Liked It1 of 1 members found this review helpful
“For what I have read so far I think is so sad the way that people change because of what happend to them I think the book is quite real on that side, because after what both shura and tatia whe trough I wouldnt believe fot them to be all happy happy even if there wer with each other, so I think...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“FINALLY. I am done with this series. I can put it to bed and never think on it again. There are times where the series was quite good, but more times where it was frustrating, puzzling, and rage-inducing. Unfortunately, the latter sort of moments almost entirely comprise the final volume of the...”see full review » see other reviews »
“One of my favorite series!”Teri S wrote this review Tuesday, November 12, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I really was not looking forward to reading this installment of the trilogy after reading the reviews I have seen here, but I loved this book as much as the other 2. It is extremely unrealistic for anyone to believe that Tatiana and Alexancer would live happily ever after with no adversity or issues after going through what they did in the first 2 books. Instead, the writer gives a realistic story of a marriage. A long relationship with good days and bad days and everything in between. ”Marty C wrote this review Sunday, August 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“FINALLY. I am done with this series. I can put it to bed and never think on it again. There are times where the series was quite good, but more times where it was frustrating, puzzling, and rage-inducing. Unfortunately, the latter sort of moments almost entirely comprise the final volume of the trilogy, making this a painful read. And, fuck yes, there will be spoilers and profanity all up in this review.
The Almost Good
Simons obviously knows how to write well. She's got a great command of language, and can put together nice complex sentences. Of course, being able to write masterfully is worthless if you don't write awesome things with your pretty sentences. However, I think even the writing has gotten worse in this third book. There were also several typos that hadn't been edited out, perhaps because even the editor couldn't stand this shit and started skimming. In one scene, the quotation marks completely disappear for about a page for no reason. Another obnoxious trend in the writing, one obviously intended to be clever, is the narrator's tendency to get really excited and end sentences with exclamation points for emphasis! Exclamation points are for dialog or first person narration, not freaking third person.
By this point in the series, there is literally no plot, just the unfolding of the rest of Alexander and Tatiana's sex-filled lives, until the last two hundred pages where it becomes another book entirely. In no way do I think of myself as a prude about sex in novels. In fact, I sometimes quite enjoy it, though some sex scenes are giggle and snort-inducing, because of the absurd descriptions. Simons' are okay in that they mostly do not result in hilarity. However, they're also not sexy. A little goes a long way with sex in novels, I think. There's so much more power and tension in novels that have just one good kiss than in this series where Tatiana and Alexander have sex countless times. If you played a drinking game by the number of orgasms had in this book, you would die of alcohol poisoning before you finished. While I cannot say quite for certain, I'm convinced that those two characters don't have sex a single time that the reader doesn't know about it.
Keep in mind that they have a young child, and, for much of his toddler years, they have just one bedroom. So they have sex with their sleeping child several feet away myriad times. What fun. I get that their circumstances are difficult, but have someone take care of your kid for a couple hours or something. There will not be enough therapy in the world to take on this kid's emotional problems.
Describing sex is obviously Simons' favorite thing, but she does also enjoy describing Tatiana and Alexander, perfect specimens that they are. Here's a sample out of the hundreds of descriptions offered:
"She's got a tiny waist out of which her hips extend like to halves of a golden delicious apple. Her flat stomach glistens, her breasts are heaving. He is looking up at her. She is golden delicious." (390)
If you're going to read this trilogy, I hope you're very interested in Tatiana's breasts, because you get to hear about them A LOT. Also about her tiny waist. Alexander's described too, so tall and manly and strong, but Simons sure seems to enjoy describing Tania's nigh impossible figure more. And, in case you didn't know they were hot, both of them get hit on constantly by everyone. Alexander's boss' girlfriend greets him with kisses on the cheeks, but always tries to get him on the lips. A coworker of Alexander's breaks into their house in the middle of the night to rape Tatiana while keeping Alexander at bay with a gun, but Alexander saves the day, of course. These are just two examples of many.
The Fucking Ugly
Now, in theory, I do support the idea of showing the difficulties in Tatiana and Alexander's relationship after she rescued him from a concentration camp, now run by the Soviets, in Berlin. Alexander underwent a lot of torture, and would no doubt be fucked up as a result. He's scarred, inside and out. However, that does not make it okay for him to do whatever he wants, and I do not appreciate the way he treats Tatiana, even if she's okay with it. While a husband treating a wife this way might have been deemed normal or acceptable at the time, that does not make Alexander any less of an abusive monster.
One of the main fights Alexander and Tatiana have is about the fact that she insists on working at the hospital, even after he's earning enough money to support the family. All the other women stop working even when they just have boyfriends, so why won't she stay home, which is, after all, a woman's place. He bitches at her about her job constantly, accusing her of letting him and their son Anthony down by being away from home so much, even though Tatiana does fucking everything. She cooks all the food, and she's a great cook, from scratch, she keeps the house spotless, and she has sex with Alexander a million times a day, all while working 40-60 hours a week. Rather than thanking his lucky stars that he married a damn goddess, Alexander accuses her of not caring enough and of having an affair with a coworker.
