The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Monday, November 11, 2013

SIX DAYS IN LENINGRAD by Paullina Simons

Six Days in Leningrad by Paullina SimonsPublisher:  Harper Collins Publisher
Release Date:  August 1, 2013
Pages:  363

About the Book:
The never-before-told story of the journey behind The Bronze Horseman.

From the author of the celebrated, internationally bestselling Bronze Horseman saga comes a glimpse into the private life of its much loved author, 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-meter 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.

Wanda's Review:  This book started out a bit slow, but the pace soon picked up and made me eager to read on. If you've read The Bronze Horseman, you'll not want to miss this one.

Paullina Simons and her father (Papa) traveled all the way from Texas to Leningrad to search for a story about the blockade - her novel, The Bronze Horseman. This is an account of the author's return to her former home, as she steps back in time - a country she'd left behind when she was just ten years old. 

It was an arduous six days spent in Leningrad, but a few events really stand out in my mind. They searched for Paulinna's great grandmother's grave and became quite discouraged. About a quarter of the graves were unmarked and it was definitely not easy trudging over the cemetery. But it was the only thing her grandmother had asked her to do, and she was quite determined to find it.

Shepeleva was what Paullina thought of when she recalled her happiest memories. When they found the house, it looked so abandoned. It didn't look like her memory, the house where she spent the happiest months of her childhood. The sight of Shepelevo tore her up inside. They also visited the communal apartment where she was raised. She had to see the inside of the apartment where she spent time as a child.

The information on the Nevsky Patch grabbed my attention. It was the slaughterhouse of Leningrad. Two hundred forty thousand men perished there during the course of the war. They attempted to grow trees at this memorial site over and over again, but nothing would grow because the ground was full of metal. And to this day nothing grows on this fallow ground. 

The attention to detail is what makes this book so great. It is written with vivid imagery of scenes and splashes of humor are spread throughout. The book is completely absorbing and wonderfully written. My rating is 4 stars.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publisher for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

Author - Paullina Simons