dangermousie: (Default)
So, apparently Paullina Simons is writing a book about Alexander's parents (it's kinda cool she seems to find leaving the Tatiana and Alexander world as much as I do).

Hmmmm.

Now, I am sure it will be excellently-written. Anything of hers is. I am not sure how excited I am by this, however. It's not even about the fact that we already know the outcome - they both get executed. It's more that I truly dislike them. Whatever they were when they were younger, by the end they barely have a marriage, she's an utter alcoholic and he's worse. And even more importantly, perhaps this is the result of my Soviet childhood speaking, but any man who chooses, in the 1920s, to uproot his family from America where he has a comfortable middle-class existence, to Stalin's USSR, is a lunatic that deserves whatever he gets, except for the fact that his lunacy dooms the innocents he dragged with him. Every horrible, awful thing that happened to Alexander is his father's fault. (Though I suppose if he wasn't around, Tatiana would have died in the bombings or starved during the siege, so there is that...)

Plus, I lose interest when the story veers from our couple. The lat third of The Summer Garden, after they had a bunch of kids, I totally lost interest when the story got into their kids and things. I mean, I am happy they have a large family to replace being utterly alone in the world, but I don't really care about the details of the kids' lives or Anthony's tour of Vietnam or whatever.

So we'll see.
dangermousie: (Default)
So, apparently Paullina Simons is writing a book about Alexander's parents (it's kinda cool she seems to find leaving the Tatiana and Alexander world as much as I do).

Hmmmm.

Now, I am sure it will be excellently-written. Anything of hers is. I am not sure how excited I am by this, however. It's not even about the fact that we already know the outcome - they both get executed. It's more that I truly dislike them. Whatever they were when they were younger, by the end they barely have a marriage, she's an utter alcoholic and he's worse. And even more importantly, perhaps this is the result of my Soviet childhood speaking, but any man who chooses, in the 1920s, to uproot his family from America where he has a comfortable middle-class existence, to Stalin's USSR, is a lunatic that deserves whatever he gets, except for the fact that his lunacy dooms the innocents he dragged with him. Every horrible, awful thing that happened to Alexander is his father's fault. (Though I suppose if he wasn't around, Tatiana would have died in the bombings or starved during the siege, so there is that...)

Plus, I lose interest when the story veers from our couple. The lat third of The Summer Garden, after they had a bunch of kids, I totally lost interest when the story got into their kids and things. I mean, I am happy they have a large family to replace being utterly alone in the world, but I don't really care about the details of the kids' lives or Anthony's tour of Vietnam or whatever.

So we'll see.
dangermousie: (Default)
So, apparently Paullina Simons is writing a book about Alexander's parents (it's kinda cool she seems to find leaving the Tatiana and Alexander world as much as I do).

Hmmmm.

Now, I am sure it will be excellently-written. Anything of hers is. I am not sure how excited I am by this, however. It's not even about the fact that we already know the outcome - they both get executed. It's more that I truly dislike them. Whatever they were when they were younger, by the end they barely have a marriage, she's an utter alcoholic and he's worse. And even more importantly, perhaps this is the result of my Soviet childhood speaking, but any man who chooses, in the 1920s, to uproot his family from America where he has a comfortable middle-class existence, to Stalin's USSR, is a lunatic that deserves whatever he gets, except for the fact that his lunacy dooms the innocents he dragged with him. Every horrible, awful thing that happened to Alexander is his father's fault. (Though I suppose if he wasn't around, Tatiana would have died in the bombings or starved during the siege, so there is that...)

Plus, I lose interest when the story veers from our couple. The lat third of The Summer Garden, after they had a bunch of kids, I totally lost interest when the story got into their kids and things. I mean, I am happy they have a large family to replace being utterly alone in the world, but I don't really care about the details of the kids' lives or Anthony's tour of Vietnam or whatever.

