Monday, November 07, 2016

Review: Six Days in Leningrad by Paullina Simons

Six Days in Leningrad - A Memoir by Paullina Simons


The never-before-told story of the journey behind THE BRONZE HORSEMAN, now in print for the first time.
From the author of the celebrated, internationally bestselling BRONZE HORSEMAN saga comes a glimpse into the private life of its much loved creator, and the real story behind the epic novels. Paullina Simons gives us a work of non-fiction as captivating and heart-wrenching as the lives of Tatiana and Alexander.
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.
I read The Bronze Horseman back in 2011. I had heard of Simons, but she writes mostly romance novels from what I had noticed, so I didn't get around to trying her. But, then I heard that The Bronze Horseman was a very in-depth look at WWII Leningrad and I was curious. I remember flying through the pages and loving the book. Then I had to get Tatiana & Alexander to see how everything played out. While it is a trilogy, the first two books were really the best because they actually took place during the war and showed the life of two people in a war-torn landscape. I didn't even mind the romance.

Like me and many authors out there, I have not really read much from Simons since that trilogy. But, when I heard that there was a memoir about her experiences revisiting Leningrad in order to research The Bronze Horseman, I knew I had to check it out. When you read a novel and do not know the author, it is easy to miss how their lives can inspire them. Paullina was born in Leningrad in 1963, but her family immigrated to the United States when she was 10. This book captures her return to Leningrad with her father. It was a very interesting read. She found that it put a totally new perspective on things when she looked at Leningrad from the view of an adult when last she had looked on it as a child. As someone that had a very different childhood, it was really quite fascinating to see a place I read about all the time from a different perspective.

I a very glad I got a chance to read this as part of a TLC Book Tour. It is something you definitely should check out if you were a fan of The Bronze Horseman, or if you are just curious about this type of perspective in general. Recommended!


  1. Interesting. And I'm fine with romance as long as more is going on.

  2. Great review. I agree, it's so interesting to learn more about the authors' inspirations for their writing. I haven't read anything by Simmons but have heard of her books. Should try one out one of these days!

  3. Russia, both currently and in the Soviet era, is a fascinating place for me - I can only imagine what it would have been like to live there. I'm looking forward to reading about Simons' experiences.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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