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The Bronze Horseman: A Novel Hardcover – May 22, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in her native St. Petersburg, Russia, Simons's latest thick novel (after Tully, etc.) focuses on a WWII love affair. As the story opens, Tatiana, the youngest member of the Metanova family, is just 17; she still shares a bed with her older sister, Dasha. Not long after the country goes to war with Germany, Tatiana meets Alexander, a soldier, and sparks fly. It turns out, however, that Alexander is the same soldier Dasha has been crowing about. Possessed of a strong sense of family loyalty, and living under conditions that permit no privacy, Tatiana refuses to interfere with her sister's happiness, but the attraction between Tatiana and Alexander proves too powerful. Complicating matters, another soldier, Dimitri, has information that could destroy Alexander, and Dimitri likes Tatiana, too. In order to protect both Dasha's feelings and Alexander's life, the star-crossed lovers become part of a deceptive quadrangle as war intensifies around them. Taking her title from a tragic poem by Alexandr Pushkin, Simons skillfully highlights the ironies of the socialist utopia. Despite the novel's sprawling length and its seemingly epic scope, the nearly single-minded focus on dialogue between Tatiana and Alexander leaves other character development shortchanged and the reader with the impression of a peculiarly tiny canvas. Nave and occupying the Cinderella role in her family, Tatiana is certainly a survivor though one who finally outstays her welcome. While her love story is often both tender and fierce, it is also overwrought and prolonged past the breaking point. (June)Forecast: An advertising blitz, five-city author tour and glamorous jacket may distract readers from the novel's shortcomings and ensure short-term success (foreign rights have been sold in 10 countries), but this is not the Russian Thorn Birds the publisher hopes it will be.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In 1941 Leningrad, two sisters share everything including a passion for Red Army officer Alexander. Simons, the author of Tully and other titles, was born and raised in St. Petersburg.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (May 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060199261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060199265
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (867 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paullina Simons is the author of the acclaimed novels Tully, Red Leaves, and Eleven Hours as well as the Bronze Horseman Trilogy. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, she graduated from The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, and has lived in Rome, London, and Dallas. She currently lives near New York City with her husband and most of her children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Jana L. Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 10, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Bronze Horseman" is more than a beautiful love story set against the backdrop of WWII Leningrad, where author Paullina Simons was born and raised. Ms. Simons portrays here, with great sensitivity and realism, the terrible suffering that the citizens of Leningrad experienced during the Nazi siege and their struggle to survive. She also probes the intricacies of family relationships, the ties that bind, especially in times of terrible hardship. Simons alludes frequently to Alexander Pushkin's tragic epic poem, "The Bronze Horseman," from which this novel takes its title.
Seventeen year old Tatiana Metanova was wearing her "splendid white dress with red roses" and enjoying an ice cream cone when she looked up and saw a soldier staring at her with "an expression she had never seen before." Thus begins the intense and complex relationship between Tatiana and her Alexander (Shura) Belov, a First Lieutenant in the Soviet Army. Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin's Foreign Minister, had announced the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union only a few hours before the two young people meet for the first time.
Tatiana lives in a tiny two room flat with her sister and best friend Dasha, her twin brother, parents and grandparents. Her sense of family is very strong, especially since she has never had a truly close relationship with anyone other than her kin. When Tatiana brings Alexander home for the first time she discovers that her sister Dasha had already met him in a club and had bragged about him as her new boyfriend. Dasha takes what had been a casual romance very seriously and believes she is in love. Alexander does not reciprocate her feelings, however. Tatiana has been very sheltered by her family and is quite naive and very innocent.
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194 of 230 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on April 23, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I like it when people recommend books for me to read. Quite a lot of people have recommended "The Bronze Horseman" for me, and because I like big, epic stories a while ago I put it in my stack and a few days ago I tried to read it. Notice the word tried.

This is a book that could have been great. The premis is great-love triangle between two sisters and a soldier during the siege of St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad) with secrets on the soldier, is nearly classic. Tatiana and her older sister Dasha live together with their parents and grandparents, and Tatiana's twin brother in two bedrooms and Tatiana had just turned 17 when she and Alexander meet in a romance filled haze. War against Germany was announced only a few hours before and Tatiana is supposed to be buying food for her family-but it's nearly impossible to find. Alexander helps her buy food at the army supply store and he and his creepy friend Dimitri carry them home for her. But it turns out that Dasha already knew Alexander and thinks she's in love with him.

Tatiana, not wanting to hurt her sister, refuses to stand up for her relationship with Alexander, which continues to advance in secret through the siege. The rest of the novel is hardship and terrible times-people surviving on no food with no heat and bombs bursting overhead all the time. The author manages to capture the desperation and the terrible, tired acceptance of the war conditions in the city very well.

But her writing style is so annoying! I have never, ever, read a book that had as much day to day detail as this one did. You could almost pull out a calendar and write down what the family ate for each meal, each day, for months. I never knew so much about Russian food before-anfd I'm half Russian!
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53 of 61 people found the following review helpful By SusieQ on February 22, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
How can I not give a novel that kept me up until 3:30 a.m. (and not later than that only because I finally fell asleep over the book) five stars? [And started me reading it again by 9:00 next day?]

It's not a perfect novel. I could wish that the author had developed the pathos of Dasha's situation more: in love with Alexander, and never realizing that he actually loved her sister, until the last days of her life. The reader's only given tiny hints of the reasons why Tania loves her sister enough to sacrifice her love for Alexander to her; aside from these hints, Dasha comes across as a selfish and empty character. Also, I never believed that Dasha really "loved" Alexander; from the first instant, it simply seemed liked she had an infatuation that would ultimately pass if he'd only stopped seeing her altogether!

The emotional flatness of most of the people around Tatiana & Alexander makes a reader work at filling in their backstories. For instance, Tania's mother makes a brief mention of Dasha's reaction to Tania's and her twin brother's birth: Dasha says that the parents could keep the boy (who, indeed, they favor) but that Tania was Dasha's baby. From that hint, a reader has to imagine a whole backstory of Dasha's protectiveness & love of Tania; a background which we are just not given. If this little hint had been explored, then Tania's sacrifice (concealing her love for Alexander, and tolerating his relationship with Dasha) would make that much more sense. As it is, the reader is frustrated by it, because the Dasha depicted here is just not worth that kind of sacrifice.
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