This series of books could have have done without this last one. After so much drama in the first two this one is a drag and is rather boring. Taking forever to read but I will finish just to complete the series....but I would not recommend it to anyone reading the series. You can certainly stop at the second book for sure!
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
68 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Ah, Tatia and Shura...July 30 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
After reading The Bronze Horseman for the third time and Tatiana & Alexander for the second, I got my hands on The Summer Garden (after ordering it from amazon.uk, of course). The last in the trilogy, The Summer Garden was worth the wait. It works at a different speed than the other two. Where The Bronze Horseman was white-hot, full of adventure, betrayal and love and Tatiana & Alexander was full of tortured love, The Summer Garden is the "what happens next?" When Tatiana and Alexander are finally able to be together, how do the handle their past and still manage to move forward? This book was much more about their relationship, rather than their love. Can they survive the day-to-day life and everything that goes with it? Though this may seem like a boring premise for a book, it is actually quite engrossing. Seeing Alexander and Tatiana handle jobs and family and age may throw off some fans of The Bronze Horseman, but I couldn't put it down. I loved following these characters through the years. I think it was a great way to end the trilogy, I felt like I had lived the lives of these characters and when the characters are Tatiana and Alexander, that is a great feeling to have. Now that I have finished this trilogy, I look forward to reading Simons' other novels.
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
A Wonderful Conclusion to this TrilogySept. 23 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
*Possible Spoilers for those unfamiliar with the first two books*
The Summer Garden completes the trilogy that Paullina Simons began in The Bronze Horseman and continued in The Bridge to Holy Cross (UK title is Tatiana and Alexander), bringing to an end the story of lovers Tatiana and Alexander. The Bronze Horseman concerns the genesis of the love affair, when Alexander, a young soldier in the Red Army falls in love at first sight with Tatiana Metanova- the sister of his girlfriend, Dasha at the beginning of the second World War. The lovers first challenge is attempting to navigate their relationship to avoid hurting Dasha with whom Tatiana is very close. However that quickly takes a backseat when the siege of Leningrad begins and Tatiana fights for her own survival and that of her family. Eventually Tatiana and Alexander marry but Alexander is called back to the front- Tatiana follows him until Alexander realizes that a secret from his past is putting both of their lives in danger. In desperation he fakes his own death (which he believes is imminent) and assures that a pregnant and grieving Tatiana will give birth to her child in America. The sequel begins soon after- we learn that though Alexander has been taken prisoner he has survived and is desperately trying to get to Tatiana. Meanwhile a heartbroken Tatiana tries to make a life for herself and her newborn son in America, but is tormented by her lack of closure regarding Alexander's death. In desperation Tatiana leaves her son, Anthony with a friend, joins the Red Cross and goes to a recently defeated Berlin where she discovers Alexander in a POW camp. Alexander and Tatiana succeed in a desperate escape from Europe and are reunited with their son in America where they begin their lives together.
Thus, the Summer Garden begins when Tatiana and Alexander, both barely into their 20's have survived the worst that the twentieth century, and humanity itself can offer. Their next challenge comes from one another-they must learn to adjust or a life where they can share a relationship openly, where they don't face death and destruction on a daily basis. After facing brutal battles, POW camps, and the horrors of the Holocaust, Alexander fears that he is too emotionally damaged to be a good husband and father. Meanwhile Tatiana misinterprets Alexander's emotional distance as a boredom with her and their son, Anthony. As the pair attempt to find a balance in their new life, cold war paranoia threatens their family. The first half of the novel deals with these very day to day challenges over the course of the next 3 decades. As readers we come to know Tatiana and Alexander as they learn to like each other as well as love each other, and deal with challenges that every couple, everywhere face. We get to know these heroic characters in a "normal" life as well as in life and death situations, and we feel that we know the characters better for it.
The second half of the novel deals with life and death once again. When Anthony grows up as an American, he reveres his father to whom he is very similar. To his parents dismay he volunteers for active duty in Vietnam where he goes missing. Unsure if he has been taken prisoner or gone AWOL, the family is in a horrible limbo until a letter Anthony wrote to a former lover gives them an obscure clue. Now Alexander leaves his beloved Tatiana with their other children while he heads into the heart of Vietnam to rescue his son. Here, we truly see Alexander as a father for the first time: He is desperate to find his firstborn and desperate to survive the attempt and return to his family.
