This is a book that has been suggested to me multiple times since I joined bookstagram. How could I not (finally) get on board? I do have a weakness for WWII historical fictions as you may have picked up by now. This story follows Tatiana and Alexander, who meet on the day war is declared in Russia. Alexander is an officer in the Russian Army with a deadly secret. Tatiana is an inexperienced seventeen year old about to embark on her first job. Their lives are change forever by the war as they fight for their relationship, which has several, rather large, hurdles. The war may be the least of their concerns.
This book got off to a slightly bumpy start for me. Tatiana frustrated me early on with some very poor decisions that seemed a little much even for a girl of seventeen. Thankfully, she redeems herself with a lot of character growth and self-awareness as the war and her relationship with Alexander progresses. I instantly fell for the two lovers. Their instant connection and devotion to each other is beautiful and you find yourself investing in their future and cursing all their hurdles. I was caught out reading way past my bedtime the first night I started it and the few that followed.
There are definite flaws in the novel, reviews on this book are very mixed. I can appreciate why people may not have fallen in love with it. There appears to be some inconsistencies in Tatiana and Alexanders relationship at times in the early stages. Their feelings towards each other switch back and forth a little too much. Not to mention by the ned of the book I was sick of reading their same argument over and over again (was the book just highlighting how realistic the feeling is?) but I found myself skimming their last few arguments. I also would have liked to see a little more depth to Tatiana’s family members. They are portrayed very superficially and quite negatively as the chapter progress, I’m assuming to increase sympathy for the young lovers. However, I would have preferred a few more shades of grey in their personalities. Rather than her mother and fathering cruel or her sister being stupid I would have liked to see more to these characters, more reason behind their actions. These flaws are reduced to fleeting thoughts due to irresistible lure of young love and devotions amidst war-torn Russia and ultimately did not stop me from becoming entranced with the story. Simons is skilled at developing a complex, layered relationship that has you emotionally invested from the beginning.
I also enjoyed learning about communist Russia. How people lived, the communal living in particular. The danger of the NKVD, the secret police, there to search out anyone not 100% loyal to Mother Russia. It is a fascinating setting and I would love to read more about their way of life back then. I have to admit I found the book quite long in the second half, wondering when it would finish. As much as i did enjoy this book I would almost be reluctant to pick up the following books. Tatiana and Alexander have had enough heartache for one life time and I can only imagine it will continue from there.
Overall this was a very enjoyable book. Pick it up if you enjoy a beautiful blossoming romance despite all odds with a touch of erotic action. The blissful ignorance in the early stages of their friendship before the war really took hold was intoxicating to read. I also think Dimitri has a special place in hell with Dolores Umbridge for my most hated villains. Nothing like a good bad guy to spice things up. It was definitely a conflicting book in my eyes but a great read nonetheless. I give The Bronze Horseman three of the ever ominous bombs raining down from the war.