So we'll see.
dangermousie: (HYD: Rui book)
I have been obsessively rereading Paullina Simons' Tatiana and Alexander trilogy (The Bronze Horseman, The Bridge to Holy Cross (also known as Tatiana & Alexander), and The Summer Garden). If I make a list of my top 10 books, this trilogy would definitely be on it (hmmm, perhaps I should make a list). I am a coward so on reread I skip all the starvation during the siege of Leningrad scenes and Tatiana's family dying as well as most of the scenes with Alexander in the penal batallion/prison.

I own these books in paper copy (for permanence) and on kindle (for easy access). Addiction!

Ahhh, how can I not love it? It's pretty much the ultimate in epic love story. Have a passage (stolen from a tumblr):

Quote here )

Also, apparently people make vids for it. Not sure how one can make a vid for a book but people do, with various actors, all of which confirms my belief that I don't want to see these books as a movie because it will never match what's in my head.

I am also reading Gayle Forman's Where She Went, which is sort of a Before Sunrise (one of my favorite movies, with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) set in New York. It's supposed to be YA but I honestly don't think it should be. Adam is a young but burned-out rocker and Mia is a rising classical musician. They used to date but have not seen each other in three years, their relationship disintegrating in the aftermath of a horrific car crash that injured Mia and killed the rest of her family (this is a sequel to If I Stay, which deals with the crash, but I am staying away from that one because I have my depressing book threshold. Said the girl that is rereading a trilogy large chunk of which deals with starvation and prison camps. WSW can be read alone).

When the story opens, Adam should be on top of the world, but instead he is barely holding on - permanently one step away from a panic attack, bitter, locked down. He can barely get through the day. Mia's leaving seems to have damaged an essential part of him that never got fixed. And then he walks by the hall where she is giving a concert and, on impulse, buys a ticket. Mia invites him backstage and, somehow, they decide to spend an evening together, before they have to fly to their different destination. They spend all of it talking and the book goes back and forth between the present and three years ago, and the events that led to her leaving him.

It's a gorgeous gorgeous book and I love it. I wallowed in the emo and the hope and (no spoiler, I assume, for anyone who knows how books work) the happy ending. So good! Go read!
dangermousie: (HYD: Rui book)
I have been obsessively rereading Paullina Simons' Tatiana and Alexander trilogy (The Bronze Horseman, The Bridge to Holy Cross (also known as Tatiana & Alexander), and The Summer Garden). If I make a list of my top 10 books, this trilogy would definitely be on it (hmmm, perhaps I should make a list). I am a coward so on reread I skip all the starvation during the siege of Leningrad scenes and Tatiana's family dying as well as most of the scenes with Alexander in the penal batallion/prison.

I own these books in paper copy (for permanence) and on kindle (for easy access). Addiction!

Ahhh, how can I not love it? It's pretty much the ultimate in epic love story. Have a passage (stolen from a tumblr):

Quote here )

Also, apparently people make vids for it. Not sure how one can make a vid for a book but people do, with various actors, all of which confirms my belief that I don't want to see these books as a movie because it will never match what's in my head.

I am also reading Gayle Forman's Where She Went, which is sort of a Before Sunrise (one of my favorite movies, with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) set in New York. It's supposed to be YA but I honestly don't think it should be. Adam is a young but burned-out rocker and Mia is a rising classical musician. They used to date but have not seen each other in three years, their relationship disintegrating in the aftermath of a horrific car crash that injured Mia and killed the rest of her family (this is a sequel to If I Stay, which deals with the crash, but I am staying away from that one because I have my depressing book threshold. Said the girl that is rereading a trilogy large chunk of which deals with starvation and prison camps. WSW can be read alone).

When the story opens, Adam should be on top of the world, but instead he is barely holding on - permanently one step away from a panic attack, bitter, locked down. He can barely get through the day. Mia's leaving seems to have damaged an essential part of him that never got fixed. And then he walks by the hall where she is giving a concert and, on impulse, buys a ticket. Mia invites him backstage and, somehow, they decide to spend an evening together, before they have to fly to their different destination. They spend all of it talking and the book goes back and forth between the present and three years ago, and the events that led to her leaving him.

