dangermousie: (Default)
Am currently in the middle of reading Tatiana and Alexander, the sequel to The Bronze Horseman, and I love it beyond words.

The book starts where TBH ended (with Tatiana believing Alexander dead and escaping to Finland and Alexander facing interrogation and execution by the NKVD) but, unlike TBH, it is not linear but has a looping structure jumping between 1930s and 1940s and between past (childhoods, their time together) and the present - Tatiana trying to adjust to her life in America and Alexander escaping execution and instead being placed in charge of penal batallion (which was tantamount to a death sentence anyway - they were often sent into battle unarmed) and desperately trying to survive so he can find Tatiana once again.

Unlike TBH, which was about falling in love and dealing with how to cope with it, Tatiana and Alexander is all about longing and regret and memories and anguish of loss. And the looping structure not only gives us scenes between the couple which we would not have gotten otherwise, it also fits the tone of the narrative - Tatiana is trapped in the past, not willing to move on, feeling it would be a betrayal, and for Alexander, his memories of Tatiana is the only way he keeps himself sane. In a way, Tatiana and especially Alexander hold on to the memory of each other because everything else is such a nightmare. Nothing in the novel is, IMO, as harrowing as the Leningrad famine in TBH, but there is plenty of truly awful stuff - Soviet torture cells, POW time, the hell of war in general. If you want a cheerful read, look elsewhere.

While it's the Alexander portions of the book that have the most impact (hard to beat barrelling through Eastern Europe in WW2 for punch), I really loved the Tatiana in America portions. In part it is because Tatiana is my favorite character, even more so than Alexander (that woman is insanely tough - surviving the famine while taking care of her entire family, surviving the hellish evacuatuon, crossing the front lines on foot, as a nurse crawling on the ice under heavy artillery fire, breaking Alexander out of a Berlin prison etc - she's fearless!) but in part because I really liked the way she was portrayed going through the grieving process, her past the most intense thing about her but not being able to refuse being slowly drawn back to life. It is a lot less dramatic but it felt very real and also necessary - Tatiana's private time to heal from and come to terms with the horrors of TBH. And let's face it, she will need that psychic health because even though she rescues him at the end (in the sequence that made me bawl and bawl - yup I spoiled myself), Alexander had no such time and space. In fact, he is beyond messed up and will need any steadiness he can get.

Oh, and the writing continues to be gorgeous:

He had lived the last five years of his life being with women whose names he could not remember, whose faces he could not recall, women to whom he meant nothing but a well spent moment on a Saturday night. The connections he had made with these women were transient links, gone as soon as the moment was gone. Nothing lasted in the Red Army. Nothing lasted in the Soviet Union. Nothing lasted inside Alexander.
He had lived the last five years of his life amid young men who could die instantly as he was covering them, as he was saving them, as he was carrying them back to base. His connections to them were real but impermanent. He knew better than anyone the fragility of life during Soviet war.
Yet Tatiana had lived through the hunger, made her blind way through the snow on the Volga, made her way inside his tent to show Alexander that in his life there was on permanence. In Alexander's life there was one thread that could not be broken by death, by distance, by time, by war. Could not be broken. As long as I am in the world, she said with her breath and her body, as long as
I am, you are permanent, soldier.
And he believed.
And before God they were married.


I really do think they may become my favorite fictional OTP. If you want epic angsty lovers to end all others, go get these books. Now.

The one problem with these books is they are pretty much ruining me for anything else, novel or drama-related. The intensity cannot be matched but also I find myself getting annoyed at various fictional chracters who are not Tatiana and Alexander going "are you getting shelled on the Neva ice; dying of starvation; getting beaten to death by the NKVD? No? Then shut the frak up and stop whining!" Maybe that should be my attitude to life - "broke a plate? head hurts? baby woke you up at an ungodly hour? well, at least you aren't storming the Germans unarmed." Heh.
dangermousie: (Default)
Am currently in the middle of reading Tatiana and Alexander, the sequel to The Bronze Horseman, and I love it beyond words.

The book starts where TBH ended (with Tatiana believing Alexander dead and escaping to Finland and Alexander facing interrogation and execution by the NKVD) but, unlike TBH, it is not linear but has a looping structure jumping between 1930s and 1940s and between past (childhoods, their time together) and the present - Tatiana trying to adjust to her life in America and Alexander escaping execution and instead being placed in charge of penal batallion (which was tantamount to a death sentence anyway - they were often sent into battle unarmed) and desperately trying to survive so he can find Tatiana once again.

Unlike TBH, which was about falling in love and dealing with how to cope with it, Tatiana and Alexander is all about longing and regret and memories and anguish of loss. And the looping structure not only gives us scenes between the couple which we would not have gotten otherwise, it also fits the tone of the narrative - Tatiana is trapped in the past, not willing to move on, feeling it would be a betrayal, and for Alexander, his memories of Tatiana is the only way he keeps himself sane. In a way, Tatiana and especially Alexander hold on to the memory of each other because everything else is such a nightmare. Nothing in the novel is, IMO, as harrowing as the Leningrad famine in TBH, but there is plenty of truly awful stuff - Soviet torture cells, POW time, the hell of war in general. If you want a cheerful read, look elsewhere.

While it's the Alexander portions of the book that have the most impact (hard to beat barrelling through Eastern Europe in WW2 for punch), I really loved the Tatiana in America portions. In part it is because Tatiana is my favorite character, even more so than Alexander (that woman is insanely tough - surviving the famine while taking care of her entire family, surviving the hellish evacuatuon, crossing the front lines on foot, as a nurse crawling on the ice under heavy artillery fire, breaking Alexander out of a Berlin prison etc - she's fearless!) but in part because I really liked the way she was portrayed going through the grieving process, her past the most intense thing about her but not being able to refuse being slowly drawn back to life. It is a lot less dramatic but it felt very real and also necessary - Tatiana's private time to heal from and come to terms with the horrors of TBH. And let's face it, she will need that psychic health because even though she rescues him at the end (in the sequence that made me bawl and bawl - yup I spoiled myself), Alexander had no such time and space. In fact, he is beyond messed up and will need any steadiness he can get.

