting for me, is that both represent types of characters by whom I normally would’ve been annoyed in any other book. Tatiana is the naïve, inexperienced girl, whereas Alexander is the tough, macho soldier. However, the thing is – I didn’t feel like they were ‘types’ at all, they felt very real to me, and despite some of their major character flaws, the author managed to make me care for them.
Therefore, The Bronze Horseman still remains one of my favorite books. It hurts to read it, but that’s why I love it.