Monday, April 24, 2006

BBC: The Bronze Horseman (Day 1)

As promised, today is the start of our first Bitches Book Club discussion. We are very excited about our selection for this month as the feedback from our readers has been incredibly positive. Our bitchin’ floating tagboard, for one, has been hopping with comments (especially at night, when I’m not around!!!): “Why did Tatiana act like that?” “How could Alexander do that?” “Are you on the sex part already?” “IS there even a sex part? Because I’m half into the book and they’re still wearing all their clothes!!!” “OMG, the sex was feaking hot! *gasp* They were doing it like rabid bunnies in heat!!!”

Based from all that, we can tell there are a lot of eager people awaiting the start of this discussion. *g* There were even some we had to gag and tie to a chair in order to stop them from discussing the book 24/7! LOL Er, you know, I was actually in that group. *wink*

So let us start with the week long discussion of The Bronze Horseman. We’re hoping all of you who have read it will join us in exploring this wonderful piece of literature more thoroughly.

Here are the first three questions:
  • Tatiana matures during the book. Would you say the book is more about her coming of age than the romance between herself and Alexander?
  • Does Tatiana develop her personal strength during the course of events? Does she gather it from her relationship with Alexander, or is it inherent in her personality?
  • How do your feelings/thoughts about Alexander evolve throughout the book?
P.S. Blogger has been wacky all day and we’ve just been informed that it’ll be down for maintenance this afternoon from 4 p.m. PDT to 4:45 p.m. For those who are unable to post comments, please email us and we will post them after Blogger is back up and running. If you want to wait and post them yourselves, of course, feel free to do that too. :D Thanks!


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24 comment(s):

Anonymous Rebecca of York said...

1) I would say this book focuses on Tatiana AND Alexander and how their love helps them survive one of the most bitter events in history. Tatiana of course matures and develops as does Alexander, but I think it's about both of them.

2) I think Tatiana's strength is inherent in her personality. She's always been able to see through people and she's the only one who doesn't fall apart when Pasha goes missing. She actually does something about it. I think Alexander's love did, however, help her gather her will to live during the Leningrad siege. I think I'm also biased by the later books I've read of this series when we get glimpses to Tatiana's past pre-Alexander. She's always been quietly strong and remarkable.

3. I loved Alexander upon sight. Their meetings was one of the best romantic couple meetings ever written! It's so perfect and romantic! I was peeved over the whole Dasha situation, but I think he was just doing his best to stay close to Tatiana and her family to help them as best he could and the only way he could do that was by pretending to be with Dasha. I would also like to add he's one of the most self-sacrificing characters I've ever read about (with the exception of maybe, Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities). No matter what he's been through, Alexander still has an iron will, unshakable calm, and un-bending principles. I love that he's so strong and in many ways so noble.

4/24/2006 01:22:00 PM  

Anonymous Janice said...

I can honestly say I have never read a book that tore me up as badly as this one. After a slow start, the story propels readers along in sheer frustration alone. The ultimate happiness achieved by Tatiana and Alexander is only matched by the tragic conclusion to the story. Readers get a first-hand glimpse of communal life in the USSR during WWII. The settings are genuine, as well as the characters. My eyes were swollen, my nose red and running as I sped through the final pages. My 4 year old son asked if I was okay!

As for your questions, the book is not just about about the love story, but it's surely about Tatiana and Alexander, whom i loved from the beginning. I think Tatiana's strength is inherent in her personality but her love for Alexander helped her become a stronger person.

This is a great blog!

4/24/2006 09:51:00 PM  

Anonymous pageturner said...

This book deserves five stars for its sense of place and one for characterization. The setting is 1941 Leningrad, where the two Metanov sisters live in a communal apartment with their parents, grandparents, and brother. Paullina Simons creates a vivid and believable portrait of Soviet life during World War II, which is what kept me going throughout the length of the book.

The two sisters fall for the same guy, army officer Alexander. Alexander meets Dasha first, but the younger Tania is the one he loves. Tania begs Alexander not to tell Dasha about their relationship because she does not want to hurt the sister she adores.

