I am going to post the synopsis of all three books here.
The Bronze Horseman
During the summer of 1941 the Metanov family are living a hard life in Leningrad. As the German armies advance their future looks bleak. For Tatiana, love arrives in the guise of Alexander, who harbours a deadly and extraordinary secret.
Tatiana and Alexander
Tatiana is eighteen years old, pregnant, and widowed when she escapes war-torn Leningrad to find a new life in America. But the ghosts of her past do not rest easily. She becomes consumed by the belief that her husband, Red Army officer Alexander Belov, is still alive and needs her desperately.
Meanwhile, oceans and continents away in the Soviet Union, Alexander barely escapes execution, and is forced to lead a battalion of soldiers considered expendable by the Soviet high command. Yet Alexander is determined to take his men through the ruins of Europe in one last desperate bid to escape Stalin’s death machine and somehow find his way to Tatiana once again.
The Summer Garden
The Magnificent Conclusion to the Timeless Epic Saga
Through years of war and devastation, Tatiana and Alexander suffered the worst the twentieth century had to offer. Miraculously reunited in America, they now have a beautiful son, Anthony, the gift of a love strong enough to survive the most terrible upheavals. Though they are still young, the ordeals they endured have changed them–and after living apart in a world laid waste, they must now find a way to live together in postwar America.
With the Cold War rising, dark forces at work in their adopted country threaten their lives, their family, and their hard-won peace. To regain the happiness they once knew, to wash away the lingering pain of the past, two lovers grown distant must somehow forge a new life . . .or watch the ghosts of their yesterdays destroy their firstborn son.
The Summer Garden . . . their odyssey is just beginning
It all started with a friend of mine reading a story I penned and said I need to bring a little emotion into it. To give me an idea of what she meant, she recommended me a book; The Bronze Horseman.
Because I already have a too full TBR, I did not take her recommendation seriously but she was adamant that I read it. Finally giving in, I asked her if she had a copy I could borrow. She did not and referred me to another friend who I came to know was an equally big fan of the book. And she was the one who told me it is not just one book but a trilogy. She also told me that with this trilogy, I was in for an amazing roller-coaster of a ride.
With the trilogy on my Kindle app, I was at it.
Beware, there are spoilers on this review but that will not diminish anything from when you go and read the trilogy for yourself.
Before I begin with the review let me tell you that you may feel it is all haphazard but there are jumps of present and past and I made my notes as I read so please bear with me here but if you read the books you will know exactly what I mean even I make a jumbled mess of it in here in this review. But before all that, I am going to give you a glimpse into the character with one or two liners.
Tatiana: She is one of the sweetest and the most loyal person you will probably ever read about. She makes mistakes and learns from them.
Alexander: He is brave, courageous and ambitious. A loyal man who does not break his promises. All macho, he wants his woman to do as he says. He, too, learns from his mistakes.
Dasha: Personification of a dumb blonde. Way worse than that actually.
Dimitri: A self serving douche of a man who would not recognise loyalty even if it smacked him in the face.
Tatiana’s parents: Irresponsible parents. At least to Tatiana who was an unwanted child.
To begin with, the names were so very difficult. As if trying to figure out how they were pronounced was not enough, there were nicknames. Already designated nicknames for every given name and you choose nickname based on the level of the strength of the relationship between two people. Not only that, your surname’s spelling and pronunciation changed based on your gender. For example (and this is from the book), Tatiana Metanova and Pasha Metanov.
The Russians are complicated people, really. Uff.
The characters themselves are complicated. Nothing is black and white when it comes to any of the characters in the book. There are many dimensions and many layers to everyone. Even minor characters. I really loved this part because that is one of those things that made this book be closer to reality because real people are complicated and nothing could ever be bifurcated in just black and white.
The way the author shows the lives of the characters I understand how and why they behaved a certain way even when I hated them for what they did.
Basically this is Tatiana and Alexander’s story.
Tatiana and Alexander who meet on the first day of World War II when Russia was under attack by Hitler’s forces. A soldier (Captain) and an almost seventeen year old girl. Alexander himself is not that old. The day they meet he is only twenty two. Way younger than my age right now.
