Synopsis: 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.
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fiction, Adult
Cover: I love this cover so, so much. That’s what originally drew me to this book along with the title. I’d love to display this book on my shelf since it’s so beautiful and sad.
My thoughts: I picked up this novel knowing that I’d enjoy it because it’s a story set during WWII (which I love). I didn’t expect for this novel to be one of my most favorite stories I’ve read in a long time. The story is about a girl named Tatiana living in the Soviet Union during WWII. She lived with her parents, her sister, her grandparents, and her twin brother in a cramped two bedroom apartment when they heard the news that Hitler was advancing his army towards the USSR. Despite the impending war and rations being set on the USSR, Tatiana remained hopeful that the war wouldn’t reach her home. One day, on a walk through her town, Tatiana met the entrancing Alexander, a soldier in the Red Army, who managed to lighten the dark times she was about to face with the Second World War looming over her. The two fell into a whirlwind of a romance that could crumble her family to pieces while also risking Alexander’s safety, and yet, they couldn’t seem to tear apart from one another. With an epic love story set against the most brutal war of all time, Alexander and Tatiana faced devastating circumstances that can ruin not only themselves but their relationship that must be kept secret.
I have never read a more emotionally exhausting book than this one. I felt as though I was reading a soap opera because there were so many plot twists, dramatic scenes, and secrets that unfolded in a way that kept me glued to this book. Simply thinking about this novel after I’v finished it brings tears to my eyes from the sheer amount of emotion that this book brought out of me. There wasn’t a person in my life that I didn’t talk about this book to while I was reading it. I had to tell everyone about it because I easily became obsessed with this story. This book captured my heart and mind in a way I could never truly fathom, but I am so glad that it did. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, and breathtaking to read, and the moment I finished this novel I wiped my tears and bought the sequel because I had to know what happened.
Tatiana and Alexander go through so much in this novel that it exhausted me to read it at certain points. This novel is so sad and weighed down on me after a while that I had to sometimes step away from the book to take a breather and remind myself that it was simply fiction. There was so much anguish in this book and such heartbreaking circumstances Tatiana had to go through that it make me actually sad for a full day because I connected so much with the story.
So let’s talk about the infamous characters. Tatiana starts off in this story as a soft-spoken and easily manipulated character. She put everyone else first, and barely thought of herself. Her selflessness was a major factor in this novel along with her unyielding love for her sister, Dasha. She sacrificed so much for her family, including her love, so they could be happy which, at points annoyed the heck out of me. I wanted to yell at her to be selfish because her relentless selflessness made me wish that she would step up for herself and do things for her. One thing that I adored about this novel was her character growth. Tatiana was this innocent, selfless young girl who changed over the course of this lengthy novel into this stubborn, headstrong, powerful character that had this strength to remain so hopeful even during the darkest of times. The sheer amount of power she had to muster up during the winter in the USSR where she nearly died from starvation kept me on edge because I wasn’t sure if she was going to survive. The love she had for everyone she cared for was undying. She helped everyone around her to the very end, and I gave her so much credit for not breaking down considering she lost so much throughout this novel. I have never read a novel where a character lost so, so much and still had such hope for the future.
Now let’s talk about Alexander. Oh, Alexander. How I loved/hated this man. This whole story is centered around this forbidden love Alexander and Tatiana had for each other which mostly frustrated me in the best way possible. Alexander was enamored by Tatiana from the start, but there is something that stands in their way- Dasha. Tatiana, being the least selfish person out there, cannot date Alexander for
spoilery reasons. This forbidden love caused most of the drama throughout this novel that made me so annoyed and yet I couldn’t get enough of this story. Alexander was willing to do anything to make Tatiana happy. He went through great lengths to stand up for her, provide her and her family with food during the famine, and kept her protected from his greedy friend, Dimitri, who knew too much about Alexander’s past. But the cold facade he had on for majority of the book made me so angry with him. I just wanted them to be together finally, but I knew he was keeping himself distanced from Tatiana because she didn’t want to hurt Dasha’s feelings by dating Alexander. Another thing that made me angry with Alexander was his aggressiveness. He was a fierce protector of Tatiana who sometimes made foolish decisions for the ones she loved. At certain points of the story I wanted to yell at Alexander for being too domineering to Tatiana who he only wanted to help stand up to those around her. At the end of the day, I loved both of these characters that worked together and fell in love in such a beautiful and poetic way that I adored.
I loved this novel, as you can tell by the length review. I dove straight in to this story and even canceled plans simply to finish this gigantic book I am obsessed with. In my opinion, there wasn’t a dull moment in this book since I was full immersed in the world Tatiana was set in. Tatiana and Alexander’s star-crossed romance was so heartwarming to read considering they both, over the course of the story, risked their lives for the other in the most dangerous situations. Tatiana somehow found the will to keep holding on no matter how many loses she faced and how much anguish she overcame thanks to the horrors that came with WWII. Alexander fell hopelessly in love with Tatiana and did everything in his power to keep her happy even if it meant sacrificing all he had for her. This book wasn’t just a love story. It was a story of survival, hope, war, shocking secrets, family, and sacrifice. I am in awe to how moving this novel was, and although it felt as dramatic as a soap opera, it really connected with me and wormed its way into my favorite book pile I will always cherish.