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.
dangermousie: (B&W Zai Tian by scanky_chops)
Oum Ruk )

City Hunter ep 6 )

Some nonspoilery CYHMH cuteness )

New Tales of the Gisaeng - wedding obsession )

The X-Family )

Vigilantes in Masks )

Because I am on a WW2 fiction kick after Paullina Simons' novel, I am going to watch the 2008 Russian movie Мы из будущего (We are from the future), about a quartet of modern Russian friends who somehow get transported to 1942. I am sure that is going to be super-chirpy. Have a MV:



And speaking of things to watch, I am pretty indifferent to Ming Dao, but I love twdramas involving fights and smoochies, so Ying Ye 3+1, here I come! Have a MV!

dangermousie: (B&W Zai Tian by scanky_chops)
Oum Ruk )

City Hunter ep 6 )

Some nonspoilery CYHMH cuteness )

New Tales of the Gisaeng - wedding obsession )

The X-Family )

Vigilantes in Masks )

Because I am on a WW2 fiction kick after Paullina Simons' novel, I am going to watch the 2008 Russian movie Мы из будущего (We are from the future), about a quartet of modern Russian friends who somehow get transported to 1942. I am sure that is going to be super-chirpy. Have a MV:



And speaking of things to watch, I am pretty indifferent to Ming Dao, but I love twdramas involving fights and smoochies, so Ying Ye 3+1, here I come! Have a MV!

dangermousie: (B&W Zai Tian by scanky_chops)
Oum Ruk )

City Hunter ep 6 )

Some nonspoilery CYHMH cuteness )

New Tales of the Gisaeng - wedding obsession )

The X-Family )

Vigilantes in Masks )

Because I am on a WW2 fiction kick after Paullina Simons' novel, I am going to watch the 2008 Russian movie Мы из будущего (We are from the future), about a quartet of modern Russian friends who somehow get transported to 1942. I am sure that is going to be super-chirpy. Have a MV:



And speaking of things to watch, I am pretty indifferent to Ming Dao, but I love twdramas involving fights and smoochies, so Ying Ye 3+1, here I come! Have a MV!

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!!!!
dangermousie: (Default)
I have a book I simply must recommend: Troublesome Young Men by Lynne Olson.

It is the (non-fiction) account of a small group of young, anti-appeasement members of Parliament who went against their own party and defied Neville Chamberlain, putting Churchill into power.

It's an incredible book: vivid, well-written, about a really (I hate to use this word but so it is) important topic. Perhaps, most miraculously of all, it actually made me admire politicians for a change. Why can't we have politicians like that now?

I also think I have developed a historical 'crush' on Harold Macmillan (who was one of the 'troublesome young men'). Before reading this book, I knew he was a Prime Minister in the 1950s, but that's all I knew.

But I think I fell head over heels after reading this passage in the book about him in WWI:

"On September 15, at the height of the 'wanton, pointless carnage' known as the Battle of the Somme, Macmillan's batallion was ordered to attack a German machine-gun stronghold near the town of Ginchy. Advancing through heavy smoke, Macmillan and his platoon were rushing a German trench when he was hit in his left thigh and pelvis by schrapnel and machine-gun fire. He shouted to his sergeant to leave him and continue the attack. Throughout his life Macmillan carried a book with him wherever he went, even on the battlefield. This day was no different. While the battle raged around him, he lay in a muddy shell hole and read Aeschylus's Promethius off and on to distract himself from the pain. Whenever German soldiers came near, he pretended to be dead."

Wow.

Anyway, go read this book, it's amazing.

In other, very fictional news, I dare you not to want to watch Jumong after checking out the following three clips.

Clips behind cut )
dangermousie: (Default)
I have a book I simply must recommend: Troublesome Young Men by Lynne Olson.

It is the (non-fiction) account of a small group of young, anti-appeasement members of Parliament who went against their own party and defied Neville Chamberlain, putting Churchill into power.

It's an incredible book: vivid, well-written, about a really (I hate to use this word but so it is) important topic. Perhaps, most miraculously of all, it actually made me admire politicians for a change. Why can't we have politicians like that now?

I also think I have developed a historical 'crush' on Harold Macmillan (who was one of the 'troublesome young men'). Before reading this book, I knew he was a Prime Minister in the 1950s, but that's all I knew.

But I think I fell head over heels after reading this passage in the book about him in WWI:

"On September 15, at the height of the 'wanton, pointless carnage' known as the Battle of the Somme, Macmillan's batallion was ordered to attack a German machine-gun stronghold near the town of Ginchy. Advancing through heavy smoke, Macmillan and his platoon were rushing a German trench when he was hit in his left thigh and pelvis by schrapnel and machine-gun fire. He shouted to his sergeant to leave him and continue the attack. Throughout his life Macmillan carried a book with him wherever he went, even on the battlefield. This day was no different. While the battle raged around him, he lay in a muddy shell hole and read Aeschylus's Promethius off and on to distract himself from the pain. Whenever German soldiers came near, he pretended to be dead."

Wow.

Anyway, go read this book, it's amazing.

In other, very fictional news, I dare you not to want to watch Jumong after checking out the following three clips.

Clips behind cut )
dangermousie: (Default)
I have a book I simply must recommend: Troublesome Young Men by Lynne Olson.

It is the (non-fiction) account of a small group of young, anti-appeasement members of Parliament who went against their own party and defied Neville Chamberlain, putting Churchill into power.

It's an incredible book: vivid, well-written, about a really (I hate to use this word but so it is) important topic. Perhaps, most miraculously of all, it actually made me admire politicians for a change. Why can't we have politicians like that now?

I also think I have developed a historical 'crush' on Harold Macmillan (who was one of the 'troublesome young men'). Before reading this book, I knew he was a Prime Minister in the 1950s, but that's all I knew.

But I think I fell head over heels after reading this passage in the book about him in WWI:

"On September 15, at the height of the 'wanton, pointless carnage' known as the Battle of the Somme, Macmillan's batallion was ordered to attack a German machine-gun stronghold near the town of Ginchy. Advancing through heavy smoke, Macmillan and his platoon were rushing a German trench when he was hit in his left thigh and pelvis by schrapnel and machine-gun fire. He shouted to his sergeant to leave him and continue the attack. Throughout his life Macmillan carried a book with him wherever he went, even on the battlefield. This day was no different. While the battle raged around him, he lay in a muddy shell hole and read Aeschylus's Promethius off and on to distract himself from the pain. Whenever German soldiers came near, he pretended to be dead."

Wow.

Anyway, go read this book, it's amazing.

In other, very fictional news, I dare you not to want to watch Jumong after checking out the following three clips.

Clips behind cut )

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