“I want you to know that should something happen to me, don’t worry about my body. My soul isn’t going to return to it, nor to God. It’s flying straight to you, where it knows it can find you, in Lazarevo. I want to be neither with kings nor heroes, but with the queen of Lake Ilmen.” ― Paullina Simons,
During the summer of 1941 the Metanov family are living a hard life in Leningrad. As the German armies advance their future looks bleak. For Tatiana, love arrives in the guise of Alexander, who harbours a deadly and extraordinary secret. – Goodreads
Title: The Bronze Horseman
Author: Paullina Simons
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.35/5 stars
My Rating: 4.75/5 stars
Background. The Bronze Horseman is set in Leningrad, Russia during World War II. The story follows Tatiana, a young girl, and Alexander, a Captain in the Red Army. Tatiana along with her twin brother Pasha, are the youngest in the family. She lives with her parents, grandparents, her older sister Dasha, and Pasha until he is sent to a boy’s camp just before the war begins. Someone who is willing to do anything for her family, Tatiana finds herself going to pick up food at the beginning of the war. While searching for a store with food, Tatiana meets Alexander at a bus stop. This begins a story of heart break, tension, and the troubling times during WWII that many Russians faced. But Tatiana never gives up hope.
Pros. Where to begin?? I loved Tatiana. Even in the times when I was so frustrated with her just doing anything that her family asked of her, it never shook my love for her as a main character. I really think all of the characters were so lively. There wasn’t a single character in this book that I felt like Simons could have done without.
The setting of Russia during WWII was so intriguing to me. Simons really made it come alive and I truly felt like I was part of the story and not just an on-looker. The magic (and not so majestic) side of Russia and the Russian winters were told with such clarity. I feel like if I were to go to Leningrad today I would still be able to pick out the stores that Tatiana shopped at and Fifth Soviet where her communal apartment was located.
The relationships between all of the characters was so interesting as well. Every relationship brought something different to the table. I loved seeing how Tatiana changed, but also didn’t change in each relationship. No matter what happened with each of the characters, it never felt like a relief to Tatiana when someone passed away (except you Dimitri… except you).
Tatiana’s character development through this book was something to really love as well. She grew from a young child to a woman in one book and did so beautifully. You see how her life had little meaning before the war and then her grow through the trying times and nearly die. When she finally makes it out to the other side, she has to be a changed person and she does so gracefully.
The relationship between Tatiana and Alexander was something that I definitely looked forward to through the whole book. I loved most of their interactions with each other and I felt the pain that they felt throughout the whole book as well. There was a particular issue that I had with their relationship, which I will talk about in the next section, but overall I loved both Tatiana and Alexander with all of my heart.
The plot line of Alexander being American was also an intriguing aspect of the novel. I was curious about Alexander’s life and family before he came to Russia. I was so happy when he decided to go along with Tatiana’s idea with the Red Cross doctor only for all of those hopes and dreams to be taken away from me. I have never felt so anxious as I did while reading the last third of the book. So good.
Cons. The only thing that really affected me negatively while reading this book was parts of Alexander and Tatiana’s relationship. It felt pretty darn close to abusive at times. I really tried to put it in context of the story and that time period but it was still super harsh at times.
Overall. Man, what a book The Bronze Horseman is. It had so many fantastic aspects to it and it was truly a joy to read. There wasn’t a single time when I didn’t really feel like reading through any part of it. Simons definitely knows how to create a world that entrances the reader. This was definitely a close 5/5 stars for me, overall 4.75/5 stars. I definitely have to pick up the next book soon to see where this story takes us.