It's a gorgeous gorgeous book and I love it. I wallowed in the emo and the hope and (no spoiler, I assume, for anyone who knows how books work) the happy ending. So good! Go read!
dangermousie: (HYD: Rui book)
I have been obsessively rereading Paullina Simons' Tatiana and Alexander trilogy (The Bronze Horseman, The Bridge to Holy Cross (also known as Tatiana & Alexander), and The Summer Garden). If I make a list of my top 10 books, this trilogy would definitely be on it (hmmm, perhaps I should make a list). I am a coward so on reread I skip all the starvation during the siege of Leningrad scenes and Tatiana's family dying as well as most of the scenes with Alexander in the penal batallion/prison.

I own these books in paper copy (for permanence) and on kindle (for easy access). Addiction!

Ahhh, how can I not love it? It's pretty much the ultimate in epic love story. Have a passage (stolen from a tumblr):

Quote here )

Also, apparently people make vids for it. Not sure how one can make a vid for a book but people do, with various actors, all of which confirms my belief that I don't want to see these books as a movie because it will never match what's in my head.

I am also reading Gayle Forman's Where She Went, which is sort of a Before Sunrise (one of my favorite movies, with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) set in New York. It's supposed to be YA but I honestly don't think it should be. Adam is a young but burned-out rocker and Mia is a rising classical musician. They used to date but have not seen each other in three years, their relationship disintegrating in the aftermath of a horrific car crash that injured Mia and killed the rest of her family (this is a sequel to If I Stay, which deals with the crash, but I am staying away from that one because I have my depressing book threshold. Said the girl that is rereading a trilogy large chunk of which deals with starvation and prison camps. WSW can be read alone).

When the story opens, Adam should be on top of the world, but instead he is barely holding on - permanently one step away from a panic attack, bitter, locked down. He can barely get through the day. Mia's leaving seems to have damaged an essential part of him that never got fixed. And then he walks by the hall where she is giving a concert and, on impulse, buys a ticket. Mia invites him backstage and, somehow, they decide to spend an evening together, before they have to fly to their different destination. They spend all of it talking and the book goes back and forth between the present and three years ago, and the events that led to her leaving him.

It's a gorgeous gorgeous book and I love it. I wallowed in the emo and the hope and (no spoiler, I assume, for anyone who knows how books work) the happy ending. So good! Go read!
dangermousie: (IRIS by loubox)
I am in week 2 of my drama slump, which is pretty unprecedented for me (I don't remember the last time I went two weeks without a drama). I do have Boku To Star No 99 Nichi first ep with subs - it's a jdrama with Kim Tae Hee as an actress and Nishijima Hidetoshi as her bodyguard. Maybe it will break the drought. I think The Princess' Man has ruined me for all other dramas for a while. I really need to post caps of the last two eps. Hmmm, maybe I really should give Tree with Deep Roots a chance and finally get to Man of Honor.

Meanwhile, I've been watching the second season of Boardwalk Empire with Mr. Mousie (I don't post about it much because I get all the discussion I want with him, but it's my favorite airing show) and checking out the pilot for Revenge - not bad, if possibly a bit too OC-with-vengeance so far to really make me rabid. Also has this:



Mmmm. Kyle, you've grown up nice.

But what I've mainly been doing, was rereading Paullina Simons' WW2 trilogy - The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden. I think Tatiana and Alexander are my favorite literary OTP of all time, with the exception of Lymond and Philippa from Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles. Those books are so gorgeous and emotional, they make me want to both weep and roll around like a puppy in glee. I mean, see this:

Alexander moved her off him, laid her down, was over her, was pressed into her, crushing her. Anthony was right there, he didn't care, he was trying to inhale her, trying to absorb her into himself. "All this time you were stepping out in front of me, Tatiana," he said. "Now I finally understand. You hid me on Bethel Island for eight months. For two years you hid me and deceived me - to save me. I am such an idiot," he whispered. "Wretch or not, ravaged or not, in a carapace or not, there you still were, stepping out for me, showing the mute mangled stranger your brave and indifferent face."