Parts of The Summer Garden feel tedious and slow moving because they deal with everyday challenges while we are used to seeing these characters face the extraordinary. But these are necessary challenges for Tatiana and Alexander to face in order to be believable in readers minds. At times I felt that Simons focused far too much on their characters sex lives but I realized that Tatiana and Alexander are able to reconnect and express feeling for one another physically long before they are able to do so verbally. These bedroom scenes that initially feel gratuitous are actually a way of depicting a growing relationship and the struggle to express the deepest reaches of love that the characters feel. While the other novels dealt with issues of life and death, this novel deals with life- what Tatiana and Alexander have fought for, for so long.
Interspersed with the action of the novel we see flashbacks of a time before the war, before Alexander, when a young Tatiana first is confronted with evil and the struggle to survive. This subplot also further develops Tatiana's relationship with Dasha and why it so important to her in The Bronze Horseman.
As a trilogy we really come through these books with a sense of knowing these characters through and through- we see the events of Leningrad and their meeting through the eyes of Alexander as well as Tatiana, scenes from their childhoods and their experiences separately, as well as what they share together and why. This allows us to feel that we know them, and we care for them far more deeply- it allows us to share in their fears and struggles and find joy in their day to day lives together.
I've now read everything Paullina Simons has written to date, and I can't wait for her next book. Now that I know "what happens next" I might reread this trilogy at a slower pace at some point so that I can savor it more.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Masterful conclusion to a fantastic epic love storyApril 15 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
Alexander and Tatiana met and fell in love in The Bronze Horseman. Separated by betrayal and a world war, the two overcame incredible odds to find each other again in Tatiana & Alexander. In The Summer Garden, the final book in the trilogy, they are together at last, yes, but strangers. Changed in irrevocable ways by the circumstances they endured while apart, both must strive to let go of painful memories and learn to communicate again. This book is full of emotional highs and lows, and great joyful moments, as Tatiana and Alexander carve out a new life for themselves and their young son in America. It's a must read for anyone who loved the first two books!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A Realistic Ending to a Terrific Series - BRAVO PAULLINA! Well Done!March 6 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
This third installment in the trilogy strongly finds its footing amidst the backdrop of America's Cold War. Tatiana & Alexander stumble along the way, trying to adjust to the more "mundane & everyday" course of living. They're trying to keep the fireworks alive in their marriage against the reality of 1950s conformity & conservatism (Simons really captures this era Extremely Well, reflective of peers, pressures -- very reminiscent of "Revolutionary Road").
On the path to rediscovering themselves and each other, this realistic portrayal of a Post-War Marriage finds universality no matter what era we're in, no matter which war. We all have our battles to face, be it our inner demons, our outer conflicts, finding meaningful work, while trying to meet each others needs and grow together. Everyday life ain't always easy.
To the Critics of this fine Swan Song, I say this: the thrill & adventure of the first 2 books (Bronze Horseman, Tatiana & Alexander) has No Place in this book! It is simply Not Realistic. The pacing is appropriate. And I still could not put the book down - I did not want this journey to end. For indeed, it is a journey of a lifetime.
To the Cynics of this story, is your life so fascinating & intense Every Day? Is it even possible to live it on the Edge like that? Bronze Horseman/Tatiana and Alexander captures all the highs & lows of a rollercoaster. And Summer Garden has plenty of highs & lows of its own. But it cannot be sustained in the "do or die" mode of WWII. It is not realistic.
My Grandfather fought in the French Resistance in WWII, hiding his family, risking his very life -- Can You Imagine the INTENSITY? The Stress? The Fear? The Audacity?
His reward was surviving and finally making his way to America, to make a home, make a life. The adjustment was Not Easy. So when I tell you that his love for my Grandmother surpassed all love stories, that their Old World Kitchen always smelled of food and bread, as my Grandfather twirled my Grandmother around the kitchen, kissing her in front of us grandchildren (mind, they were in their 70s and still in love as ever), I can say with certainty that Paullina Simons caught the True Essence of Survival and a Fully Lived Life.
