It felt like this year has raced past in little more than a few weeks but time does fly when one has a good book at hand. The literary giants of the book world have gone into gladiatorial battle to get our eyes onto their pages. You couldn’t turn a corner without being met another goliath tome like The Secret Chord (Brooks), Purity (Franzen) or A Little Life (Yanagihara). And of course, we’re all still reeling from the massive release that was Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. The international bestselling author wrote this gem all of 55 years ago ever since announcing that it would go to press this July, the book world has been in a frenzy!
Only a few chapters into writing her first story set in Russia, her mother country, Paullina Simons travelled to Leningrad (now St Petersburg) with her beloved Papa. What began as a research trip turned into six days that forever changed her life, the course of her family, and the novel that became The Bronze Horseman.
After a quarter-century away from her native land, Paullina and her father found a world trapped in yesteryear, with crumbling stucco buildings, entire families living in seven-square-metre communal apartments, and barren fields bombed so badly that nothing would grow there even fifty years later. And yet there were the spectacular white nights, the warm hospitality of family friends and, of course, the pelmeni and caviar.
At times poignant, at times inspiring and funny, this is both a fascinating glimpse into the inspiration behind the epic saga, and a touching story of a family's history, a father and a daughter, and the fate of a nation.