Her eyes closed, her arms tightened around his neck. "That stranger is my life," she whispered. They crawled away from Anthony, from their only bed, onto a blanket on the floor, barricading themselves behind the table and chairs. "You left our boy to go find me, and this is what you found..." Alexander whispered, on top of her, pushing inside her, searching for peace.

Crying out underneath him, Tatiana clutched his shoulders.

"This is what you brought back from Sachsenhausen." his movement was tense, deep, needful.
Oh God. Now there was comfort. "You thought you were bringing back him, but Tania, you brought back me."

"Shura...you'll have to do..." Her fingers were clamped into his scars.

"In you," said Alexander, lowering his lips to her parted mouth and cleaving their flesh, "are the answers to all things."

All the rivers flowed into the sea and still the sea was not full.


Written for me. Just for me.

So yeah, dramas don't really satisfy after that.
dangermousie: (IRIS by loubox)
I am in week 2 of my drama slump, which is pretty unprecedented for me (I don't remember the last time I went two weeks without a drama). I do have Boku To Star No 99 Nichi first ep with subs - it's a jdrama with Kim Tae Hee as an actress and Nishijima Hidetoshi as her bodyguard. Maybe it will break the drought. I think The Princess' Man has ruined me for all other dramas for a while. I really need to post caps of the last two eps. Hmmm, maybe I really should give Tree with Deep Roots a chance and finally get to Man of Honor.

Meanwhile, I've been watching the second season of Boardwalk Empire with Mr. Mousie (I don't post about it much because I get all the discussion I want with him, but it's my favorite airing show) and checking out the pilot for Revenge - not bad, if possibly a bit too OC-with-vengeance so far to really make me rabid. Also has this:



Mmmm. Kyle, you've grown up nice.

But what I've mainly been doing, was rereading Paullina Simons' WW2 trilogy - The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden. I think Tatiana and Alexander are my favorite literary OTP of all time, with the exception of Lymond and Philippa from Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles. Those books are so gorgeous and emotional, they make me want to both weep and roll around like a puppy in glee. I mean, see this:

Alexander moved her off him, laid her down, was over her, was pressed into her, crushing her. Anthony was right there, he didn't care, he was trying to inhale her, trying to absorb her into himself. "All this time you were stepping out in front of me, Tatiana," he said. "Now I finally understand. You hid me on Bethel Island for eight months. For two years you hid me and deceived me - to save me. I am such an idiot," he whispered. "Wretch or not, ravaged or not, in a carapace or not, there you still were, stepping out for me, showing the mute mangled stranger your brave and indifferent face."

Her eyes closed, her arms tightened around his neck. "That stranger is my life," she whispered. They crawled away from Anthony, from their only bed, onto a blanket on the floor, barricading themselves behind the table and chairs. "You left our boy to go find me, and this is what you found..." Alexander whispered, on top of her, pushing inside her, searching for peace.

Crying out underneath him, Tatiana clutched his shoulders.

"This is what you brought back from Sachsenhausen." his movement was tense, deep, needful.
Oh God. Now there was comfort. "You thought you were bringing back him, but Tania, you brought back me."

"Shura...you'll have to do..." Her fingers were clamped into his scars.

"In you," said Alexander, lowering his lips to her parted mouth and cleaving their flesh, "are the answers to all things."

All the rivers flowed into the sea and still the sea was not full.


Written for me. Just for me.

So yeah, dramas don't really satisfy after that.
dangermousie: (IRIS by loubox)
I am in week 2 of my drama slump, which is pretty unprecedented for me (I don't remember the last time I went two weeks without a drama). I do have Boku To Star No 99 Nichi first ep with subs - it's a jdrama with Kim Tae Hee as an actress and Nishijima Hidetoshi as her bodyguard. Maybe it will break the drought. I think The Princess' Man has ruined me for all other dramas for a while. I really need to post caps of the last two eps. Hmmm, maybe I really should give Tree with Deep Roots a chance and finally get to Man of Honor.

