Okay, before I get into the review of this book… this is the third and final installment in a series by Paullina Simons. (Hence, there will be spoilers if you haven’t read the first two books.) The first book is The Bronze Horseman, and it was fantastic – definitely a 5-star read. The second book, called Tatiana and Alexander, was another wonderful book. I just realized that I never actually reviewed Tatiana and Alexander here on my blog, so click here for my review on Goodreads. So, here the third book, The Summer Garden, will be reviewed. I had been dying to read this for quite some time, to see how Tatiana and Alexander’s epic love story ends. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.
Tatiana and Alexander go through some seriously tragic stuff throughout the first two books – they meet the day that World War 2 stars in Russia, and have to beat impossible odds to be together. They are a wonderfully romantic and passionate couple, and after so much tragedy and grief, I was really looking forward to them starting their life together in America.
At first, they suffer through some pretty regular problems – Alexander is still haunted by his days as a Soviet solider, and it takes a long while for him to deal with that. Eventually, him and Tatiana work their problems out, and go to Arizona to see the land that Tatiana bought for them. They start to settle down, and though they encounter some problems, everything is going pretty well for them.
However, right here around the middle of the book, their relationship turns really, really crappy. I can’t help but rant about this, so highlight the following if you want to read the spoilers:
Tatiana starts to work as a nurse at a hospital, even though they don’t really need the money. This pisses of Alexander, but she says she’ll quit when they get pregnant. Except they’ve been trying for years, and haven’t gotten pregnant yet. They just stop communicating – Alexander doesn’t express why her working at a hospital is so upsetting to him, and Tatiana doesn’t explain why she wants to do it so badly, even after she sees how upset it’s making him. There is NO communication. Then, Alexander does the unspeakable and CHEATS on Tatiana. He almost had sex with this other woman, but doesn’t (somehow, he doesn’t think making out with another woman isn’t as bad as sleeping with another woman), and after they have a huge fight (in which he actually hits her), she reveals that she’s finally pregnant. Which is confusing, because they’ve been trying for ten years and all of the sudden she’s knocked up. He’s happy, she finally quits her job, and they go on to have many other kids and grandkids.
So yeah… I understand that the issues mentioned above her common in marriages in the 1950′s. I understand that if Tatiana and Alexander were real life people, this all actually might have been very realistic. But we love to read about great love stories because their love is so uncommon, and because they manage common problems better than the every-day couple. So to see their marriage take such a nasty turn was really, really upsetting. Sure, everything ends up happy-ever-after, but still.
Honestly, I wish that I hadn’t even known that this book existed, that I had never read it. I’m hoping that I can re-read the first two books next year and then forget that this third book was ever written.
Sarah Says: 1 star – do yourself a favor and read the first two books, but skip this one.