WOW!! Once again, I am writing this review through my tears (happy tears). What a beautiful book and wonderful conclusion to one of the greatest love stories ever told!!!!
The first part of this book is about healing. Healing from all the traumas WW2 has left on their bodies and souls. About finding a way to emotionally find their way back to the peace of Lazarevo. Their memories haunt them like scars – unforgettable souvenirs of a war neither of them wanted to fight as they struggle to build a new life in the States with their son.
I really viewed books 1 & 2 as one story. The first ended on a cliffhanger and the story bled right into the second which ended in a way that wrapped up that part of the story. That first story really defines LOVE . Falling in love, being in love, the extremes to which a person will fight for their love…. In book 1, Tania is 17 years old while Alexander is 22, and by the end of book 2, Tania is 22 and Alexander is 27.
But book 3 is different. By the end of it, Alexander is about 85 and Tania is 80. This book is about LIFE . Its about the realities of married life based on true, all consuming love. Tania and Alexander make good decisions and some bad decisions as they struggle to find balance in their lives and to heal from the war… but through it all, it always comes back to their endlessly deep LOVE for each other. It feels like a very realistic and true story – no fairy tale here. Its gritty and INTENSELY, EXHAUSTINGLY, DEEPLY emotional …. and it all comes back to that one day, in Lenningrad, where a young officer in the Red Army crossed the street for a beautiful blond girl sitting on the bench at the bus stop eating her ice cream <3
Especially after having read books 1&2, I felt SO deeply emotionally connected to the characters that when ever they would have memories or would mention the names of people/places that had memories attached to them, I found myself bursting into tears even without realizing it. This series really makes you FEEL more strongly than any other I have ever read.
The ending is beautiful and perfect. I sobbed through the last 10 pages. Their story comes full circle with no questions left unanswered. I read this book SO slowly, savoring every word, never wanting the story to end. Truely the very definition of happily ever after.
Paullina Simmons is a truly gifted author. She has a way with words that I won’t even try to do justice to with my own but I really think everyone should, at least once in their lives read this trilogy. I know I will definitely be rereading for the rest of my life.
Alexander and Tatiana’s story through all 3 books is by leaps and bounds my absolute favorite story I have ever read… Nothing else even touches it. I have NO idea how to move on from these books…
I don’t know what else to say, except if you haven’t read book 1, The Bronze Horseman, you should all really bump it to the very top of your to-read pile.
“I love you. I’m blind for you, wild for you. Sick with you. I told you that our first night together when I asked you to marry me, I am telling you now. Everything that’s happened to us, everything, is because I crossed the street for you. I worship you. You know that through and through…”
“Alexander, you broke my heart. But for carrying me on your back, for pulling my dying sled, for giving me your last bread, for the body you destroyed for me, for the son you have given me, for the twenty-nine days we lived like Red Birds of Paradise, for all our Naples sands and Napa wines, for all the days you have been my first and last breath, for Orbeli- I will forgive you. ”
“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.”
“All grimy and sweaty, Alexander drew her to him, his palms on her back, and bending to her and tilting his head, whispered into her mouth, “Tatiasha, I know you won’t believe this, but if I’m looking at the sheets when I’m making love to you, we’ve got a bigger problem than what damn color they are.”
“Tatiana fretted over him before he left as if he were a five-year-old on his first day of school.
Shura, don’t forget to wear your helmet wherever you go, even if it’s just down the trail to the river.
Don’t forget to bring extra magazines. Look at this combat vest. You can fit more than five hundred rounds. It’s unbelievable. Load yourself up with ammo. Bring a few extra cartridges. You don’t want to run out.
Don’t forget to clean your M-16 every day. You don’t want your rifle to jam.”
Tatia, this is the third generation of the M-16. It doesn’t jam anymore. The gunpowder doesn’t burn as much. The rifle is self-cleaning.”
When you attach the rocket bandolier, don’t tighten it too close to your belt, the friction from bending will chafe you, and then irritation follows, and then infection…
…Bring at least two warning flares for the helicopters. Maybe a smoke bomb, too?”
Gee, I hadn’t thought of that.”
Bring your Colt – that’s your lucky weapon – bring it, as well as the standard -issue Ruger. Oh, and I have personally organized your medical supplies: lots of bandages, four complete emergency kits, two QuickClots – no I decided three. They’re light. I got Helena at PMH to write a prescription for morphine, for penicillin, for -“
Alexander put his hand over her mouth. “Tania,” he said, “do you want to just go yourself?”
When he took the hand away, she said, “Yes.”
He kissed her.
She said, “Spam. Three cans. And keep your canteen always filled with water, in case you can’t get to the plasma. It’ll help.”
And this cross, right around your neck. Do you remember the prayer of the heart?”
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Good. And the wedding band. Right around your finger. Do you remember the wedding prayer?”
Gloria in Excelsis, please just a little more.”
Very good. Never take off the steel helmet, ever. Promise?”
You said that already. But yes, Tania.”
Do you remember what the most important thing is?”
To always wear a condom.”
She smacked his chest.
To stop the bleeding,” he said, hugging her.
Yes. To stop the bleeding. Everything else they can fix.”
“….and when Tatiana lifted her glistening eyes to him, Alexander was looking down at her with his I’ll-get-on-the-bus-for-you-anytime face.”
“Everything comes at a price. Everthing in your life. The question you have to ask yourself is, what price are you willing to pay?”
“This is days and days and months and years and all the minutes in between, just you me.”
“This Zippo read, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.. for I’m the baddest motherfucker in the valley.”
**SERIES READING ORDER **
Book #1: THE BRONZE HORSEMAN
Book #2: TATIANA & ALEXANDER
BOOK #3: THE SUMMER GARDEN
These are, without a doubt, exactly the way I see Alexander and Tatiana:
Happy reading everyone ♥