Meanwhile, I've been watching the second season of Boardwalk Empire with Mr. Mousie (I don't post about it much because I get all the discussion I want with him, but it's my favorite airing show) and checking out the pilot for Revenge - not bad, if possibly a bit too OC-with-vengeance so far to really make me rabid. Also has this:



Mmmm. Kyle, you've grown up nice.

But what I've mainly been doing, was rereading Paullina Simons' WW2 trilogy - The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden. I think Tatiana and Alexander are my favorite literary OTP of all time, with the exception of Lymond and Philippa from Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles. Those books are so gorgeous and emotional, they make me want to both weep and roll around like a puppy in glee. I mean, see this:

Alexander moved her off him, laid her down, was over her, was pressed into her, crushing her. Anthony was right there, he didn't care, he was trying to inhale her, trying to absorb her into himself. "All this time you were stepping out in front of me, Tatiana," he said. "Now I finally understand. You hid me on Bethel Island for eight months. For two years you hid me and deceived me - to save me. I am such an idiot," he whispered. "Wretch or not, ravaged or not, in a carapace or not, there you still were, stepping out for me, showing the mute mangled stranger your brave and indifferent face."

Her eyes closed, her arms tightened around his neck. "That stranger is my life," she whispered. They crawled away from Anthony, from their only bed, onto a blanket on the floor, barricading themselves behind the table and chairs. "You left our boy to go find me, and this is what you found..." Alexander whispered, on top of her, pushing inside her, searching for peace.

Crying out underneath him, Tatiana clutched his shoulders.

"This is what you brought back from Sachsenhausen." his movement was tense, deep, needful.
Oh God. Now there was comfort. "You thought you were bringing back him, but Tania, you brought back me."

"Shura...you'll have to do..." Her fingers were clamped into his scars.

"In you," said Alexander, lowering his lips to her parted mouth and cleaving their flesh, "are the answers to all things."

All the rivers flowed into the sea and still the sea was not full.


Written for me. Just for me.

So yeah, dramas don't really satisfy after that.
dangermousie: (Default)
I have been completely enthralled, obsessed and consumed by The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons so I wanted to become a bit of a pusher for it.

What is it? TBH is a novel set around the harrowing siege of Leningrad during WW2 (for those who are unfamiliar with that part of history, the Germans besieged the city, which refused to surrender, and in the resulting siege, which lasted for two-and-a-half years (!!!!), over 1,500,000 people died).

If you are looking for a panoramic take on the siege and WW2 in the Soviet Union, you are better off reading non-fiction, to be honest. What TBH is - is an amazingly passionate and tender character study and love story. The characters who are being explored are Tatiana* Metanova, a 17-yr-old factory worker, eventual nurse, and Alexander Belov, a 22-yr-old officer in the Soviet Army. We are almost constantly in their heads (though the focus is primarily on Tanya) but I did not feel constrained by that focus - instead I couldn't get enough.

* I wonder if she's named Tatiana because of Tatiana Savicheva, a young girl who died of starvation and whose harrowing diary of Leningrad siege, was so famous.

The novel starts on June 21, 1941 - the day Hitler invaded USSR. It is also the day before Tanya's 17th birthday. She's part of a close, loving, though sometimes too constricting family, and as she is waiting to catch a bus, her gaze crosses with that of a young officer. They feel drawn to each other from that very first moment, and the novel's strength is convincing me of their unshakeable, unkillable bond - despite family complications, despite a secret of Alexander's past (not to spoil anything, but let's say a Soviet military tribunal would probably shoot him on the spot if they knew) and, of course, despite the horrors of war - the bombings, the starvation, the front line (Alexander fighting on it and Tanya being a nurse on the same). And despite their characters - they might love each other more than breathing but both are very strong and stubborn individuals who often cannot give an inch. Tanya starts the book as a shy, naive and very sheltered teen, a little solipsistic about her world and Alexander is overly contained and burned-out, but by the end of the book they have been transformed by their love and loss and horrors of war and Tanya becomes an amazing woman, making her own way, alone, across the frozen parts of Finland and Alexander finds both hope and humanity.

