Author:  Paulina Simons
ISBN-10: 0007118899
ISBN-13: 978-0007118892

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I was lucky enough to have read The Bronze Horseman written by this superb author a few years ago.  At that time, I was completely taken by her elegant words and heart-wrenching look at one of the most truly powerful love stories since Dr. Zhivago first premiered on the scene.

Just in case you’re one of the unlucky ones who missed the first book, each fantastic page introduced readers to Tatiana and Alexander.  My heart was stolen when I first came across Tatiana.  This was a young woman – teenager – who had the bravery and courage of a lioness.  Her will was so strong, absolutely no one could stop her from doing what she thought was right.  She met Alexander, who was a young officer in the Red Army.  Although not born in Russia, Alexander had a back story (which is explored in this second book).  When they first met, the backdrop was the horrible invasion that Hitler mounted in 1941 against Russia.  And, I have to tell you – from the scenery to the intricate historical detail – this author “hit the ball out of the park.”

Now, in this second tale, we meet back up with Tatiana who believes that her life is absolutely shattered.  Alexander is she thinks, and the child they made together is growing inside her as she stares out at the boats in the wharf, wondering whether or not it’s even worth it to flee the country and try to build a life for her baby.  There is a part of her that truly believes she should give up, because without the love of her life, nothing much matters to Tatiana anymore.  But her ramrod-straight spine and powerful will pushes her forward, and the next time she sees a ‘misty glass-like expanse of greenish sea’ there is a huge iron arm lifted in the air, holding her mighty flame of freedom above the NY harbor and welcoming Tatiana to her new home.

Alexander, meanwhile, hasn’t died; although, with the pain and agony of being held in a prison where Stalin’s secret police have accused him of being a spy, there are times when Alexander wishes he’d perished on the battlefield.  All he can think of is that his beloved Tatiana made it out of the horrific country and is starting a new life for herself in America.  The author unveils Alexander’s, past as he sits in prison thinking about how he got in the position he finds himself.  We go back in time to see when he and his family left the safer, white-shingled, peaceful American town behind, in order to go to Russia and stand-up for their communist views.  Long ago, when Alexander was eleven, his father told him that he was so excited to go back home to Russia and live in freedom – shouting their communist ideas from the hilltops.  The man so wanted to live his faith and beliefs without being persecuted.  Unfortunately, Alexander’s parents weren’t quite prepared for the wretched smells, fetid and dark hotels, and slovenly conditions that they were walking directly into.

My favorite chapters of this book are still the ones that focus on the road that Tatiana has to travel.  As a long admirer and researcher of Ellis Island, it was so interesting to be by Tatiana’s side as she went through inspection, met up with a Doctor and his nurse who help the immigrants coming to shore, and raise her baby in (still, to this day) the most remarkable city on the map.  When Tatiana sees the buildings crowded together in that amazing skyline, you – as the reader – can only imagine what the upstart NYC looked like to the people who had nowhere else to go, and came to our shores with fear, desperation, and, most of all, hope in their hearts and minds.

Every chapter of this book is a surprise, and the romance is still one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read.  In fact, one of my favorite lines from any book comes from this author when Tatiana said:  “We walk alone through this world, but if we are lucky, we have a moment of belonging to something, to someone, that sustains us through a lifetime of loneliness.”  You just can’t get more perfect than that when it comes to showing readers a love so powerful and pure.  Enjoy!

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