THE SUMMER GARDEN begs the question: How much is too much when it comes to a great love story? I loved The Bronze Horseman (magnificent love scenes and page-turning readability); was 50-50 on Tatiana & Alexander (several of the subcharacters, and Tatiana's wanderings in America, really got on my nerves), but as for THE SUMMER GARDEN, this was stretching out the story just a bit too far.
It's not a bad book -- bad in the sense of being unreadable -- but, I had a hard time picking it up again once I put it down. Especially toward the end, when the chapters begin to speak to what's going on with the couple's children and grandchildren, it just became... very methodical, very slow. It wasn't a novel anymore, it was a list: Grandchild A married B, and had 3 children, C D and F... I honestly thought TATIANA & ALEXANDER did a better job of closing out this couple's story. Personally speaking, I didn't need any more.
This book is a marvelous conclusion to a beautiful, heartwrenching and heartwarming series. Some readers feel the sex is gratuitous, I think it is exactly right for these two characters who had only had a brief honeymoon, before years of separation - and part of their undeniable connection that was instant and permanent. We have all read and seen 50 year marriages, and heard from both the husband and wife how they saw each other and knew - and that knowledge and connection remained 50, 60 years.... we all wish for that. Alexander and Tatiana are massively in love and need each other to live - and their love life is evidence of that. I love every part of this book and thank Paullina from the bottom of my heart for such a stunning portrayal of a marriage and life through the cold war. It will be a permanent fixture on my bookshelf.
I had a different opinion than that of other readers of this last sequel to THE BRONZE HORSEMAN. I thought it didn't need to be written; that the story of Tatiana and Alexander ended very well with "Tatiana and Alexander". Frankly, I found this slow moving; the story is weak, with a segway into the Vietnam War that feels tacked-on and weird, and, the same things that bothered me about The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana & Alexander bothered me in THE SUMMER GARDEN, namely, that the only two characters who are really developed as characters are Tatiana and Alexander.
My advice is, stop reading about these characters after "Tatiana & Alexander". That book brings this love story to a great closure.
When Tatiana met and fell in love with her Red Army officer Alexander in 1941 Leningrad, an unstoppable chain of events was set into motion. And so began Paullina Simons's war-torn epic THE BRONZE HORSEMAN. The couple's story continued in TATIANA AND ALEXANDER, and now in THE SUMMER GARDEN, as the two are miraculously reunited in America after years of separation. With their young son, Anthony, by their side, happiness is at hand, but the anger and regret of war threatens to come between them and their remarkable love. This extraordinary story takes the reader on a journey spanning two-thirds of the twentieth century and three continents as it follows the conflicts and joys of a passionate and dramatic marriage.