I have a confession - I usually cannot stand fiction about Russia written by non-Russians because it rings false. Yet I did not feel that sense of frustration at all here and was shocked, until I found out Ms. Simons was born and brought up in Leningrad and later immigrated with her family. That background informs a lot of the book - from familiarity with Leningrad streets, to the feel of Soviet reality, to the correct use of diminutives (you have no idea how happy I was to see the heroine, Tatiana, being addressed as Tanya, Tatya, Tanyushka etc and Alexander is often referred to as Shura). There are a few things that stick out a bit but they can be attributable to creating dramatic tension and are minor (e.g. I cannot imagine Tanya having her own hospital room when she broke her leg, but I can fanwank it as hospital being pretty empty due to evacuation and it's necessary for the scene that follows). I wonder if this book works for me so well because it's basically about my grandparents' generation - all of whom either fought in the war or were involved in the war effort (one of my great-uncles was one of the Soviet soldiers who took Berlin with his tank brigade). Maybe that is why I don't find the story far-fetched - I know some much more incredible than that.

But what works for me the most in the book is that it manages to convince me that Tanya and Shura's love really is that strong, that amazing, that desperate, that much greater than death. I can fully believe that she cannot breathe without him and that he would die for her without a second's hesitation. You have no idea how rare that is.

Apparently this has been optioned to be made into a movie but, frankly, I don't see how they will make it work - so much of the book's magic is in the writing and in being inside the characters' heads. Take that away and it becomes another epic wartime romance. There is nothing wrong with the latter but it's nowhere near as amazing as the book turned out to be.

I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel "Tatiana and Alexander" because I cannot get enough of them.

One note - I believe some people might find the language a bit overwrought or baroque. I don't, but Russian in general would be pretty baroque and overwrought by English standards (a common endearment is to call someone "my soul" or "my sun"). In any event, here is a small bit (from the sequel but the type of writing is the same) to determine if it works for you or doesn't:

"He is lying on dirty straw. He has been beaten so many times, his body is one bloodied bruise; he is filthy, he is hideous, he is a sinner and he is utterly unloved. At any moment, at any instant, he will be put on a train in his shackles and taken through Cerberus's mouth to Hades for the rest of his wretched life. And it is at that precise moment that the light shines from the door of his dark cell #7, and in front of him Tatiana stands, tiny, determined, disbelieving, having returned for him. Having abandoned the infant boy who needs her most to go find the broken beast who needs her most. She stands mutely in front of him and doesn't see the blood, doesn't see the filth, sees only the man, and then he knows; he is not cast out. He is loved."

Anyway, go read!!!!
dangermousie: (Default)
I have been completely enthralled, obsessed and consumed by The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons so I wanted to become a bit of a pusher for it.

What is it? TBH is a novel set around the harrowing siege of Leningrad during WW2 (for those who are unfamiliar with that part of history, the Germans besieged the city, which refused to surrender, and in the resulting siege, which lasted for two-and-a-half years (!!!!), over 1,500,000 people died).

If you are looking for a panoramic take on the siege and WW2 in the Soviet Union, you are better off reading non-fiction, to be honest. What TBH is - is an amazingly passionate and tender character study and love story. The characters who are being explored are Tatiana* Metanova, a 17-yr-old factory worker, eventual nurse, and Alexander Belov, a 22-yr-old officer in the Soviet Army. We are almost constantly in their heads (though the focus is primarily on Tanya) but I did not feel constrained by that focus - instead I couldn't get enough.

* I wonder if she's named Tatiana because of Tatiana Savicheva, a young girl who died of starvation and whose harrowing diary of Leningrad siege, was so famous.

