Book Review: The Bronze Horseman Trilogy by Paullina Simons

“Alexander, were you looking for me?”
“All my life.”
― Paullina Simons, The Bronze Horseman

Paullina Simon’s epic and monumental love story of Alexander Belov and Tatiana Metanova begins in The Bronze Horseman and continues to its conclusion in the third book The Summer Garden. Their story begins when Hitler’s armies attack Russia causing Russia to join the Allies during World War II. In Leningrad a young Tatiana’s world is turned upside down when she meets a brave young officer in the Red Army. Alexander is the most handsome man Tatiana has ever seen, but behind his self-confident demeanor Alexander is hiding a dangerous troubled past. Despite the odds, these two are drawn to each other. But as starvation and fear runs rampant during the German siege their love threatens to tear apart Tatiana’s family and possibly expose Alexander’s secret.

“Ask yourself these three questions, Tatiana Metanova, and you will know who you are. Ask: What do believe in? What do you hope for? What do you love?”

As Tatiana and Alexander’s love story continues we learn that Tatiana believes, hopes for, and loves Alexander. Luckily, Alexander feels the same way about her. Their love is a powerful story of love and hope, and their passion for each other is epic. When I began the first book I thought Tatiana was extremely naive. As a young sixteen year old girl living in Communist Russia in a two room apartment, I her naïveté was off-putting, but as I continued to read, about 150 pages in I changed my mind. Tatiana’s family was extremely protective and tried to maintain her innocence for as long as possible. Never having been kissed, told about boys, or had a boyfriend, Tatiana was completely unprepared to meet someone like Alexander. It was her innocence that drew him to her, but her innocence and moral compass partnered with Alexander’s tendency to withdraw into himself caused them more problems than was necessary. Still the payoff was worth the wait.

“We walk alone through this world, but if we’re lucky, we have a moment of belonging to something, to someone, that sustains us through a lifetime of loneliness.”

**BEWARE: SPOILERS BELOW**

The Bronze Horseman Trilogy isn’t your usual romance of boy meets girl, obstacles try to keep them apart, lovers battle the odds to find their way to one another. Instead, Simons has made the readers voyeurs into the lives of this couple. Through them we live a lifetime that spans from war torn Russia to modern times in the United States. We watch them reunite after four years of being separated due to Alexander’s imprisonment and Tatiana’s escape to America. We feel their pain as Alexander grapples with a family he needs to care for while he battles the demons that rage inside of him. As Tatiana struggles to grow into her own, we rage at Alexander’s selfishness for trying to keep Tatiana from being independent. Their memories haunt them throughout their lives, and like the scars on Alexander’s body, their memories are reminders of everything that’s shaped them into the people they’ve become. While it’s easy to judge Alexander for some of his bad decisions in the last book, one has to remember the time period in which the story takes place. Even though that doesn’t excuse his behavior, it does put it in perspective.

“Everything comes at a price. Everything in your life. The question you have to ask yourself is, what price are you willing to pay?”

Alexander is strong, introverted, and brooding. A hero straight out of any romance novel brought to life. As a soldier in the Red Army Alexander inexplicably crossed the street for Tatiana as she eats ice cream waiting for her life to begin, and trying to erase the fear that it may be over before it even began. While Tatiana seems weak and innocent, she really is made of steel. It is this mettle that pulls Alexander out from his PTSD and turns him back into the Shura she fell in love with. By the end of the series, we see them come full circle. Tatiana eating ice cream on a bench while Alexander spots her from across the street and crosses it for her. No matter how many years have passed, they both still see one another as they were the day they first met.

“We thought the hard part was over—but we were wrong. Living is the hardest part. Figuring out how to live your life when you’re all busted up inside and out—there is nothing harder.”

As the years roll by readers watch as they struggle to grow their family, make a living, and remain faithful. Russia was a land that didn’t give them what they needed, and America became a place that gave them more than required. A place where temptations tried to pull them apart. Just when you thought things could be normal in their lives, the fear and uncertainty of the Cold War forced Tatiana and Alexander to hide their past as they struggled to obtain the ‘American Dream.’ This book series isn’t just about love. It’s about life, the realities of marriage, and the meaning of family. No matter what threatens to pull Tatiana and Alexander apart, these two always manage to find their way back to each other. They aren’t just lovers, they’re the best of friends, and it is because of this friendship that they’re able to always remember their enormously deep love for one another. This isn’t a fairy-tale by any means. For as much happiness these two find, there are equal amounts of tragedy and pain. The Bronze Horseman Trilogy is a gritty, intensely emotional roller-coaster that will make you cheer and cry. Paullina Simons’ well-crafted romance is a story that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

This is my tenth completed review for the 2014 Historical Fiction Challenge for my tenth, eleventh and twelth books.

The Bronze Horseman
Kindle Edition, 912 pages
Published March 2009 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1997)
ASINB000FC10Y8
Edition Language:English
Tatiana and Alexander (The Bronze Horseman, #2)
Kindle Edition, 578 pages
Published June 2010 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2003)
ASINB003P2WA9Y
Edition Language: English
The Summer Garden (The Bronze Horseman, #3)
Kindle Edition, 755 pages
Published June 2011 by HarperCollins (first published 2006)
ASINB004HW782K
Edition Language: English

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