In the starting of the book it felt as if I have opened a young adult book or a coming of age story but I was made to revise opinion real fast as I continued reading. It was a book that showed life. A life and all its miseries and its happiness. It also showed the importance of familial bonds and relationships.
Especially the emotions ran high. So strong in fact that as a reader I could not help but feel the emotions myself.
As for the story, there is a love triangle between Tatiana, Alexander and Dasha. I am not going to go into a lot of detail here but Dasha is Tatiana’s older sister and she loves Alexander too. Before meeting our enticing heroine, Tatiana, Alexander, like any romance hero, was a playboy and had met Dasha at bars and she fell in love with him. He did not even care for her to begin with. Then he meets Tatiana on a bus stop and all bets are off. It is love at first sight. For both of them actually. But circumstances have them realise that Dasha and Tatiana both love the same man which results in Tatiana having Alexander promise that we will be with Dasha and never break her sister’s heart.
Officially the man was with one girl but he was with another when no one was looking. This moral roulette that they played had me disturbed. I totally believed that they should have told her family how everything was and Dasha would have probably understood too (seems unlikely) seeing how the emphasise was always put on Dasha’s love for Tatiana while everyone doted on Tatiana’s twin brother, Pasha.
But then again, with that done the way I had wanted would not have given the same depth to the story and a lot of things would never have happened.
Tatiana and Alexander kept on meeting and kept on being in love and trying to hide that love from anyone that might be looking. One of them being Dimitri, Alexander’s fellow soldier and a so called friend who was nothing but a selfish douche.
Dasha is always there embarrassing and humiliating her younger sister in front of the man she loves because, in my opinion, somewhere deep down she saw and understood that it was Tatiana that Alexander loved and not her. And she being in love with the man was in those moments a jealous lover and not a loving sister. The author has never said any such thing and it is completely my opinion.
As I mentioned previously, the story begins on the first day of the war and to save their son from being forced into the Red Army, Tatiana’s and Pasha’s father decides to send his son to boy’s camp. Away from the city. Away from the war and away from him being snatched into the Red Army. He does that against the wishes of his son and a few of his family. This resulted in Tatiana hearing her parents say that if there existed a God, why could He not have taken Tatiana and spared their son when the Red Army communicated that the area of the camp was bombed and there were no survivors.
And this heartbroken girl goes into the mist of war to see if she can find the brother her parents want more than her. I wanted to kill them at this point. Living in the society I do, I have seen this attitude of preferring a son over daughter for any every reason too many times to count. At times one wonders would it have been better if the custom of killing a baby girl continued? Surely, that would have been better than dying everyday because you are not considered a person but a thing.
Things continue and Dasha was being such a bitch about it that all she was worried about was, was romance when her brother had just died and her sister lay dying in a hospital bed. I wanted to smack her head and then strangle the woman. I hated her that much. If she were not a character on pages, I may as well have murdered her. On one hand there is a girl who is sacrificing her only love so that her sister does not suffer heartbreak and then there is this woman who won’t let go of even one moment without being a selfish, self serving ______ (fill that up with whatever bad word you can come up with).
I have placed Tatiana’s family on top of Umbridge on the list of characters I hate. On top of Umbridge speaks a lot if you know what I mean.
Because we are talking communism, living space is limited and Dasha and Tatiana share a room and a bed. When Alexander comes calling this douchebag of a woman tells her younger sister to go sit on the roof of the building in bloody freezing weather so that she can have sex with him in that bed. I figured out later that Alexander did not have sex with her but thinking about the little girl in the freezing cold thinking about what may or may not be happening in her room, in her bed was so heartbreaking. Imagining someone you love from the depths of your heart being intimate with someone just about stops you breathing. And there is this girl being subjected to it on an almost daily basis. I cried for her so much. Even as I write this, I got teary eyed for all what Tatiana suffered.
With the blockade of Leningrad (present day St Petersburg), life becomes unbearable as there is no food coming into the city and the rations are reduced. Alexander being a soldier gets more ration which he shares with Tatiana’s family because he is betrothed to Dasha. Yes, I understand your confusion. But he is bringing the food for the girl he loves because he, too, can see that her family is a bunch of self serving people who are more than happy to sit and order her around to do all the chores around the rooms they live in and go get grocery on the ration card for the entire family while the enemy bombed the city. It’s apparently too cold for them to get out of their beds. Complete douches.