Oh, and the writing continues to be gorgeous:

He had lived the last five years of his life being with women whose names he could not remember, whose faces he could not recall, women to whom he meant nothing but a well spent moment on a Saturday night. The connections he had made with these women were transient links, gone as soon as the moment was gone. Nothing lasted in the Red Army. Nothing lasted in the Soviet Union. Nothing lasted inside Alexander.
He had lived the last five years of his life amid young men who could die instantly as he was covering them, as he was saving them, as he was carrying them back to base. His connections to them were real but impermanent. He knew better than anyone the fragility of life during Soviet war.
Yet Tatiana had lived through the hunger, made her blind way through the snow on the Volga, made her way inside his tent to show Alexander that in his life there was on permanence. In Alexander's life there was one thread that could not be broken by death, by distance, by time, by war. Could not be broken. As long as I am in the world, she said with her breath and her body, as long as
I am, you are permanent, soldier.
And he believed.
And before God they were married.


I really do think they may become my favorite fictional OTP. If you want epic angsty lovers to end all others, go get these books. Now.

The one problem with these books is they are pretty much ruining me for anything else, novel or drama-related. The intensity cannot be matched but also I find myself getting annoyed at various fictional chracters who are not Tatiana and Alexander going "are you getting shelled on the Neva ice; dying of starvation; getting beaten to death by the NKVD? No? Then shut the frak up and stop whining!" Maybe that should be my attitude to life - "broke a plate? head hurts? baby woke you up at an ungodly hour? well, at least you aren't storming the Germans unarmed." Heh.
dangermousie: (Default)
Am currently in the middle of reading Tatiana and Alexander, the sequel to The Bronze Horseman, and I love it beyond words.

The book starts where TBH ended (with Tatiana believing Alexander dead and escaping to Finland and Alexander facing interrogation and execution by the NKVD) but, unlike TBH, it is not linear but has a looping structure jumping between 1930s and 1940s and between past (childhoods, their time together) and the present - Tatiana trying to adjust to her life in America and Alexander escaping execution and instead being placed in charge of penal batallion (which was tantamount to a death sentence anyway - they were often sent into battle unarmed) and desperately trying to survive so he can find Tatiana once again.

Unlike TBH, which was about falling in love and dealing with how to cope with it, Tatiana and Alexander is all about longing and regret and memories and anguish of loss. And the looping structure not only gives us scenes between the couple which we would not have gotten otherwise, it also fits the tone of the narrative - Tatiana is trapped in the past, not willing to move on, feeling it would be a betrayal, and for Alexander, his memories of Tatiana is the only way he keeps himself sane. In a way, Tatiana and especially Alexander hold on to the memory of each other because everything else is such a nightmare. Nothing in the novel is, IMO, as harrowing as the Leningrad famine in TBH, but there is plenty of truly awful stuff - Soviet torture cells, POW time, the hell of war in general. If you want a cheerful read, look elsewhere.

While it's the Alexander portions of the book that have the most impact (hard to beat barrelling through Eastern Europe in WW2 for punch), I really loved the Tatiana in America portions. In part it is because Tatiana is my favorite character, even more so than Alexander (that woman is insanely tough - surviving the famine while taking care of her entire family, surviving the hellish evacuatuon, crossing the front lines on foot, as a nurse crawling on the ice under heavy artillery fire, breaking Alexander out of a Berlin prison etc - she's fearless!) but in part because I really liked the way she was portrayed going through the grieving process, her past the most intense thing about her but not being able to refuse being slowly drawn back to life. It is a lot less dramatic but it felt very real and also necessary - Tatiana's private time to heal from and come to terms with the horrors of TBH. And let's face it, she will need that psychic health because even though she rescues him at the end (in the sequence that made me bawl and bawl - yup I spoiled myself), Alexander had no such time and space. In fact, he is beyond messed up and will need any steadiness he can get.

Oh, and the writing continues to be gorgeous:

He had lived the last five years of his life being with women whose names he could not remember, whose faces he could not recall, women to whom he meant nothing but a well spent moment on a Saturday night. The connections he had made with these women were transient links, gone as soon as the moment was gone. Nothing lasted in the Red Army. Nothing lasted in the Soviet Union. Nothing lasted inside Alexander.
He had lived the last five years of his life amid young men who could die instantly as he was covering them, as he was saving them, as he was carrying them back to base. His connections to them were real but impermanent. He knew better than anyone the fragility of life during Soviet war.
Yet Tatiana had lived through the hunger, made her blind way through the snow on the Volga, made her way inside his tent to show Alexander that in his life there was on permanence. In Alexander's life there was one thread that could not be broken by death, by distance, by time, by war. Could not be broken. As long as I am in the world, she said with her breath and her body, as long as
I am, you are permanent, soldier.
And he believed.
And before God they were married.


I really do think they may become my favorite fictional OTP. If you want epic angsty lovers to end all others, go get these books. Now.

The one problem with these books is they are pretty much ruining me for anything else, novel or drama-related. The intensity cannot be matched but also I find myself getting annoyed at various fictional chracters who are not Tatiana and Alexander going "are you getting shelled on the Neva ice; dying of starvation; getting beaten to death by the NKVD? No? Then shut the frak up and stop whining!" Maybe that should be my attitude to life - "broke a plate? head hurts? baby woke you up at an ungodly hour? well, at least you aren't storming the Germans unarmed." Heh.

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