The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman Series #1) by Paullina Simons
I was really torn on how to rate this book. It was LONG (810 pages!) and while it was a surprisingly quick read for its length it took me forever to finish the last 70 pages. It was not that the story was dragging along. In fact, it was a major turning point in the plot. I just could not get through it for the longest time. As I read the last sentence on the last page I realized what the problem was. I did not want it to end.
I love this book so much! It is romantic, chaotic, gorgeous, and breathtaking.
Tatiana Metanov is our heroine. Just as WWII comes to Russia she turns seventeen. She thinks that the war is the biggest thing that has ever happened to her. That is until she sees a soldier watching her across the street. His name is Alexander. When he crosses that street and follows her across the city on the tram her world is forever changed. It is love at first sight.
The remainder of the novel follows the struggles of their life together, in terms of both love and the war. One major obstacle is that Alexander has been seeing Tatiana’s older sister Dasha. Not wanting to hurt her family, Tatiana pushes Alexander away. But since it is the sort of love only explainable by fate they are unable to stay away from one another. It is not that they want each other. They NEED each other. This beautiful novel made me laugh, cry, and yell in frustration. It is absolutely an emotional roller coaster, but so worth the time. I recommend this to anyone who has an interest in epic love stories, Russia, WWII, and just good books.
Clearing up some criticism for this book:
A lot of people had issues with two main parts of this book, and while I understand their complaints I do not necessarily agree with them. First was that they were so annoyed with the way that Tatiana and Alexander behaved throughout the story. These people typically wanted more focus on the history aspect of the book. The Bronze Horseman is a love story. It says so right on the cover in pretty pink script, at least on the American paperback. Another thing to remember is that Tatiana is seventeen! Most teenagers have not had to deal with a level of catastrophe anywhere near the blockade of Leningrad. She reacts like a child because she is a child. She does begin the process of growing up over the eight hundred plus pages though and many of her actions are motivated by all-consuming love, a standard of the genre.
Another complaint is that the two were very selfish and that the only decent character was Dimitri. If you read the book all the way through you will be able to see quite clearly why this is not accurate. If there is a villain in this book, aside from the looming Soviet Union, then it would be Dimitri.
Most of the people who gave this book low ratings did not even finish. Keep an open mind while reading and persevere. You won’t regret it.
Suggestion Before Reading:
If you are unfamiliar with the Russian system of diminutive variants of names I would just read a quick explanation of them. It is small but might help in understanding some of the significance in the names used throughout the novel. Wikipedia actually has a pretty good explanation for it.