I am participating in the #GollanczFest week long challenge hosted by Gollancz this week. The challenge for day 1 is “the book that I recommend to everyone”. Among all the choices, I chose Bellagrand by my all time favourite author Paullina Simons.
I decided to post my review for this book. I can still feel the turmoil months after reading it. Bellagrand is book 2 in the prequel to The Bronze Horseman series.
O.M.G. Will I EVER be the same again? Will I ever recover from this? Will my tears stop and heart stop breaking?
Let me just start by saying that, Bellagrand has become my favourite book of all Paullina Simons’ books so far, even more so than The Bronze Horseman from an emotional level. Don’t get me wrong, TBH is still my favourite of all time, but Bellagrand has got to me mentally and emotionally like no other. It is easily the BEST and most DRAMATIC and most ANGSTY book I have ever read. It IS the HARDEST book I have ever read.
We start Harry and Gina’s story from this duology, book 1 Children of Liberty and book 2 Bellagrand, KNOWING how their story is going to end, how tragic is their love story, how their actions leads to their ultimate fate. So it messes with your head when you are reading it. All the tender moments, all the trouble-less days, all the heart felt declarations, blue skies, ocean breeze, all the passionate and consuming love makings, the promises, the whispers, all of these are the moments we treasure and treasure them even more because we KNOW it will not last, because we know how the story is going to end. It will be replaced by lies, betrayal, broken promises and every single character broken hearted.
THIS is why I love Paullina Simons. She makes me HATE Harry and Gina for their foolishness, selfishness, clueless, stupidness, but at the same time I cannot help but still LOVE them with all my heart, for their passions, for their mad love, for their disastrous love for each other, for their tragic ending.
Gina, I keep thinking has she chosen the wrong man? If she has chosen someone else, will she be happier, will she have the life she thought she wanted? As a woman, I feel for her. She has loved a man madly and deeply, whatever happens to him to their marriage, she holds on and holds on. That’s what love does to you, it makes you blind and bound. She makes her bed and that’s what she gets. “There was a fatality to it, a feeling so irresistible it has the force of doom, which invariably compelled human beings – you, your husband – to linger around and haunt, ghostlike, the spot where some great and marked event had given the color to your lifetime; and the more irresistibly you returned to that spot, the darker the tinge that saddened it. Every single thing in this world is marble and mud, my darling child. The only thing you can do is make the best of it.”
Harry, before I started reading Children of Liberty and Bellagrand, I thought to myself there is no way I will change my opinion about him from The Bronze Horseman… and I was so wrong. Harry is a fool, a coward, a spoiled only son of one of the wealthiest man in Boston, he is selfish and has no sense of responsibility; however I cannot help but fall madly in love with him, for his bookish charm, for his unique personality, for his dreams, for his crazy and mad love for Gina. This man is lost, so lost in his dreams he forgets about the reality. He is the reason the three of them have to leave the US and go to Russia, which has doomed them all with unthinkable future. I didn’t understand Harry but I think I do now. He has lived under the great name of Barrington, the great name of his ancestors, under the expectations of what a Barrington man should live and achieve. For Harry this is slavery, all the money, all the freedom from being THE one in the highest society has suffocated him. He wants to live a different life, a radical life from believing in a radical revolution and society. I thought I would hate him but I truly do not hate him. I feel so disappointed and sorry for him. I love him for his dreams, for what he is trying to achieve but hate him and am disappointed in him the way he has tried to achieve it. Harry is a dreamer, his belief and Gina and Alexander are all he has. What a lost soul, a lost lost soul. In one of his letters to Gina, he said “You know how you keep saying You’re such a dreamer, Harry. When you murmur it, it’s like a caress from your lips, it’s your love letter to me. A dreamer. This I freely admit. For when I dream, my beloved Sicilian princess, I dream of you.” What a great but disastrous love story.
Bellagrand has also given us Alexander Barrington. The love of my life. From his birth, he has captured the heart of EVERYONE. EVERYONE loves Shura, what a lovely lovely boy. The parts where he is growing up is one of the best parts of this series. I don’t think I can love Alexander more than I already do from The Bronze Horseman, but no, after Bellagrand, I have loved him even more. Knowing how he becomes the man he is in TBH really is the highlight of it all.
This is an unforgivable book. It touches your heart and soul. It wounded me deeply. Love stories have been written and told every single day, but this love story will for sure stay with me forever and ever. It is dramatic, it is angsty, it IS an epic tale for us to see. Every time I think about it, the wound will bleed, it reminds me of a tragic and disastrous, but a great love.
I will end my review with a quote from the book “If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I. Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; And the more it is bound, the less it is blind.”
5/5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Synopsis: They gave up everything to be together, but love was just the beginning of their journey…
Italian immigrant Gina, independent, compassionate and strong, desperately wants a family. Boston blue-blood Harry, idealistic and fiercely political, wants to create a better world, a better country. Bound together by tormented passion, they rail, rage, and break each other’s hearts, only to come face to face with a stark final choice that will forever determine their destiny.
Their journey takes them through four decades and two continents, through triumph and turmoil, from the wooden planks of the troubled, immigrant town of Lawrence, Massachusetts, to the marble halls and secret doors of a mystical place called… Bellagrand.
From internationally bestselling author Paullina Simons comes another compelling saga of heartbreak and redemption, and the devastating love story that led to The Bronze Horseman.
Keywords: historical fiction, romance, First World War, Soviet Union, Boston, communist