This could make for a pretty interesting plot, especially with these gripping war scenes that keep the tension high. Unfortunately, Dasha is such a charmless whinger that Tania's devotion to her is not credible, nor is Alexander's attraction to her in the first place. Then there's Alexander's evil friend Dimitri, and Alexander's secret, and the siege of Leningrad ... it all turns into much of a muchness pretty fast.

This is too bad because the first part of the book is very nicely done, full of fine detail and excellent descriptions of the small pleasures of life in the pre-war Soviet Union. Throughout, the writing on the suffering of civilians during the war and especially during the siege is quite moving. But then the melodrama gets in the way and yanks "The Bronze Horseman" off its pedestal. And the sex scenes? They're tedious. Skip them.

4/24/2006 10:16:00 PM  

Anonymous Sasha said...

1. Yes, it is more about her coming of age than anything else. The romance is one of the ‘environmental’ factors that shaped her into the person she became at the end of the book. There are other such factors, e.g. the war and the subsequent blockade, the loss of her family members one after another, etc.

2. Had everything remained the same, Tatiana might have simply become a sensitive, kind-hearted woman who ‘sees’ things others do not; one who would choose to remain blind to the selfishness of her family because she loves them. This last is the ‘strength’ inherent in her character – to accept weakness in others because she loves.

However, for her to change so drastically from the child she was to the petite Amazon queen she became, there had to be a crisis. In this case, the crisis was in the form of the various factors mentioned in (1). The relationship with Alexander was only one of the factors. I believe the war, more than anything else, played a major role in her maturation process. Had her romance with Alexander taken place in peace-time Russia, she still might not have developed that admirable iron will she ended up possessing.

3. I fell in love with Alexander when he rode on the bus with Tatiana and said he was on city patrol. I fell even more in love with him as he fetched her from work and walked her home everyday. I loved him for worrying about her health, for ‘protecting’ her, for being there for her. I never blamed him for pretending to be enamored with Dasha in front of Tatiana because it was her decision. He had told her from the beginning to come clean with her family, which she refused. That said, I did blame him for ‘making out’ with Dasha while Tatia stayed on the rooftop (it was never explicitly mentioned that he was making out with Dasha, but I think he did) – he could just have pretended to be tired/busy and left.

By the time we got to the sex scenes, I was angrier at Tatiana than I was at Alexander. One thing I find most admirable about him was how he never gave a damn what people thought about him. Tatiana, on the other hand, was always worried about everyone else’s feelings except the feelings of the one person she truly loved.

Then the time came for him to leave the ‘love shack’, and he became an absolute bastard in his treatment of her. I was very angry because whatever his reasons, he had no right to hurt the person he loved (even if he thought it was for her own good).

So to answer the question, I was pretty much in love with him throughout. There were times when I got angry because he would do/say stupid things for stupid, incomprehensible male reasons (what male have gone through their lifetime without doing this???) , but on the whole, I find Alexander to be an admirable man. Noble, strong, having such capacity to love despite his heartbreaking background. This is very unfortunate because I don’t think my future husband has a chance of passing the ridiculously high standard Alexander has set! LOL.

4/24/2006 10:51:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a nice blog. I want to be a book bitch too! Who wrote "The Bronze Horseman"?

4/24/2006 11:12:00 PM  

Blogger Marg said...

The Bronze Horseman was written by Paullina Simons

4/24/2006 11:55:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

My first impression of Tania was not good. I hated her from the minute she disobeyed her father to stay home and read some stupid book, and then decides to buy herself some ice cream knowing that she needs to buy food for her family to survive a war!!!!

I never in my life thought someone could be so stupid and selfish. She changes, and as she matured I liked her better. But sometimes she did things that no person with a normal iq level would even think of which just really pissed me off lol. I’d say my relationship with her was pretty much love/hate. :P

I agree with Sasha that the book is mainly about Tatiana and what how her life has been affected/changed by her love for alexander and the people/events that sorround her.

Tatania is very complex. I think she has a constant struggle with herself. She doesn’t deem herself worthy of love and appreciation, hence she lets her family/friends/people in lazarevo treat has as they do. Then when Alexander shows up, and things start falling to pieces she gathers her strenght, but I think it’s more for him and seeing him again, being with him once more, staying alive for HIM than doing any of this for herself. I think that if Alexander had not been a part of her life she wouldn’t have survived the winter.

