Last night, in the early hours of the morning, I was curled up into a ball sobbing into a book I stole from my mum when she wasn’t looking.
There are some books that are a gift. An experience. A door into another world that will challenge us to feel things we’ve never felt before.
But when I opened the first page of Paullina Simons’ The Bronze Horseman, I didn’t expect to encounter a story that would fundamentally change how I think about the world.
I’d had half a dozen people recommend Simons’ book to me, and it’s always included in lists like “101 Book You Must Read Before You Die.” It’s about a girl named Tatiana, living in the Soviet Union just as the Second World War begins.
I’m obsessed with history and even I’m a little fatigued by wartime narratives. Often, they’re hard work and dense and I read them telling myself ‘it’s good for you’.
The Bronze Horseman, however, was something else entirely.
It's considered a romance novel though I'm not sure it fits so neatly into that category. The love story of 17-year-old Tatiana and Alexander Belov, a soldier in the Red Army, occurs upon the backdrop of the Siege of Leningrad, and presents a context so extraordinarily horrific that the details will remain etched into your memory.