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Saturday, April 9, 2011

REVIEW: The Bronze Horsemen (#1, Tatiana & Alexander) by Paullina Simons

 5+ Stars!!!  - (Read in November 2010)

"He wanted to explain but felt shattered. He was shattered." - Yes, I know, Alexander. Me, too. Review to follow when I feel less shattered. On to Book 2!!
12+ Hours later….

Okay, I figure there is NO WAY I can ever do this book justice, so, I just need to pour out this “review” now, and hopefully in the release of my swirling thoughts and emotions I’m not too nonsensical.

Firstly, I would like to THANK my Goodreads friends, Viola and Quinn, for recommending this book to me, and to thank them and other Goodreads friends (Catherine, Sans, MaldivianBookReviewer and Zosia) for giving me some "emotional support" (knowingly and unknowingly) as I read this. *HUGS* Why did I need “emotional support”, you say? Well…

Viola and Quinn told me it would be “heart-wrenching” but that didn’t even begin to cover what I (and I'm sure they) felt reading it. How can I possibly convey the sweet agony of this ACHINGLY beautiful, evocative and EPIC love story? I can honestly say I have NEVER FELT SO MUCH reading a book before!! In fact, there were moments when I wanted to hurl the book against the wall because I felt so strongly…and I have never felt that urge before. 

Have you ever read a story that so CAPTURED you, that even as you put it down, the emotions it evoked in you stuck with you all throughout the day, until you could return to it again and were sucked in even MORE? Have you ever read a story that stole your breath away, made your heart feel like it was being twisted into a pretzel, and kept squeezing until you felt…SHATTERED? And yet it also filled your heart to bursting with a love so beautiful it brought tears to your eyes? Have you ever read a story that made you FEEL SO MUCH, that it felt like it was TOO MUCH - too much longing, too much pain, too much anger, too much love - and you needed breaks from it, while also feeling COMPELLED to keep reading, and you actually thought: "HOW CAN I SURVIVE THIS BOOK?!?!" Have you ever read a story of a love so INTENSE and CONSUMING, that it transcends the pages it is written on and etches itself into your heart?

The Bronze Horseman was such a story, for me!

Viola and Quinn told me it would be “heart-wrenching” but that didn’t even begin to cover what I (and I'm sure they) felt reading it. How can I possibly convey the sweet agony of this achingly beautiful, evocative and EPIC love story? I can honestly say I have NEVER FELT SO MUCH reading a book before!! In fact, there were moments when I wanted to hurl the book against the wall because I felt so strongly…and I have never felt that urge before. 

The Bronze Horseman begins on 22 June 1941 in Leningrad, when war is declared between the Soviet Union and Germany. A 17-year-old girl named Tatiana is sent out to buy food supplies by her father. As she sits in her white dress with red roses, at the bus stop, eating her favourite crème brulée ice cream, her eyes meet those of a young soldier named Alexander Belov, who is standing across the street.
“It was a perfect day. For five minutes there was no war, and it was just a glorious Sunday in a Leningrad June.

When Tatiana looked up from her ice cream, she saw a soldier staring at her from across the street.
Tatiana normally would have glanced past him down the street and moved on, except that this soldier was standing across the street and staring at her with an expression Tatiana had never seen before. She stopped eating her ice cream.

Her side of the street was already in the shade, but the side where he stood swam in the northern afternoon light. Tatiana stared back at him for just a moment, and in the moment of looking into his face, something moved inside her; moved she would have liked to say imperceptibly, but that wasn’t quite the case. It was as if her heart started pumping blood through all four chambers at once, pouring into her lungs and flooding it through her body. She blinked and felt her breath become shorter.”
As Alexander crosses the street, inexplicably drawn to this innocent blonde girl with freckles, thus begins a tale so moving that I will never ever forget it.

Paullina Simons paints a painfully stark portrayal of Stalin’s communist Soviet Union and the sufferings of the people of Leningrad, as Hitler’s siege of the city slowly starves the people to death. Amidst the starving hunger, the bitter cold winter, and the death of loved ones, burns an “impossible love” between Tatiana and Alexander. For Alexander is the soldier that Tatiana’s sister, Dasha, had declared herself “in love with”, just that very morning, before Alexander and Tatiana’s fateful meeting. But it is lies, secrets and fears that eat at their souls and will threaten to tear them apart. “What does it cost the soul to lie?”

There were moments I was so angry at Alexander that it broke my heart. And there were moments when the intensity of Alexander’s love and protectiveness for Tatia made me love him so much it hurt. My GAWD!! The way he loved her?! Be still my heart! But it was the innocent, naïve, selfless and stubborn Tatiana, who grew into a woman with such strength and perseverance, who became “my hero”. And the way she loved him?? *sniffles* They both made such sacrifices for each other. I loved the yearning, the looks, the little touches, the tender and passionate moments between them, and also all their confrontations.