I liked him at first. Even after I found out about him and Dasha, because I honestly thought he would do the right thing. But I cannot forgive him for having sex with Dasha in Tatiana’s bed;Kissing Dasha in front of her. I cannot forgive him for being selfish, and wanting to be near Tania so much, that he didn’t care he was hurting her (or her putting up with it to begin with!!!!) I don’t think he’s selfless and I think he’s very selfish and what he did has no excuse!!! If a guy dare treat me that way, he’d be out the door so fast (with some pointy kitchen utensil all the way up his ass lol) he wouldn’t know what hit him. If he’s the epitome of a romantic hero, I’d rather never encouter one lol :P

Anonymous :D Welcome and Tks for the nice words.

TBH is by Paullina Simons. It's a incredibly well written and thought provoking book.

4/25/2006 12:33:00 AM  

Anonymous Sasha said...

VT:

"If a guy dare treat me that way, he’d be out the door so fast (with some pointy kitchen utensil all the way up his ass lol)"

Darling, that's exactly what you or I would do. Tatiana however, not only put up with it, she ASKED him to live that lie to begin with. Whatever her saintly excuse for doing it, the woman drives me insane! LOL (well, at least in the beginning until she wises up).

4/25/2006 02:38:00 AM  

Blogger Gatxan said...

Sorry bitches but I can't contribute yet. I just got the book from Amazon YESTERDAY. And although I'm a fast reader... anyway, I'll be reading all your posts as soon as I finish it. Enjoy the discusion!

4/25/2006 02:50:00 AM  

Blogger Harlot said...

I didn't like Tatiana in the beginning LOL. She seemed so helpless and clueless and just too childish. But as the story progressed, i couldn't help but feel for her flight. She is surely a strong person but i believe it's mainly because of Alexander and her love for him.

I agree with Sasha that the book is mainly about Tatiana and the changes brought by Alexander, love, and the war. I agree with Trollop that Tatiana doesn't feel herself worthy of love. Look at the way she insisted for Alexander to continue dating Dasha. She made it harder for everyone, especially for herself, a very stupid thing to do that really bothered me, because of what? Oh, who care's if Dasha's her only sister! Yes, telling about Alexander might cause pain for her sister, but Alexander made it clear from the beginning that he wanted HER, that he preferred HER.

I loved Alexander from the start. He's yummy LOL. Er, i love the way he always makes sure that Tatiana's alright, for always being there for her. Yes, i admit there are times he becomes loathsome and a jerk with her treatment of Tatiana, especially before he left Lazarevo, but i think it's because Tatiana makes him feel helpless sometimes. Still, i agree, no excuse.

Alexander is not selfless. But neither is he a selfish bastard!!! That i disagree. There's NOTHING wrong with doing what you want and what you think is the best thing to do in the situation and what you believe is the best for the woman you love. (That thing about Dasha was wrong, but if Tatiana herself was the one who insited he continued it, i won't hold that much against him.) Alexander might not be a Matt Farrell, but he was noble. And he would do ANYTHING, give everything for Tatiana. And for that, i love him.

4/25/2006 07:49:00 AM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Hi Pageturner,

I disagree about skipping the sex scenes. LOL And it is NOT tedious! TBH is a VERY well-written book with well-developed characters so vivid you could touch and feel them.

I actually love the sex parts. LOL No kidding. :P But not really because it's sex, because of the way Paullina Simons wrote it, it's glorious, compelling and beautiful.

4/25/2006 08:03:00 AM  

Blogger Carlo Alberto said...

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Maybe you could think about getting revenue from it.
I'm collecting interesting articles on http://blogginformoney.blogspot.com .
Hope you like!

4/25/2006 09:59:00 AM  

Anonymous Rebecca of York said...

