BLURB: “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 obsessed with the belief that her husband, Red Army Major Alexander Belov, is still alive and needs her desperately…Meanwhile, oceans and continents away in the Soviet Union, Alexander, having barely escaped execution, is leading a battalion of soldiers considered expendable by Soviet high command. New recruits survive only days. Yet Alexander is determined to take them across the ruins of Europe in one last, desperate bid to escape Stalin’s death machine, and see Tatiana once again…”
REVIEW: As frequent readers of my blog would have noticed, I absolutely adored the previous installment in The Bronze Horseman Trilogy, so I was extremely excited to start ‘Tatiana and Alexander’, the second novel in this series – so excited, in fact, that after allowing myself half an hour to sob over ‘The Bronze Horseman’, I launched straight into this one. After being told that her husband Alexander is dead, Tatiana, beyond heartbroken and pregnant with their first child, takes her flight from Leningrad as she and Alexander had planned. When both of her travelling companions are killed, Tatiana is forced to make the rest of the perilous journey alone, and upon her arrival in America she gives birth to a boy whom she names Anthony Alexander Barrington, after his father. Despite her best attempts to move on in life, caring for her son, working at the hospital and befriending a flighty young nurse named Vikki, Tatiana soon has reason to believe that her husband isn’t actually dead at all, and becomes obsessed with her desperation to find him. Meanwhile, Alexander is going through Hell back in Russia. Being questioned by the NKVD proves to be an experience full of torture and fear, but Alexander refuses to break, holding the memory of his Tatiana close to him. As his situation becomes more and more bleak, however, Alexander’s memories of Tatiana begin to fade and become tainted with the camp where he is imprisoned. Both Tatiana and Alexander, however, are determined to find each other, and both go to extreme lengths to do so. Once again, I do not want to go into too much detail on the journeys that both Tatiana and Alexander go through in their attempts to find each other, through fear of spoiling the book for readers. Just as with ‘The Bronze Horseman’, however, I formed a huge emotional attachment to this book, and on more than one occasion found myself sobbing with both sadness and joy. As can probably be inferred from the fact that there is a third installment in the series, Tatiana and Alexander are reunited (though I will not reveal how), and this moment is written beautifully, providing one of the most touching scenes I have ever read in a novel. The reader finds themself almost aching with relief for the couple, both of whom have suffered so much, and leave the novel with cherished hopes that they can finally, finally be happy. Simons’ gift for writing with such emotion is truly remarkable, and I am so excited to find out what happens in ‘The Summer Garden’, the third and final book in this epic trilogy.