This was by no means a perfect book. While Paullina Simons vividly paints pictures with her descriptions, there are times when the wordiness becomes too much, and may have benefited from a bit of editing down the repetitive moments. I can completely see why someone would not like this book for that reason. But because the depth and breadth of emotions that I felt reading this book surpassed any other, it was a 5+ Stars!!! read for me - THANK YOU, Paullina Simons, for penning this incredible story!

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book and make sure you have uninterrupted time to read it, if you can have that luxury. Because you will be COMPELLED to read this book into the dawn and beyond! There are two more books to this tale: Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden.

For those who have read the book: I loved the Kirov trips, Luga, St. Isaac’s, Pushkin's book and their chats about it, and Lazarevo! ^_~

For those who haven’t read the book: What are you waiting for??? Besides some time to surrender over to this epic tale? ^_^ Seriously, though, this may not be a book for everyone. It seems that people either love it or hate it. Besides the writing style, it seems whether one loves this or not, depends on how the reader views the characters and the intent/motivation behind their actions. Anyway, if you do read it, I hope you love it as much as I do! Because this truly was the most intense and amazing experience.

I'm sorry if my "review" is TOO MUCH, but I could go on and on about this story...But I won't. ^_^

My Alexander (Henry Cavill) *SIIIGGHHHSSS* 

 My Tatiana (Teresa Palmer)
And have you ever read a story that affected you so much that you found yourself constantly looking for songs to become your "playlist", so that music could capture what you couldn't in your own words? Well, this book did that to me!

My Playlist:

While there are a number of Sarah McLachlan songs that form my “playlist” to this story, this song below, for me, is Tatiana and Alexander’s “theme song”:

** Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan:
For this reason: “Her lips were on his face, on his throat, on the top of his chest. She whispered, “You know what your skin feels like to me? The ice cream that I love. Creamy, smooth. Your whole body is the color of caramel, like my crème brulée, but you’re not cold like ice cream, you’re warm.” She rubbed her lips back and forth against his chest.
“So – better than ice cream?”
“Yes,” she smiled, moving up to his lips. “I love you better than ice cream.”
- The Bronze Horseman
** Song For A Winter's Night by Sarah McLachlan:
(Cover of Glenn Lighfoot's song)
It represents Tatiana's hunger for Alexander during the winter of the siege of Leningrad, and also the starvation of the city. I love the lyrics and her haunting voice.
** Falling Softly:
Kris Allen version. This song, to me, represents Alexander's feelings about Tatiana and the whole situation in The Bronze Horseman:

A good Fan-made video I found with Henry Cavill as Alexander and Romola Garai as Tatiana:


  1. Your review make me really want to read the books! Come end of Nov, can I borrow TBH?
    Beautiful review, great pics of the main characters and I like the playlist, esp Ice Cream....and no, dont think your review is 'too much' ; )

  2. I somehow missed this comment previously, Mel! So sorry! Thanks for your lovely comment about the review, pics and playlist. This is just such an intense and compelling book. It really is an "experience". Are you ready to read it now? ^_^

  3. Song For A Winter's Night by Sarah McLachlan .. I cried during this song! Love the lyrics .. it fits perfectly :):)

  4. Hi Anonymous! Yes, it's a very poignant song. So haunting and the lyrics, to me, symbolise both the starvation of the city and Tatiana's hunger for Alexander.

    The two songs I found that will always make me think of the second book, Tatiana and Alexander, always make my heart ache when I listen to them. You can listen to them here, if you want:


  5. Oh my lord. What a trilogy! For myself and a small group of girlfriends who've been on the Tats and Alexander epic journey, agree, agree, agree!! I think you summed it up when you said 'I have NEVER FELT SO MUCH reading a book before!!'

    Great write up and completely agree. I absolutely loved this trilogy and became so engrossed in it, i found it hard to come back to real life and leave this amazing love story. And today was the first day I discovered that Henry Cavill was going to play/ might play?? (please, please, please...) Alexander and that did nothing to help the obsession :) There's not many men that could play Alexander but by god Cavill could. To those that haven't read it, it will change your life. Buy, borrow, rent a copy now. Welcome to the most beautiful love story ever, set alongside a fascinating and moving portrayal of WW2. Good work Lady Jayne.

  6. Hi Jen! Yes, truly, NEVER FELT SO MUCH! It was CRAZY! Haha! Thanks so much for the comment! It is always great to connect with other captives of The Bronze Horseman trilogy. :-)

    Well, there has been talk of Henry playing Alexander but there has also been other candidates. Nothing confirmed, yet, as far as I'm aware. But man, I would LOVE IT if Henry played Alexander in the movie! He would be AMAZING!

    And I agree. Anyone who hasn't read it - Must. Get. A. Copy. NOW. :-)

  7. Where can i find the second books in internet plzzz can u tell me ? I love this its amzing