Amira's Reviews > The Summer Garden

The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons
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Feb 02, 2012

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bookshelves: love-story, historical-fiction, relationships, romance, war-stories, coming-of-age
Read in January, 2008

I found the third book in the Bronze Horseman Trilogy,'The Summer Garden' disappointing. I really really really really LOVED the other two novels a lot, but this one departed too much from the characters that I had grown to love. I have to admit that most of the story was a collective extension of vague plotless prose, which didn't reflect the true essence of the characters Tatiana and Alexander. I also felt it lacked a climax and strongly disliked Alexander's indescretion and when he hit Tatiana (that was not the true Shura I know and love), even Tatiana was mildly frustrating. Why couldn't they just talk to each other!!!! I couldn't get emotionally invested in the subplots, even with Anthony and Vikki etc. I ended up (ashamedly) skimming through most of it. I really wanted to love it, but I will only be actively recognising the first two books in the trilogy. Maybe I will revist this one when I have experience in a marriage and can relate more. The three stars are for Paullina Simons, I'm sorry.
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Quotes Amira Liked

Paullina Simons
“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. ”
Paullina Simons, The Summer Garden

Paullina Simons
“Tatiana had imagined her Alexander since she was a child, before she believed that someone like him was even possible. When she was a little girl, she dreamed of a fine world in which a good man walked its winding roads, perhaps somewhere in his wandering soul searching for her.”
Paullina Simons, The Summer Garden

Paullina Simons
“Whenever you're unsure of yourself, whenever you're in doubt, ask yourself three questions. What do you believe in? What do you hope for? but most important, ask yourself, what do you love?”
Paullina Simons, The Summer Garden

Paullina Simons
“The power you have over someone who loves you is greater than any other power you'll ever have.”
Paullina Simons, The Summer Garden

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Ana (new)

Ana Your review was very helpful! thanks.
I just discovered The Bronze Horseman two weeks ago. I devoured it and just plain loved it. Cried my eyes out in the last quarter of the book. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second book at the beginning of this week. I finished it last night. I was a little disappointed with The Bridge to Holy Cross. It seemed to me as if the author either wrote it for people that had not read the first one, maybe the editor liked her so much, that decided not to edit the book, or maybe she recycled edited parts of her first book and just stuffed them in the second to make it longer. I don’t know. The plot was good, her storytelling excellent, but the book looses continuity because of all the flashbacks of unnecessary stories, most of which we already knew. The book would have been excellent, even if it was 250 pages long.
I like the way Paullina Simons did her research and was very accurate in her description of war and prewar in the Soviet Union.
As I suspected I may loose the nice taste I have from the first and even the second book, I decided to look at a few reviews, even if they spoiled the third book a bit. I can not believe she tells a story so out of character. The description of the love between Tatiana and Alexander in the first two books is magical, unbreakable. Alexander tells Dasha at some point: “Don’t ever confuse me with someone that would hurt your sister”. In the worse of situations and at the worse point in the war, Alexander was always Tania’s protecto, above himself. She describes him as being the sum of all of his parts. His personality is completely laid out in the first book. We know him perfectly, even more than we know her. There is no way, no way, he would do what I have read described in the reviews (not to spoil it for anyone that is going to read the book). Tatiana would have never forgiven him.
I am not going to read the third one and I am going to convince myself that the second one finished there and any review I read was from a different plot from two different characters. Too bad. Paullina Simons should had stopped in the second one, maybe just giving us an epilogue of how wonderful their life in America was after they arrived. With ups and downs like anyone else, but with an undying love that not many people ever find.

message 2: by Anna (new)

Anna I haven't read this book because it seemed like it would be too painful for me to read. I wasn't planning to read it at all because it would ruin my image of Tatiana and Alexander's beautiful love from the Bronze Horseman. Now, though, I think I will save this novel for when I have a lot of time and feel emotionally up for it.

After contemplating why Paullina would write a book like this...I have come to the following conclusion. In this novel, we really get to see who Tatiana and Alexander are. In the Bronze Horseman, their hardships were so immense, their time together so brief that they weren't really given any chance to show all the little flaws they possessed. The entire novel (and the second novel as well) was just them, struggling and trying their hardest to be together.

But what do you do when you are finally together, and you have your whole life ahead of you? What do you do when you realize how broken you really are after the war? Sometimes the little things, the mundane things in life, are what eat away at you little by little. That is what this novel explores. In the first two novels, Tatiana and Alexander were united by their intense desire to be together. But in this novel? All they have is their love, which has changed from being more idealistic and pure (in the Bronze Horseman) to being more realistic as they try to face everyday life together. However, from what I've read of the spoilers and excerpts (which is a lot), I don't feel like their love has grown any less intense.

Wow. I usually don't read romance, but this trilogy has seriously dug its way into my heart...

message 3: by Anna (new)

Anna And of course, this novel also shatters my rather unrealistic illusions of Alexander as a perfect and dashing prince, which he undoubtedly was in the Bronze Horseman (and I'm 100% positive I'm not alone). That really got to me for a while, before I realized that hey...he's human too. For all his flaws, he was able to rise above them and that is so very admirable... perhaps this is harder to do than not having any flaws to rise above in the first place.

Amira I always saw that Alexander had flaws in The Bronze Horseman and The Bridge to the Holy Cross, like possessiveness and a fierce temper, but these faults were always the result of much deeper good intentions. Usually his ultimate aim was to devotedly love and protect Tatiana at all cost and to the best of his abilities (Tatiana often and intuitively saw the bigger picture, which is why they argued over telling Dasha the truth and her returning to Leningrad after the blockage to be with him). However in the third novel I felt that Alexander's actions weren't in character, even though I understood that he had been damaged by the war.

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