After they have fights, about her job or about the fact that she has yet to become pregnant with a second child, even though fifteen or so years have passed from the birth of their first, Alexander seduces her into doing whatever he wants. Then there's this fight. An asshole friend of Alexander's is finally getting married, and they're having a bachelor party with strippers. Tatiana tells him she does not want him to go see the strippers, and after a heated discussion, he promises to leave before the strippers and be home by 1 AM. He stumbles in drunk and smelling like cheap perfume at 5 AM. Tatiana goes out to the hen party at some club the next night, as she threatened to do if he went to see the strippers. She comes home early, and reveals she was actually at the hospital, because, unlike her husband, she doesn't actually want to do things that will make him uncomfortable. She tells him not to touch her right now, and he does. He has sex with her, even though she didn't want him to. Sure, she got into it because that's what happens with them, but, in my mind, this is spousal rape. He forced her. After lots of sex, the fight's over. Just like that.
Then, later, things get worse. Alexander, convinced his wife is having an affair with a doctor at the hospital, because he saw the doctor make her laugh (no joke), and because she works Friday nights, he starts going out with a different asshole friend. A married woman with huge breasts hits on him, and he ends up playing with her breasts and getting a subpar blowjob in her car, then making plans to meet up for the real deal later that week. He tells Tatiana he's working and goes, but ultimately chickens out of actually sleeping with the woman, who calls his house and asks Tatiana where he is when Alexander doesn't show up to meet her. Penetration or not, this is adultery, and Alexander is a rat bastard who deserves to die alone.
For freaking the first time ever, Tatiana is finally so pissed she's considering leaving him, taking Anthony and going. When she says this, he hits her, several times in the face, leaving her bruised and bleeding. Just wait, though, it gets worse. Here's what Tatiana has to say: "'Except for this--anything you do is fine with me . . . So if you raise your voice or hand to me, I bow my head and take it'" (510). The this in that sentence is adultery. So, it's totally okay with her if he abuses her as long as he doesn't fuck anyone else. No, Tatiana. No, it's not okay.
What's even more not okay is that she DOES forgive him, of course. She lets him stay, and you know what his punishment is for cheating on his wife and then abusing her when she has the audacity to be mad at him about it? He finally gets more children (she was actually going to tell him she was pregnant again the night he went to fuck that other woman) and she quits her job at the hospital to raise them. You know what, Paullina Simons? It is in no way acceptable to romanticize an abusive, cheating husband, or to convey that men can do no wrong and should in fact be REWARDED for such horrific behavior.
The Shit Icing on This Crap Cake
Then, after 500+ pages of their unhealthy relationship, the book suddenly turns into a novel about the Vietnam war for a hundred pages. Simons did similar awkward changes of pace in The Bronze Horseman, but this one was even more out of place. Tatiana and Alexander's oldest son, Anthony, enlists to go Vietnam, and they freak out. In his fourth or fifth tour of duty, he goes missing. Setting up an incredibly lame parallel with the second book, Alexander goes to Vietnam to find and rescue him.
In Vietnam, Alexander discovers that his son has been entrapped by a one-eyed, eight-fingered North Vietnamese whore, who he married believing her pregnant with his child (she may or may not have been). Alexander convinces a family friend, and Anthony's commander in Vietnam, to stage a rescue to get his son in enemy territory, where he may not even be, even though this is completely against the commander's orders. In the process of rescuing Anthony (because of course they do), the Vietnamese girl (who is evil, obviously) is killed, as are a lot of the men who helped Alexander rescue his son. Alexander is grievously injured (but doesn't die because I hate everything). For their actions, both Anthony and Alexander are given medals of honor, even though Alexander wasn't supposed to fucking be there and Anthony got himself captured by falling in a love with a whore who was working as a spy. More men died in this operation than were rescued. But who fucking cares about that? All that matters is Alexander and Anthony!
Finally, I'm at the end of this damn book, the Coda, a prissy way name for the epilogue. In this epilogue, we learn that 1999, Alexander, age 80, and Tatiana, age 75, are still in love and have the perfect lives. All of their kids are married and successful. Every single child in the family is exceedingly attractive, and all the men are tall. Most important of all, you should note, each one of their four kids had at least one son, because, you know, men are more important than women, in case you missed that from all of the other misogyny in this disgusting book, which gives a happily ever after to a man who abused his wife.
Fuck This Shit, I'm Out
Now can anyone tell me why the FUCK this book has a 4.16 average rating on Goodreads? Only 81 people out of 6273 thought this was a one star book, as of the time of this writing. You know what? I give up. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, of course, but I really do not get how this book fit the epic love story that is purportedly going on in this series. Spousal rape, infidelity, and abuse are not romance, yet this is subtitled "A Love Story." Unlike Lady Gaga, I do not want any part of this Bad Romance. ”
“EDIT: 4-13-12 I was never able to get through this book. I liked the characters well enough, but, while I don't require a lot of action, something should happen and Simons had too many long stretches where essentially nothing happened. It's unlikely that I will finish this one, which is too bad, because if I could cut out all the excess verbiage, this might actually be a good story.
