Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

The Bronze Horseman 
by Paullina Simons 

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.
I don't even know where to begin reviewing this one. I guess I could start with this: I really loved it. .

The book wasn't perfect but I just...it's one of those ones that can bring you to tears and make your heart ache and I love that. I love getting caught up in the story like that, caring like that.
And I'm still struggling to find how to explain my thoughts on the book, so I'll just bullet point it:
  • The romance*: I loved Tatiana and Alexander, and I loved them together. They weren't perfect--Tatiana started out pretty immature and childish, but she grows up throughout the novel and it was great reading as that happened. They were both flawed, and their relationship was flawed too...both of them said and did stupid things, but I never stopped rooting for them to be together and never doubted the characters really loved each other.
  • The setting: I can find books about the second world war so easily, but they're usually focussed on Britain, or America, or France, or Germany and that's fine but it's good to read some of the other perspectives too. Honestly, I didn't know too much about the Siege of Leningrad until I read this book (and then looked up stuff about it after finishing) and as awful as it is, I'm glad I'm a little less ignorant about it now.
The negatives worth mentioning:
  • There's this chunk of the story about halfway through where it just descends into the cheesiest supposed-to-be-erotic romance and it felt kind of out of place--the dialogue in those scenes was hilariously awkward. I guess it just felt out of place because the rest of the book was like this aching love story while that part was just...the two of them at it like rabbits and written like any other erotic romance would be. But thankfully it didn't continue like that for the entirety of the book.
  • The book is really long. Which is fine but I'm not particularly looking forward to the sequel...not because I didn't love this one or because I doubt that I'll love the sequel just as much, it's just that I like my romance novels to be resolved by the end of the book (especially when the book is more than 600 pages long). I don't want to have to read another 600-700 pages of a sequel to feel closure. 
Basically, I don't think the story had to be dragged out quite so much...but then I'm torn, because I enjoyed the story, it's not like I was bored. Gah. I don't know what to think (although, if the story is nicely wrapped up by the end of the second book like I've heard, I'll be in no hurry to read the third...there can be too much of a good thing, and about 2K pages of one love story is too much).
There's more I could say about the story and the other characters but this review is already too rambling and terrible (sorry about that) so I'll leave it at that. But yeah, I loved it, I'd rate it 4.5 stars out of 5 and I think it may have earned a spot on my favourites shelf.
Later.
*has to be noted though, there are things about the romance that did annoy me but it was more in a modern feminist kind of way than anything else and the majority of the stuff can sort of be forgiven when you take into consideration the setting, culture, and time period (and the war aspect--they're living in extreme circumstances so they love to extremes too).

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