The next Literary Dinner at my local pub, The Grand View, features Paullina Simons. Simons is a Russian-born American writer and the international best-selling author of the novels Tully, Red Leaves, Eleven Hours, The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana and Alexander, Lily and The Summer Garden.
My eldest daughter, Pocohontas, is not a big reader. Well, she is in that she consumes volumes of Government Legislation as well as travel guides to help plan holiday itineraries. But not fiction. This is the child who made me wade through 1500 pages of Book 1 in the Game Of Thrones series for a book club only to announce at the meeting that she was “too busy” to read so watched the tv program instead.
At one stage said daughter became very excited about The Bronze Horseman. “ Mo, you just have to read this one”. A romance novel, the book begins on 22 June 1941, the day Russia enters the Second World War after Operation Barbarossa. Tatiana Metanova, nearly seventeen, meets the handsome and mysterious Red Army officer Alexander Belov. The relationship between Tatiana and Alexander develops against the backdrop of the Siege of Leningrad and in the face of many difficulties.
Confession straight up. Romance and I don’t mix. It seems to have bypassed my DNA. However, I did read to the end and I did learn how the Russians, both soldiers and civilians, suffered during this period which was interesting.
A bright, young thing spied me reading The Bronze Horseman in the communal lunch room at the office. When she asked how I was finding it, I told her. Stupid me never did learn to keep my trap shut………… BYT proceeded to explain why it was her favourite book of all time and that it was a wonderful love story. I think she talked non stop for twenty minutes.
BYT is now a published Romance Writer and going great guns. What do I know?
My bug bear was that Tatiana carried around with her for some twelve months a pair of sexy knickers for when she had the chance to do the wild thing with Alexander. Starving, freezing, only one set of clothes, people falling all around her on the snow covered city streets and dying, and 1) she never changes her undies and 2) she never even contemplates trading them for biscuits, a chicken, or even a glass of vodka.
Realistic, I tell you, not romantic.