The Bronze Horseman Paperback – 1 Sep 2008
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Pulling off the passionate love story embedded in a truly epic narrative is a difficult thing to do. Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind remains the blueprint for the genre, while Tolstoy's War and Peace carries off the literary honours with the Pierre/Natasha/André ménage, itself a blueprint for Mitchell's Brett/Scarlett/Ashley musical chairs. Paullina Simons' ambitious The Bronze Horseman weighs in at nearly 700 pages, and it's quickly apparent that the Russian-born author has the measure of this kind of epic romantic saga. The power of her descriptive writing, the vividness of the historical detail and, most of all, the strength of her central characters mark out her novel as a considerable achievement.
Simons was born in Leningrad and emigrated to the US in the 1970s. She sets her love story in the war-torn Leningrad of 1941. Utilising as her setting this phantasmagoric city of decaying splendour, Simons expertly involves the reader in the fate of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha, living a penurious existence with their brother and parents. Their lives are ineluctably changed when Hitler invades Russia in June 1941. On that day, Tatiana meets a confident and attractive young officer, Alexander. As the Russian winter wreaks its havoc and the bombs fall, Alexander and Tatiana struggle with their growing love in the face of death and destruction. Simons' most impressive coup here is to ensure that the troubled love affair at the centre of her narrative is not engulfed by the terrifying conflagration that surrounds her characters. Tatiana in particular is drawn with a truly felicitous grasp of character: idiosyncratic, strong-willed and charismatic, she possesses all the requisite qualities to support a tale such as this.
However, the author isn't content to merely soothe and stir the reader: by using Hitler's war machine on the one hand and the dehumanising Soviet system on the other, she is able to make some powerful statements about the durability of the human spirit, but never at the expense of descriptive passages refulgent with power and beauty:
The train station crumbled like wet paper. Tatiana crawled from the beams and the fire, but there was nowhere for her to go. Through the smoke she could feel bodies around her. Hot and faint, she felt for them with her hands. The gunfire came from right outside the door, but when the lattice beam fell from the ceiling, all sounds faded away, all faded away and there was no more fear. Only regret was left. Regret for Alexander.--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Praise for Paullina Simons
‘Pick up this book and prepare to have your emotions wrung so completely you’ll be sobbing your heart out one minute and laughing through your tears the next… Read it and weep – literally’ Company
Tatiana and Alexander
'This has everything a romance glutton could wish for: a bold, talented and dashing hero, a heart-stopping love affair … It also has – thank goodness – a welcome sense of humour and discernible characters rather than ciphers.'
Victoria Moore, Daily Mail
The Bronze Horseman
‘Pulling off the passionate love story embedded in a truly epic narrative is a difficult thing to do. Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind remains the blueprint for the genre, while Tolstoy's War and Peace carries off the literary honours … it's quickly apparent that the Russian-born author Paullina Simons has the measure of this kind of epic romantic saga … She is able to make some powerful statements about the durability of the human spirit, but never at the expense of descriptive passages refulgent with power and beauty’ Barry Forshaw, amazon
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Top Customer Reviews
Simons' manages to insert some history in the novel also; although it never reaches the depths of the dreaded 'historical novel'.
What sets this novel apart from other romances is the strength of the relationship between Alexander and Tatiana- unlike most romance novels they don't spend the entire time double-guessing and testing the other's affection for them. The author does a good job in creating sympathy for all the characters, not just the protagonists but also those that surround them and Tatiana's emotionally damaged family. This is possibly the only romance I have ever read which allowed the reader to empathise with the third member of the love triangle (Tatiana's sister, Dasha)and the 'villains' may not be likeable but they are understandable.
I have heard other readers complaining that the couple are typical 'Mary-Sues' but despite their overwhelmingly good natures they are significantly flawed enough to make for interesting reading.Read more ›
Forget all the cynical reviews re: historical facts! Who cares what year the Germans started using Tiger tanks! The only important facts in this book are the love between Tatiana and Alexander which could be felt through every single page from the moment they met. I have cried endless tears through it all and it became so much a part of my life that my "Alexander" and I will be going to St Petersburg to experience the White Nights of the city and to gaze upon the statue of THE BRONZE HORSEMAN.
Paulina Simons is the most gifted writer I have come across in a while. Having read "Girl in Times Square" three times I decided to buy all of her books that she has written.
Her characters come so vividly to life in every book.
This is certainly NOT the best book ever written, ALL of them are !!!!
But be aware that your life will come to a standstill until you have finished reding them all !!!
The romantic element of the novel excels, as I have said, because of the two central lovers. They are complemented by a surrounding cast of believable and carefully drawn characters, who make the whole personnel of the story very convincing. The plot is also very well crafted, and while it does dwell significantly on the very dark days of the Leningrad siege, it also includes a period of almost idyllic escapism which tempers and balances the horrors of the depiction of the war. Both elements are essential to the story being told, and give excellent structure to the plot.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The first half of the book was very boring couldn't wait to finish the book and be done with it. The way she showed us how it all began and what people went through during those... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Kamila
Warning - contains small spoilers towards the end, but don't know how to review the book without them. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Kate Hopkins
This is an amazing story with heartbreak and humour and it's all there everything you can imaging and more definitely give it a goPublished 1 month ago by T
This is the kind of book you can't put down and don't want to end. It builds up so well that you really feel invested. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ms. Hannah E. Willis
No words can describe the experience this book gave and continues to give me. Thank you Paulina, for Tatiana and Alexander.Published 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
I stuck with it to the end but only because it seems rude not to finish a book. I love a long book but only if it's packed full of interest. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I can't believe how much this book affected me. I woke my husband up during many nights due to the sobbing noises I made. No book has ever made me smile, laugh and cry more. Read morePublished 5 months ago by justjaney
I am absolutely enthralled with this deeply emotional and moving book. I cannot stop reading it, I have had a few days off and it's been with me morning, noon and night. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Nelly