The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
Format (That I Read It):Book
Summary: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.
Initial Thoughts:I heard about this book only once before, on Booktube, but that one time convinced me to read it. I heard that it was a for-sure read if you liked historical fiction novels and romance. I have only read one book of historical fiction (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon) but I was hooked. I had never found the book before in a store until one day randomly at a local paperback bookstore I found it for half price and immediately bought it.
Going into this book, I was a little nervous that I wasn’t going to like it and/or it would be a slow build like Outlander. Then thirty pages in Alexander and Tatiana met then I was hooked. It gave me feelings I haven’t felt for a book in a really long time. It became my world. I was constantly thinking, reading, and wondering about the character. Then with each page that passed my heart broke. Like, when Dasha died I teared up even though I disliked Dasha quite a bit. I was so invested in the characters, you can’t help but root for Alexander and Tatiana. They clearly fell in love at first sight and throughout the whole book they struggled to be together. They always had an obstacle in their way: the war, Tatia’s family, Dmitri, the NKVD, etc. That’s why it was so satisfying when they finally got to be together...well not exactly. Tatia still had the four old women she was trying to hide her relationship from. I found that part funny. I like Alexander bluntly saying: “Did you tell them we’re married?” After Alexander had to go back to the war I was convinced that he would die. I was actually preparing myself for it. But it never came true.
I gave this book five stars even though I had some issues. The first thing that stood out to me was the overused trope of the female protagonist being the virgin while the male protagonist is the “player”. I think that’s just an overused theme that I could have done without but that’s just a minor issue. I think it was because Tatiana was so young and naive, but she really bothered me at times. She was very stubborn at times, case and point when Alexander left her at Lazarevo and she didn’t keep her promise but instead went back to Leningrad. It made sense for Tatiana though. She is in love and selfless and doesn’t think about anyone over herself. Everything she did in the entire book was for others. I really loved that about her, but I also wanted her to be more independent.
Surprisingly I only cried at the end and it was at a part I’d never expected to be crying for. When Tatiana gets to Sweden she tries to but the food at the cafe/bakery with the American money Alexander left but she can’t first, she must exchange the money to Swedish currency when the women who worked there comes out giving Tatiana a loaf of white bread and a cup of coffee. That scene set off the water works. I’m wasn’t even sure why I was crying (happiness, sadness, relief) I don’t know. What I do know is it reminded me of Alexander and all the times he helped Tatia. The book ends on what I think was a bittersweet note. Tatiana is in America separated from Alexander where she goes into early labor and gives birth to a baby boy she names Anthony Alexander Barrington after his father.
Paullina Simons crafted a breathtakingly beautiful story. This series is for sure going into my favorites of all time. She left me wondering exactly what’s going to happen to the characters in the next book.