The novel starts on June 21, 1941 - the day Hitler invaded USSR. It is also the day before Tanya's 17th birthday. She's part of a close, loving, though sometimes too constricting family, and as she is waiting to catch a bus, her gaze crosses with that of a young officer. They feel drawn to each other from that very first moment, and the novel's strength is convincing me of their unshakeable, unkillable bond - despite family complications, despite a secret of Alexander's past (not to spoil anything, but let's say a Soviet military tribunal would probably shoot him on the spot if they knew) and, of course, despite the horrors of war - the bombings, the starvation, the front line (Alexander fighting on it and Tanya being a nurse on the same). And despite their characters - they might love each other more than breathing but both are very strong and stubborn individuals who often cannot give an inch. Tanya starts the book as a shy, naive and very sheltered teen, a little solipsistic about her world and Alexander is overly contained and burned-out, but by the end of the book they have been transformed by their love and loss and horrors of war and Tanya becomes an amazing woman, making her own way, alone, across the frozen parts of Finland and Alexander finds both hope and humanity.

I have a confession - I usually cannot stand fiction about Russia written by non-Russians because it rings false. Yet I did not feel that sense of frustration at all here and was shocked, until I found out Ms. Simons was born and brought up in Leningrad and later immigrated with her family. That background informs a lot of the book - from familiarity with Leningrad streets, to the feel of Soviet reality, to the correct use of diminutives (you have no idea how happy I was to see the heroine, Tatiana, being addressed as Tanya, Tatya, Tanyushka etc and Alexander is often referred to as Shura). There are a few things that stick out a bit but they can be attributable to creating dramatic tension and are minor (e.g. I cannot imagine Tanya having her own hospital room when she broke her leg, but I can fanwank it as hospital being pretty empty due to evacuation and it's necessary for the scene that follows). I wonder if this book works for me so well because it's basically about my grandparents' generation - all of whom either fought in the war or were involved in the war effort (one of my great-uncles was one of the Soviet soldiers who took Berlin with his tank brigade). Maybe that is why I don't find the story far-fetched - I know some much more incredible than that.

But what works for me the most in the book is that it manages to convince me that Tanya and Shura's love really is that strong, that amazing, that desperate, that much greater than death. I can fully believe that she cannot breathe without him and that he would die for her without a second's hesitation. You have no idea how rare that is.

Apparently this has been optioned to be made into a movie but, frankly, I don't see how they will make it work - so much of the book's magic is in the writing and in being inside the characters' heads. Take that away and it becomes another epic wartime romance. There is nothing wrong with the latter but it's nowhere near as amazing as the book turned out to be.

I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel "Tatiana and Alexander" because I cannot get enough of them.

One note - I believe some people might find the language a bit overwrought or baroque. I don't, but Russian in general would be pretty baroque and overwrought by English standards (a common endearment is to call someone "my soul" or "my sun"). In any event, here is a small bit (from the sequel but the type of writing is the same) to determine if it works for you or doesn't:

"He is lying on dirty straw. He has been beaten so many times, his body is one bloodied bruise; he is filthy, he is hideous, he is a sinner and he is utterly unloved. At any moment, at any instant, he will be put on a train in his shackles and taken through Cerberus's mouth to Hades for the rest of his wretched life. And it is at that precise moment that the light shines from the door of his dark cell #7, and in front of him Tatiana stands, tiny, determined, disbelieving, having returned for him. Having abandoned the infant boy who needs her most to go find the broken beast who needs her most. She stands mutely in front of him and doesn't see the blood, doesn't see the filth, sees only the man, and then he knows; he is not cast out. He is loved."

Anyway, go read!!!!
dangermousie: (Default)
I have been completely enthralled, obsessed and consumed by The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons so I wanted to become a bit of a pusher for it.

What is it? TBH is a novel set around the harrowing siege of Leningrad during WW2 (for those who are unfamiliar with that part of history, the Germans besieged the city, which refused to surrender, and in the resulting siege, which lasted for two-and-a-half years (!!!!), over 1,500,000 people died).

If you are looking for a panoramic take on the siege and WW2 in the Soviet Union, you are better off reading non-fiction, to be honest. What TBH is - is an amazingly passionate and tender character study and love story. The characters who are being explored are Tatiana* Metanova, a 17-yr-old factory worker, eventual nurse, and Alexander Belov, a 22-yr-old officer in the Soviet Army. We are almost constantly in their heads (though the focus is primarily on Tanya) but I did not feel constrained by that focus - instead I couldn't get enough.