To clarify, what I said about Alexander being one of the most self-sacrificing characters: the main thing I'm referring to is the sacrifice he made in the end for her, to allow her to live a better life while his was doomed. Also, the fact that he could have fled through Finland to the US and saved himself from the WWII front at any time, but stayed to help out the family because he knew they needed him and his rations and Tatiana needed him for his moral support as well as him looking out for her. Also, even his agreeing to marry Dasha to stay closer to the family. He didn't want to marry Dasha, if he wanted sex he could have found any female to do that, but he agreed to stay on with her so he could keep looking out for Tatiana (plus it specifically mentioned in the book that they stopped having sex in August, so eventually Alexander was able to make his excuses to Dasha). The whole Dasha situation, I see as mainly Tatiana's bad. He wanted to tell the truth, they had oppurtunities at the beginning, even right after Luga, but Tatiana kept saying no. Alexander did the right thing by breaking it off with Dasha before Luga, but afterwards when he saw that Tatiana would not be able to evacuate Leningrad with that broken leg and he knew on Leningrad the hammer strike would fall the hardest, he decided he had to stay close to her and the family to make sure they were okay. And what you know, it worked: Tatiana survived. It would have been totally unbelievable that Alexander and Tatiana could have come clean after the Luga incident because the family would have totally rejected her. They're peeved with her as it is for going out and doing that "stupid thing" and that she now has dependant rations. If she had betrayed the "good sister" I think Dasha might have thrown her out of the house, the rest of the family would not have stuck up for her because Dasha was Tatiana's only defender in that house and she would have hated her guts for stealing her man. So I think Alexander's masquerade, although cruel to Dasha, and painful for BOTH him and Tatiana, was necessary and he wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been.

4/25/2006 11:56:00 AM  

Blogger kinky courtesan said...

alright... since i've been slapped.... heres my opinions.... although I hate writing so sorry if its insanely short!!
1) I think the book is about Tatiana's coming of age, though the romance helps. She is a really strong character and proved that she could make it on her own. I envy her for that.
2) She draws strength from everything around her. Her family pushes her (though not in the best way), the war pushes her, and Alexander pushes her. She went through so much trauma that many people would have just given up and died like the rest of their family!
3)I've got a love/hate relationship with Alexander. I first met(well not met but you get the idea) him and loved him! He was curious and nice when he walked her home. Then the whole thing with Dasha happened and even though it was the only way it could work, IT STILL PISSED ME OFF!!! my book is now severly damaged from tantrums... anywho... When he went and found Tatiana in L-town, he was demanding and it was exactly what she needed. I loved him again until he left. Then when he got injured he was alright again. I wish he would have tried harder to get walking so that he and tatiana could have ditched Dimitri before he could be a total and uter dumbass. I'm very glad he died. bastard. okay... so it wasn't as short as i thought... haha

4/25/2006 12:56:00 PM  

Anonymous Sasha said...

*****SPOILERS*****

Ladies,

I think most of us agree that Alexander’s pretense of being enamored with Dasha was Tatia’s fault for asking him to live that lie. Most of us also agree that he was a bastard for sleeping with Dasha, despite the ‘permission’ Tatia gave by her silence on the matter. As VT put it in her lovely way, "If a guy dare treat me that way, he’d be out the door so fast (with some pointy kitchen utensil all the way up his ass)" LOL.

I just want to give another angle to this discussion. Maybe PS did the Alexander-sleeping-with-Dasha situation to show us Tatia’s youth and immaturity at that stage in the book. From the beginning, as the story went along, you could sense the strength unfurling within Tatia. Yet for all that, she was still, very much a child in so many ways, particularly when it came to the ‘birds and the bees’. Compare her reaction to Alexander making out with Dasha here, and her reaction in The Summer Garden when Alexander got into a ‘thing’ with another woman. For those who have read TSG, I think you would understand what I mean.

By TSG, Tatia was her own woman. When she forgave Alexander for his actions, it was because she loved him enough to help him become a better person, not because she was afraid to walk out on him. It was this very strength that dictated her reaction to him cheating on her; a vastly different reaction than the way she reacted in the Alexander-Dasha situation.

4/25/2006 09:11:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

OMG *Groan*

Sasha, so this means he's still at it by the third book???? Can't this guy keep his pants on?

I'm sorry I do not condone/forgive cheating of any kind or under any circumstances!

I've been there more than once, and I walked out w/o ever looking back; too many men in the world.

I always think "someone else will love me enough to cherish and respect me the way I deserve" life is too short to waste on cheating losers lol. :P

4/25/2006 10:01:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

What the hell??? He cheated on TSG??! :(

4/25/2006 10:08:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

That Shonra is a piece of work!!! grrrr...

4/25/2006 10:22:00 PM  

Blogger prettyautonomous said...

