“There are some battles, no matter how much you don’t want to fight them, that you just have to fight. That are worth giving your life for.”
The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler’s armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.
Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander’s impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.
Lately I noticed people talking about this book, and it was listed on many friend’s “favorites”. So I figured I should check it out. I love a good romance with a bit of angst sprinkled in. But I was not all prepared for this. I figured, if I could read Outlander, I could do this. But this was nothing like Outlander. Nothing at all. Good Golly!!! This book made me feel so much. It made me feel angry, sad, deliriously happy, disgusted, and frustrated. But most of all, it just made me feel. No matter how mad and frustrated I was, in the first half of this book, I still was feeling. My heart was breaking to pieces, over and over again. I almost gave up, because I was so depressed. And I say that seriously. My friends kept telling me to stick it out, and I’m so thankful I did.
Now, I don’t know my history, so I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, when I read this. I just thought Russia in WWII, that’s not going to be fun, but ok. I can handle it. I was completely wrong.
Tatiana is the youngest in her family and she completely gives everything, of herself, for others. She’s even willing to give up her only love, so her sister won’t be brokenhearted. Now, I will admit, I didn’t like this part at all. I was so mad to see what she had to go through to keep her feelings secret. I wanted to reach in a slap some sense into her. She fell for Alexander almost immediately, but she didn’t want to tear her family apart, by causing anymore trouble. They already complain enough about her and treat her poorly. I can’t even imagine doing that for my family. Add that, on top of all the suffering that went all around her, the pure devastation, it was gut wrenching. I was in a constant state of depression.
Tatiana said. “Go on with Dasha. She is right for you. She is a woman and I’m-” “Blind!”, Alexander exclaimed. Tatiana stood, desolately failing in the battle of her heart. “Oh, Alexander. What do you want from me…”
“Everything”, he whispered fiercely.”
Alexander is an officer in the Red Army. He is fierce and strong, and super protective of Tatiana. He goes above and beyond his duty to protect her. But the one thing he can’t protect her from, is his love. No matter what she says, he is always thinking of her. While he is trying to survive the war, he doing everything he can, for her.
“Tania, I was spellbound by you from the first moment I saw you. There I was, living my dissolute life, and war had just started. My entire base was in disarray, people were running around, closing accounts, taking money out, grabbing food out of stores, buying up the entire Gostiny Dvor, volunteering for the army, sending their kids to camp—” He broke off. “And in the middle of my chaos, there was you!” Alexander whispered passionately. “You were sitting alone on this bench, impossibly young, breathtakingly blonde and lovely, and you were eating ice cream with such abandon, such pleasure, such mystical delight that I could not believe my eyes. As if there were nothing else in the world on that summer Sunday.”
From a historic point of view, I was fascinated to learn about rations and how little they had. I never though about how little they had, before this book. I can’t even fathom the idea of having no food, or just a bit of bread for the whole day. Or even knowing, when you leave the house, you’ll walk past dead bodies on the street or come home to dead people on your own room. It actually made me a bit more thankful for what I have, and makes me want to be a bit more prepared, in case the world goes crazy. The words were so descriptive, you felt the starvation and pain, as they felt it. It was overwhelming at times. My brain still can’t wrap around the idea of 2 million people dying in such a short amount of time.
The romance part of this story is so beautiful. The words that Alexander speaks, to Tatiana, melt my heart. Her love for him is so strong, that she is willing to risk everything just to keep him alive. At so many points I thought there would be no happy ending, but then I’d remind myself that there are two more books. So things must turn around, at some point.
“Yes. Moan, moan as loud as you want. No one can hear you but me, and I came sisteen hundred kilometers to hear you, so moan, Tania.”
See?? Totally melting to the floor. *swoon*
The last half of the book was much better, in my opinion, than the first. Don’t get me wrong, it was still devastating, and no less dramatic, but at least there was a bit more happiness sprinkled in. But there was still plenty of tears flowing from my eyes. The amount of struggles that these two have to endure, just to be together, is so unbearable. The ending left me with tears streaming down my face. Part of me wants to start the next one right away, but I know my heart can’t take it right now, because it’s laying in pieces on the floor.