7-13-11 This is a long book -- not just the number of pages, but the style. I am about a quarter through (maybe less). Most of the "action" so far, has been to develop the characters, rather than to move the plot along. I care enough about these characters to want to finish the book, but this will be slow going and this summer is busy. There are plenty of other, easier books in my pile to read in the meantime. I'll repost this when I finally get the whole book read.”
“A disappointing finish after two of the most beautiful books I've read.”Anna wrote this review Thursday, October 6, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The epic conclusion to The Bronze Horseman trilogy. ”B wrote this review Tuesday, August 30, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“the last in the trilogy,
I enjoyed it, still a very gripping book
though i found the last few chapters a bit corny the rest was great ”
“This book is the third in the Bronze Horseman trilogy. I loved the first book, generally liked the second (though nowhere near as much as the first), and really liked this conclusion to the epic Tatiania and Alexander saga. It is a sweeping narrative spanning the latter half of the twentieth century and focusing mostly on Tatiania and Alexander's marriage. What happens after happily ever after? What happens to these two people after tragic and horrific things befall them? This book was melodramatic and soap opera-esque much of the time, but I have to admit I loved it and was drawn in to the drama. Both characters are unlikable at times, and much of the time I wondered why Tatiana stayed with Alexander. I liked the section with Anthony in Vietnam and I was gripped in my reading chair, wondering if he was going to make it out of the war alive. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was sad to see the trilogy come to its conclusion.”Julia F wrote this review Tuesday, July 12, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“4.5 Love this series!”krisT J wrote this review Friday, July 1, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Bestselling author, Paullina Simons, closes the epic love story of Tatiana and Alexander in The Summer Garden, to be published June 21, 2011. Having survived the devastation war heaped upon them, Tatiana, Alexander and their son, Anthony, now reunited, rebuild their lives in America amidst the backdrop of the 1950’s Cold War.
The intensity and passion of the first two novels, The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana and Alexander is shifted as Tatia and Shura, forever changed by years of war-torn separation, relearn who they are as a couple. They survived terrible upheavals in The Bronze Horseman and distance and loss in Tatiana and Alexander. Now, two very changed people doggedly renew their enduring love, seize the happiness they once knew, and forge ahead in America to reclaim their life together.
Sound like a fairy tale? It is not because the adjustments necessary to rekindle their lost love are heart wrenching and difficult. Their commitment to each other, however, is unfailing. Their young son, Anthony, captures the irony of his parents’ transitions early on when he says, “My dad was a major (in the war), but now he’s a lobsterman.”
They live in Maine. Shortly later, they move to a houseboat in Miami. San Antonio, Texas. New Mexico. The Napa Valley of California. Each move brings excruciatingly slow healing. Alexander recovers from PTSD. Tatiana strives to soothe him and reignite their former passion. Their son, Anthony, tries to make sense of the emotional rollercoaster his parents ride. Their lives are rife with conflict, compassion and compromise. Freedom in their new home is impeded by the political complications of a US citizen who served as a Russian officer living in Communist-wary America. Finally, they settle in Arizona on the land Tatiana wisely purchased in the previous book. Can they ever carve out a normal life after what they have been through?
Born in Leningrad, USSR in 1963, Paullina Simons always dreamed of being a writer. After her family came to the United States, she put her dream on hold as she learned a second language and adopted a new culture as her own. She is the author of nine internationally acclaimed novels and has a devoted following. Ms. Simons says of The Summer Garden, “It has abundance and it has abject poverty. It has happiness and the lowest depths of misery.” She explains that she knows no one, including her husband and best friend as well as her characters, Tatiana and Alexander. Clearly the love she feels for her characters has infected the readers of her books.
Although part of a trilogy, the book stands on its own. Slower paced, it is richly drawn. Flashbacks from the two preceding novels fill in the story for the reader. Within its pages lie hate, happiness, intimacy, betrayal, struggle, war, peace, the joy and pain of children. Simons concentrates on the two main characters. Even if you haven’t read the first two books, you will care about Tatiana and Alexander deeply. Although stubborn, passionate and wounded, they simply do not give up on their love for each other. The development of secondary characters was cast aside, except for the son, Anthony. At age five, he learns to sing in Russian and English—and to change the magazine cartridge in his father’s Colt M 1911 in six seconds. He eventually makes his way to West Point, Vietnam and into the presence of President Reagan.
Despite its unique emotional and suspenseful qualities, the book’s focus on unnecessary minutiae dulls its impact. The incessant love-making scenes, although perhaps a metaphor for the healing in the marriage, become tiresome. The emphasis on the education and marriages of grandchildren seems a digression. An editor’s pen could have condensed the rambling wordiness into a fast-paced epic.
The book is highly recommended to devotees of the trilogy. If you haven’t read the first books, but love an unpredictable romantic melodrama which yanks your emotions to and fro, you will enjoy The Summer Garden.
The review copy was graciously provided by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. All opinions expressed are unbiased and solely that of the reviewer.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont”