The Bronze Horseman is a grand, sweeping novel in the tradition of Gone with the Wind, or Pasternak’s Dr.Zhivago. As the story begins, the Nazis are poised to invade Russia. Tatiana Metanova lives with her family in a cramped apartment in Soviet Leningrad. She meets Alexander, a young soldier, and they fall in love.
But the course of true love never runs straight, particularly in a Russian novel – Alexander is the same man Tatiana’s sister has fallen for, and the Germans soon lay siege to the city, subjecting the residents to years of privation and death. And Alexander has a secret that threatens to destroy them. As Tatiana watches her family sicken and die and struggles to survive, she’s torn between her love for Alexander and her loyalty to her sister.
Simons pulls no punches in describing the horrors of war. The Siege of Leningrad cost the lives of over 1.5 million civilians, and in the story of Tatiana’s family, those almost inconceivable numbers are made real. But The Bronze Horseman is above all a love story, and I was caught up from the beginning in the romance between Tatiana and Alexander.
(One warning – there is some explicit sex in the book, but it’s a relatively small part of a very long and involved novel. )