One by one her family dies of malnutrition just like other people in Russia, Dying on the streets, in their beds, at work, etc. One moment walking past someone and in another moment lying dead somewhere. The scenarios shown actually gave me goosebumps.
All the hardships that I read and pictured in my mind of during that time gave me the chills and I wanted to prostrate in front of Almighty that I have not been made to suffer thus. All of it made me see the small things in my life that me and all of us take for granted.
Somehow Alexander gets these two sisters, the only surviving members of a family of nine to somehow move out of the city and Dasha could not make it through it. Tough deaths are sad, in my heart I said ‘good riddance’ for this one. For even in her dying moments, she could not help but taunt the sister that Alexander loved Dasha and not Tatiana when she knew of the sacrifices her baby sister has made for her. I just don’t know how could she do that. I have not one but three baby sisters and I can’t even imagine doing such a thing to them. I’d choose death over hurting them that way. Not that I don’t fight with them or tease them and all other things but God forbid if I make them suffer knowingly. How could this woman do that to a sister she always called her baby is beyond my powers of understanding. And no, nothing in the world can make this right for me.
When Alexander after months goes looking for these two, he finds his girl healthy and he can’t contain his happiness. I guess even he is glad that Dasha is dead and he could freely be with the one he loves with his heart and soul. With Dasha out of the picture he was free of the promise Tatiana had him make.
And they get married. ❤
But the happiness is short lived as a soldier has to return after the leave. After all there is a war going on!
But this determined woman follows her husband back to Leningrad because she could not live with herself if something happened to him. Love does make one do things that logic cannot justify.
They find each other and they live together but Dimitri the douche is there too. He wants Tatiana only because he sees that Alexander feels something for him. Well… our soldier is sent to fight and his wife, a trained nurse by now, goes to the front with the Red Cross team and tells him of her plan to go to America. Yes, our hero is an American and not a Russian. But Dimitri tells on them and now both their lives are forfeit.
He plans with an American doctor to save the life of his now pregnant wife and goes to face death but luckily survives the wrath of the Russian Army. While he is sent back to lead a battalion at the front, Tatiana believing that she is a widow goes on her own journey to achieve what her dead husband was rendered incapable of.
In the land of opportunity and hope, also called America, she gives birth to a son and makes a life for herself but keeps mourning for her dead husband for years. After being urged by friends for years she thinks of a life with another man and as fate would have it, she found out her husband might indeed be alive and need rescuing.
Leaving her son with a friend, the woman goes back to Russia to get back the man she loves knowing well that she may not be able to return herself and will leave her son an orphan. But, as I have said previously love takes away the aid of logic. Love, instead, empowers you with a conviction of a better tomorrow. With that hope in her heart, this slip of a woman gets her husband from Russia and they build a life in America.
This period of living happily ever after was not as easy as it is made to sound. There are issues and obstacles that both have to work around.
Those are stories in themselves as well.
Both of them end up cheating on each other but realise in time to save their relationship. I wanted to smack them both on their heads at that time. Imagine going to lengths of hardship for someone you love from the depths of your soul and then doing something that has the power of killing the heart you love and destroying the soul that was shared with you.
Oh, did I mention that their only son at the moment is a complete brat.
Tatiana and Alexander needed that cheating part (yes, I hate saying it) to realise how they were hurting each other and that they had to bring about a change in themselves to get things to work out.
Their lives improve and their happiness knows no bounds as their family grows and they prosper.
But then the brat of a son had to muck everything. Following in his father’s footsteps who was given a place in the American Army as a Major, joined the Army going against the wishes of his parents. But then that was his life and he had all the right to decide for himself but the brat did it to rub it in their faces as if they had not suffer for a lifetime and some already!
He does some stupidty and then his father has to go save his hide and finally he realises what a brat he has been and reforms himself.
Finally, Tatiana and Alexander get to live a peaceful life to the rip old age of almost hundred with many generations to coddle and love.
I did not want their story to end but if it would have continued their misery would not have ended and I did not want these two to suffer anymore.
Definitely give it a read for a roller-coaster of a ride that leaves you feeling so much that you become one with the story.