And yes, my Grandfather carried his past along. He was Not Perfect. He was larger than life, like Alexander, even Cocky and Dominant like Alexander -- He Had To Be! It was HOW HE SURVIVED! And my Grandmother adored him for who he was -- just like Tatiana.
A Gorgeous Coda to Storytelling, that waaaay surpasses Diana Gabaldon's beat-the-horse-to-death Outlander series. The beauty here is that Paullina Simons wrote a satisfying life story in only 3 books. How I wish there was more! (I am looking forward to reading the anecdotal stories in the Cookbook, Tatiana's Table, next.)
Give this book a credit for what it is - a love story. And if you decide not to read it based on some pulp-fiction cheap romance reader critiques, then it's your loss. If you think you can do better, I challenge you to write your great american novel and get it published by a real publisher. Go for it. I dare you.
Meanwhile, I get the joy of cherishing these books again and again. Having lived vicariously through my Grandparents' stories of survival and love, I can tell you that Simons got it pegged in all 3 books! Bravo!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
My favorite of the three!Feb. 11 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm absolutely enamored with this series!
In the first two novels in the Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons, she throws our two protags, Alexander and Tatiana, into peril from the outset- starting with the siege of Leningrad during WWII on through their eventual escape to America in the late 1940's.
When the second book ended, I couldn't see how Simon's could squeeze any more gripping material out of Tatiana and Alexander's lives. But she wonderfully surprised me.
As the blurb for The Summer Garden states, their story was only beginning.
The Summer Garden starts where the story left off before the epilogue of Tatiana and Alexander(Or The Bridge to Holy Cross for any Brits and Ozzies out there!). Though Alexander has joined Tatiana and their son Anthony in the US, part of him is still in the gulag Tatiana rescued him from, unable to move forward and unable to allow himself to live after seeing, and causing, so much death and destruction.
But Tatiana is a fierce one and doesn't give up so easily. They travel all over the US trying to find a place they can call home, and along the way, bring him to a place of healing. I found this one to be much more sexual then the first two- almost erotic really- but that too had it's purpose, a metaphor if you will, for the spiritual melding their marriage so desperately needed after their time apart.
They end up in Arizona, on a parcel of land Tatiana bought with the money Alexander's mother horded away after his father zealously gave up their US citizenship and hauled his family to the Soviet Union during the pre-war years.
You would think that after all they had been through- sieges, starvation and the total destruction of their families and homeland- that all the pain was behind them and that nothing could break them. But you would be wrong. They find that peaceful life can be way may more insidious, with it's ghostly fingers plucking at them until they become something they never thought they would.
This is why I fell for this book in a much deeper way then even the first two. I have found in life that the big things, like death and pain, are far easier to survive then the little things that can eat you away before you even realize it. Like the slow dripping of water that erodes a massive stone, we are often unaware of the things that constantly hit us until all that we thought we were is almost totally gone. Although the big things define us and show us what we can be, it's the little things and how we deal with them, that show us what we are. And so it was for Tatiana and Alexander.
We follow them through the years, through bad decisions and successes, death and birth, through children growing up and themselves growing apart, until the very end when we see them with their family, white haired but still in as much love as the day when Alexander crossed the street to meet a skinny, blond haired girl innocently eating ice cream, waiting for her life to begin.
Alexander is the ultimate Alpha hero. Strong, brooding, flawed and intense. Despite outward appearances, Tatiana has a core of steel and an insight into human nature that matches him pound for pound. The little tidbits of Tatiana's former life that Simons throws into The Summer Garden, only reinforces that fact, and I for one loved that part of the story telling, though I can imagine some people would have found it extraneous.
Tatiana and Alexander's love was so deep, so intense, that it became their greatest strength as well as their greatest weakness and it became the strength of these novels as well.
Although I know these books are not for everyone- their huge, sweeping and daunting at times- but so worth the time invested. My wish is for everyone to find a book that moves them as much as these have with me!