What I love about THE BRONZE HORSEMAN by Paullina Simons is the intensity of emotion on the page which lifts a boy-meets-girl story and makes it transcendent.
Seventeen-year-old Tatiana Metanova has led a sheltered life. Her family have not run afoul of the authorities in Soviet Russia, she has never had a boyfriend, and she has no idea how lovely she is. One day, she sit on a bench enjoying an ice-cream when she realizes a soldier (Alexander) is staring at her. Their eyes meet and a love affair begins.
Here is an example of what I mean about how emotional this story is. Alexander has just bought her a picnic for her birthday, and they are seated on a bench eating it:
He was spread out all over the bench and sitting conspicuously close. If she breathe, a part of her would touch a part of him. Tatiana was too overwhelmed to speak, as her intense feelings dropped into the brightly lit well inside her.
“Tania?” Alexander asked gently. “Tania, is the food all right?”
“Yes, fine.” After a small throat clearing, she said, “I mean, it’s very nice, thank you.”
…His leg accidentally touched hers.
Tatiana blushed. “No, not since.” She moved her leg and changed the subject to the Germans. She heard him sigh, then talk a little about what was happening at the garrison. But when Alexander was the only one talking, Tatiana was able to gaze at him…She wanted to ask him to put away that soft, smiling look in his ice cream eyes.
This glorious love-affair between two strong-minded characters set against the backdrop of the siege of Leningrad during World War II is a treat to read. Five stars.