Sunday, July 15, 2012
The Bronz Horseman
I am breathless, having just read 637 pages of adventure, love, secrets, betrayal, heartache, and sacrifice. I must admit that there were times I wanted to give up on the book. Like when I first picked it up from the library and it was so huge! Not that I don't like reading, or couldn't finish that many pages, but it seemed like a really big commitment to make to a book! Then again during frustrating - no maddening- arguments between Tatiana and Alexander! I could hardly bare the intensity and insanity of it. And again during such deep heartache and loss; if I could barely make it through another page, I couldn't see how the characters would manage another breath. But isn't this what great books do to us, don’t they evoke such intense feelings and create vivid images that we feel as though we are living along side it? At one point, during the blockade, when food was scarce and rations were dwindling, I was called away from the book to have lunch with my family. It was the strangest feeling eating, I felt as though I needed to save part of my meal for later, not knowing where or when the next bite of food would come. That’s how immersed I became.
The second World War has always fascinated me, and I have read many historical fiction books from this time period, though none have been from the perspective from the Communist Russia. I found this love story set during WWII Soviet Union, spellbinding. Reading about communism from the perspective of someone who never knew any different. The living conditions, shared kitchens and bathrooms, multiple generations sharing two rooms, bread lines, and ration cards are so foreign to me.
It was intriguing to see how the ideals of communism broke down during the time of war, and in its place self enterprise was rewarded with food and money. How some Soviets viewed Hitler and Stalin as two sides of the same coin. . .
It was, again, appalling to see just how fierce and strong the Germans were, and just how close they came to reaching their goal. This book is a brutal reminder that many suffered, many starved, and many died at the hands of one man's ideals.
But this is not the heart of this story, just the intricate weaving of place and time. This story is much, much, more. It is a story of love, and the sacrifices one will make for that love. Whether that love be for family, for country, for self, or for a lover - a soul mate, love demands sacrifice. That is what this story is, it is a story of sacrifice.