20 February 2015

Review: THE BRONZE HORSEMAN, Paullina Simons

  • published by Harper Collins 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-00-790467-9
  • 637 pages
  • from my local library
Synopsis (author website)

Leningrad 1941: the white nights of summer illuminate a city of fallen grandeur whose beautiful palaces and stately avenues speak of a different age, when Leningrad was known as St Petersburg.

Two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha, share the same bed, living in one room with their brother and parents. It is a hard, impoverished life, yet the Metanovs know many who are not as fortunate as they.

The family routine is shattered on 22 June 1941 when Hitler invades Russia. For the Metanovs, for Leningrad and for Tatiana, life will never be the same again. On the fateful day, Tatiana meets a brash young officer named Alexander.

Tatiana and her family suffer as Hitler’s army advances on Leningrad, and the Russian winter closes in. With bombs falling and the city under siege, Tatiana and Alexander are drawn to each other in an impossible love. It is a love that could tear Tatiana’s family apart, a love that carries a secret that could mean death for anyone who hears it.

Confronted on the one hand by Hitler’s unstoppable war machine, and on the other by a Soviet system determined to crush the human spirit, Tatiana and Alexander are pitted against the very tide of history, at a turning point in the century that made the modern world.

Mesmerizing from the very first page to the final, breathtaking end, The Bronze Horseman brings alive the story of two indomitable, heroic spirits and their great love that triumphs over the devastation of a country at war.

My Take

Do you feel obliged to finish a book, once started? One of the hardest things I find is to stop reading a book when I am not finding it a satisfying read.

Had THE BRONZE HORSEMAN been shorter (I got to page 187), or had it had more mystery about its plot, or had I been younger, I might have finished it. I am more than willing to believe that it may well be another's cup of tea, just not mine.

The Metanov family are in Leningrad, fighting in their own way for Mother Russia as Hitler's forces advance steadily towards the city. Pasha, the 17 year old son, and Tatiana's twin, disappears from a boy's holiday camp near Novgorod where his father has sent him. The family are living in squalid conditions when a Red Army officer Alexander enters their lives. Tatiana's older sister appropriates him, and so a love triangle develops.

And that's where I stopped. I have no doubt that the historical detail is what will attract some readers, while the romance will captivate others. Just not me. It was part of an attempt to read a book that is NOT crime fiction.

My Rating: 2.0


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kerrie, for your candor. The history part may be of interest, but if there's not enough to really one engaged in the story... no thanks.

Rick Robinson said...

I have a pretty hard and fast rule: If I'm not enjoying a book at page 30 I'll decide, to continue or stop. If I continue I'll read on to page 50 or so, and if I'm still not caught up in the book I stop reading, declare it a Did Not Finish (DNF) for my record of what I read, and go on to a (hopefully) better book.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I used to think if I start a book then I'd finish it. But not any more, there are so many books I'll enjoy so why read one that's not satisfying. It's easier of course if it's a library book and I often borrow books just to see what they're like and don't bother about taking them back unread if they don't appeal.


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