The Bridge to Holy Cross

Tatiana is eighteen years old and pregnant when she miraculously escapes war-torn Leningrad to the West, believing herself to be a widow. Her husband, Major Alexander Belov, a decorated hero of the Soviet Union, has been arrested by Stalin’s infamous secret police and is awaiting execution as a traitor and a spy.

Tatiana begins her new life in America. In wartime New York City she finds work, friends and a life beyond her dreams. However, her grief is inescapable and she keeps hearing Alexander calling out to her.

Meanwhile, Alexander faces the greatest danger he’s ever known. An American trapped in Russia since adolescence, he has been serving in the Red Army and impersonating a Soviet citizen to protect himself. For him, Russia’s war is not over, and both victory and defeat will mean certain death.

As the Second World War moves towards its horrific close, Tatiana and Alexander are surrounded by the ghosts of their past and of each other. In the ruins of Europe, Alexander can’t escape Stalin’s power. Far away, Tatiana must think first of their son Anthony. They must struggle against destiny and despair in the fight of their lives.

A master of historical epic, Paullina Simons takes us on a journey across continents, time and the entire breadth of human emotion, to create a heartrendingly beautiful love story that will live long after the final page is turned.


"What to say, what to say? I've been waiting to read Tatiana & Alexander since September 23, 2001 at 4:35 PM, give or take a few minutes. That's when I finished Simon's wonderful, heartbreaking epic story The Bronze Horseman. If you've read that book, you'll know why I immediately needed to get my hands on the sequel and why it's been so agonizingly long in arriving. But arrive it has, at least in Britain and Australia. And I'm extremely happy to report that it isn't as good as I was expecting - it's better. When the book begins Jane Barrington, née Tatiana Metanova, is living on Ellis Island and caring for her small son Anthony Alexander. Having escaped from the Soviet Union through Finland, through Sweden, across the Atlantic Ocean, onto Ellis Island, and into a brand-new American life, she should feel safe, she should feel relieved, she should feel free. But all she feels is grief for her lost husband Alexander, dead in the Soviet Union, another casualty to Stalin's inhuman empire. However, though Tatiana is unaware of it, Alexander isn't dead. Unfortunately, he isn't much better off. He is now the NKVD's plaything, and they will decide his fate, whether death by firing squad, internment in the gulag, or fodder for the war machine. Any way he looks at it, his odds aren't good. But Alexander has one thing that keeps him going, keeps him marching, keeps him fighting, and keeps him living. He knows Tatiana is out there, out of the reach of the possessive fingers of Soviet destruction, and with her is their child. He carries her blood in his veins and her soul in his heart. How can he die before seeing her again? He can't. Though death seems inevitable, Tatiana escaped it, and so must he. Though I would love to babble on about what happens in the remaining 500 pages, unfortunately that is all I can tell you about the plot without giving away key points. I can tell you that the book proceeds at a steady clip and that both the tension and the emotion in the story are very high at all times. If you don't read Tatiana & Alexander with your heart in your throat the whole time, you either have no heart or you have no throat. I read the end of the book first and I was still riveted. It's difficult to separate this book from The Bronze Horseman. They are less like a book and its sequel than two volumes of the same novel. In many ways The Bronze Horseman is Tatiana's book. It is told almost entirely from her perspective, and the details of the Siege of Leningrad and the war in general are filtered through her lens. Tatiana & Alexander is Alexander's book. Some of the backstory found in the first book is repeated, but this time we see how he saw those same events. Simons also includes much more about Alexander's childhood and how exactly he came to be in the Soviet Union in the first place. Simons deftly includes a great amount of detail about World War II, Soviet life, Soviet policies, everyday existence in the ranks, and the fate of Eastern Europe. The horror that was the Soviet Union is fully exposed. The heartbreaking tragedy of the Russians is not the focus of the book, but it is all around Alexander, and Tania's memories are steeped in it. So often books on World War II focus on D-Day or the Blitz or the Holocaust, and none of the suffering in those events can ever be diminished. But World War II devastated Russia. Completely destroyed it. Hundreds of thousands of blokadniki, 5 million POW's, a total of 20 million Soviet citizens were dead by June 1945. The eastern Soviet Union was a wasteland when Germany retreated. All of this is clearly portrayed in Alexander's journey. The book is not without lighter moments, however. Some biting, black Soviet humor is present, and romantic moments are interspersed throughout. And while this book is set during war, it is not a war novel. Simons never forgets whose story this is: Tatiana and Alexander's. The focus remains on them. And what wonderful characters they are, both of them so strong, so heroic, and yet so human. It's hard to imagine that Simons could have added more dimension to them. They were so utterly real to me in The Bronze Horseman that I found myself praying for them and then feeling foolish. But Alexander's perspective adds extra layers and additional shading, and they seem even more complex and fully formed in Tatiana & Alexander. Tatiana & Alexander took me four days of total absorption to read. I do not recommend reading it independently of The Bronze Horseman. I had read the first book at least three times and still had it lying open the entire time I was reading the sequel. If you haven't read The Bronze Horseman, what are you waiting for? And if you have, I'm betting you don't even need this review. But I'm happy to tell you that I wasn't disappointed with Alexander and Tatiana's story in any way. Both of these books would definitely accompany me to the Desert Isle." —Rachel Potter