* I wonder if she's named Tatiana because of Tatiana Savicheva, a young girl who died of starvation and whose harrowing diary of Leningrad siege, was so famous.

The novel starts on June 21, 1941 - the day Hitler invaded USSR. It is also the day before Tanya's 17th birthday. She's part of a close, loving, though sometimes too constricting family, and as she is waiting to catch a bus, her gaze crosses with that of a young officer. They feel drawn to each other from that very first moment, and the novel's strength is convincing me of their unshakeable, unkillable bond - despite family complications, despite a secret of Alexander's past (not to spoil anything, but let's say a Soviet military tribunal would probably shoot him on the spot if they knew) and, of course, despite the horrors of war - the bombings, the starvation, the front line (Alexander fighting on it and Tanya being a nurse on the same). And despite their characters - they might love each other more than breathing but both are very strong and stubborn individuals who often cannot give an inch. Tanya starts the book as a shy, naive and very sheltered teen, a little solipsistic about her world and Alexander is overly contained and burned-out, but by the end of the book they have been transformed by their love and loss and horrors of war and Tanya becomes an amazing woman, making her own way, alone, across the frozen parts of Finland and Alexander finds both hope and humanity.

I have a confession - I usually cannot stand fiction about Russia written by non-Russians because it rings false. Yet I did not feel that sense of frustration at all here and was shocked, until I found out Ms. Simons was born and brought up in Leningrad and later immigrated with her family. That background informs a lot of the book - from familiarity with Leningrad streets, to the feel of Soviet reality, to the correct use of diminutives (you have no idea how happy I was to see the heroine, Tatiana, being addressed as Tanya, Tatya, Tanyushka etc and Alexander is often referred to as Shura). There are a few things that stick out a bit but they can be attributable to creating dramatic tension and are minor (e.g. I cannot imagine Tanya having her own hospital room when she broke her leg, but I can fanwank it as hospital being pretty empty due to evacuation and it's necessary for the scene that follows). I wonder if this book works for me so well because it's basically about my grandparents' generation - all of whom either fought in the war or were involved in the war effort (one of my great-uncles was one of the Soviet soldiers who took Berlin with his tank brigade). Maybe that is why I don't find the story far-fetched - I know some much more incredible than that.

But what works for me the most in the book is that it manages to convince me that Tanya and Shura's love really is that strong, that amazing, that desperate, that much greater than death. I can fully believe that she cannot breathe without him and that he would die for her without a second's hesitation. You have no idea how rare that is.

Apparently this has been optioned to be made into a movie but, frankly, I don't see how they will make it work - so much of the book's magic is in the writing and in being inside the characters' heads. Take that away and it becomes another epic wartime romance. There is nothing wrong with the latter but it's nowhere near as amazing as the book turned out to be.

I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel "Tatiana and Alexander" because I cannot get enough of them.

One note - I believe some people might find the language a bit overwrought or baroque. I don't, but Russian in general would be pretty baroque and overwrought by English standards (a common endearment is to call someone "my soul" or "my sun"). In any event, here is a small bit (from the sequel but the type of writing is the same) to determine if it works for you or doesn't:

"He is lying on dirty straw. He has been beaten so many times, his body is one bloodied bruise; he is filthy, he is hideous, he is a sinner and he is utterly unloved. At any moment, at any instant, he will be put on a train in his shackles and taken through Cerberus's mouth to Hades for the rest of his wretched life. And it is at that precise moment that the light shines from the door of his dark cell #7, and in front of him Tatiana stands, tiny, determined, disbelieving, having returned for him. Having abandoned the infant boy who needs her most to go find the broken beast who needs her most. She stands mutely in front of him and doesn't see the blood, doesn't see the filth, sees only the man, and then he knows; he is not cast out. He is loved."

Anyway, go read!!!!

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dangermousie

November 2012

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