I love your entire blog =)

4/26/2006 12:34:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

prettyautonomous,

Tk you so much :D

Welcome aboard!!! Stick around and post often. We love to get to know our readers and what they think on our different topics.

xxx

4/26/2006 01:08:00 AM  

Blogger Marg said...

Harlot, don't freak out about the cheating in TSG just yet okay??

4/26/2006 02:27:00 AM  

Blogger rebelheart said...

1 and 2.I think it's a little bit mor about her romance with Alexander,but at the same time it's this love that made her more mature,an adult!Probably,due to war,she would have gotten mature anyway,but in a different way,having to deal with all the things,like the death of all her beloved ones,but by herself. With Alexander she got more faith,without she would have be more bitter,careless.Maybe without him she wouldn't have so much strenght to survive the war even!
3.I love Alexander,he isn't perfect of course,often I've found him too "possessive",but somehow I understand it because Tatiana is the only thing he has,after loosing his family and identity,she is the reason and meaning of his life. I love his presence (who wouldn't) and how he takes care of Tatiana,from the smallest to the biggest thing he does!

4/26/2006 05:24:00 AM  

Anonymous Jo said...

1. Yes, I think the book is about Tatiana's coming of age and maturing. It was interesting to "watch" the process though many times she frustrated me with her loyalty to a family that would have sacrificed her in a New York minute.

2. All humans have potential from birth and those potentials are developed and shaped by the myriad of experiences and exposures one encounters during ones lifespan. Tatiana's development was strongly influenced and even quickened due to the horrors and reality of the war.

3. The beginning courtship between Alexander and Tatiana was charming. I thoroughly liked him at that point. It was obvious he was very intelligent and, I thought, mature for his 22 years. He showed his wisdom when helping Tatiana select food items in preparation for the war and his foresight in recommending she by motor oil. When he discovered Dasha was Tatiana's sister, and he wanted to tell her the truth, I was impressed with his integrity. I was disappointed when he agreed to continue deceiving Dasha but then encouraged when he declared he was going to tell Dasha the truth and not see either of them again. I figured that as Dasha was one who fell in love very easily, she would eventually move on to another person and then Alexander would be able to reenter Tatiana's life. But he "ended" his relationship with Dasha in such a wimpy way (something about him needing time to himself to think about things or some such drivel), it left the door of hope open for Dasha that she would be able to work on him and get him back. From that point on, I was not a fan of his. Granted he stepped up to the plate several times in helping the Metanov family, but he completely undermined it in my opinion with his need to control, his insane jealousy and his possessiveness. I know of a woman who was murdered by her controling, insanely jealous and possessive husband, so I was completely turned off by his demonstrating those same traits. I never completely got back on his bandwagon. Though I will say that he does have his moments here and there.

Jo

4/26/2006 04:21:00 PM  

Anonymous Tami said...

TBH and T&A !Loved these 2 PS books!! I didn't know where to post this so I'm putting it here, lol.
I decided to start rereading TBH, see what I thought about it after finishing both books. Well.
Big Spoilers:


I knew that there was significance to Alexander keeping Tatia's White dress with the big, red, cabbage embroidered roses. She was wearing it when he met her and when they were married, but also when the German's dropped the flyer telling everyone to wear white so they won't target them (!) So, yes it was special.
However.....!

Here is even greater evidence: Her thoughts as we first see her in the dress:

"Fabrique en France! It was gratifying to own a piece of anything not made badly by the Soviets, but instead msde well and romantically by the French; for who was more romantic than the French? The French were masters of love. All nations were different. The Russians were unparallled in their suffering, the English in their reserve, the americans in their love of life, the Italians in their love of Christ and the French in their Hope of Love. So when *they* made the dress for Tatiana, they made it full of promise. They made it as if to tell her, put it on, cherie, and in this dress you, too, shall be loved as we have loved; put it on and love shall be yours. And so Tatiana never despaired in her white dress with red roses......because the French had made it she never lost hope"

This is so profound and I, of course could only appreciate how profound after reading both stories, then rereading these very symbolic thoughts. This white dress with the red cabbage roses that Alexander carried in his rucksack throughout the war.....

Paullina Simons is a Master Storyteller

1/24/2007 01:38:00 PM