The Summer Gardenby Paullina Simons
The epic and monumental love story Paullina Simons began with her adored international bestseller The Bronze Horseman comes to a breathtaking conclusion. The Summer Garden is the third volume in Simons’s magnificent trilogy—a Russian Thorn Birds—which follows a love that survived the terrible siege of Leningrad during World War Two, a heartbreaking separation and a glorious reunion in America, only to be supremely tested by the hatred, fear, and uncertainty of the Cold War. You will never forget the lovers Tatiana and Alexander and their story of enduring love and commitment, and you will cherish every moment spent in The Summer Garden.
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The Summer GardenA Love Story
By Paullina Simons
William Morrow PaperbacksCopyright © 2011 Paullina Simons
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDeer Isle, 1946
Carapace n. a thick hard case or shell made of bone or chitin that covers
part of the body of an animal such as a lobster.
Once upon a time, in Stonington, Maine, before sunset, at the end
of a hot war and the beginning of a cold one, a young woman
dressed in white, outwardly calm but with trembling hands, sat on a
bench by the harbor, eating ice cream.
By her side was a small boy, also eating ice cream, his chocolate.
They were casually chatting; the ice cream was melting faster than the
mother could eat it. The boy was listening as she sang "Shine Shine
My Star" to him, a Russian song, trying to teach him the words, and
he, teasing her, mangled the verses. They were watching for the lobster
boats coming back. She usually heard the seagulls squabbling before she
saw the boats themselves.
There was the smallest breeze, and her summer hair moved slightly
about her face. Wisps of it had gotten out of her long thick braid, swept
over her shoulder. She was blonde and fair, translucent skinned, translucent
eyed, freckled. The tanned boy had black hair and dark eyes
and chubby toddler legs.
They seemed to sit without purpose, but it was a false ease. The
woman was watching the boats in the blue horizon single mindedly. She
would glance at the boy, at the ice cream, but she gawped at the bay
as if she were sick with it.
Tatiana wants a drink of herself in the present tense, because she
wants to believe there is no yesterday, that there is only the moment
here on Deer Isleone of the long sloping overhanging islands off the
coast of central Maine, connected to the continent by a ferry or a
thousand foot suspension bridge, over which they came in their RV
camper, their used Schult Nomad Deluxe. They drove across Penobscot
Bay, over the Atlantic and south, to the very edge of the world, into
Stonington, a small white town nested in the cove of the oak hills at
the foot of Deer Isle. Tatianatrying desperately to live only in the
presentthinks there is nothing more beautiful or peaceful than these
white wood houses built into the slopes on narrow dirt roads overlooking
the expanse of the rippling bay water that she watches day in and day
out. That is peace. That is the present. Almost as if there is nothing
But every once in a heartbeat while, as the seagulls sweep and weep,
something intrudes, even on Deer Isle.
That afternoon, after Tatiana and Anthony had left the house where
they were staying to come to the bay, they heard loud voices next door.
Two women lived there, a mother and a daughter. One was forty,
the other twenty.
"They're fighting again," said Anthony. "You and Dad don't fight."
Would that they fought.
Alexander didn't raise a semitone of his voice to her. If he spoke to
her at all, it was never above a moderated deep-well timbre, as if he
were imitating amiable, genial Dr. Edward Ludlow, who had been in
love with her back in New Yorkdependable, steady, doctorly Edward.
Alexander, too, was attempting to acquire a bedside manner.
To fight would have required an active participation in another human
being. In the house next door, a mother and daughter raged at each
other, especially at this time in the afternoon for some reason, screaming
through their open windows. The good news: their husband and father,
a colonel, had just come back from the war. The bad news: their husband
and father, a colonel, had just come back from the war. They had waited
for him since he left for England in 1942, and now he was back.
He wasn't participating in the fighting either. As Anthony and
Tatiana came out to the road, they saw him parked in his wheelchair
in the overgrown front yard, sitting in the Maine sun like a bush while
his wife and daughter hollered inside. Tatiana and Anthony slowed
down as they neared his yard.
"Mama, what's wrong with him?" whispered Anthony.
"He was hurt in the war." He had no legs, no arms, he was just a
torso with stumps and a head.
"Can he speak?" They were in front of his gate.
Suddenly the man said in a loud clear voice, a voice accustomed to
giving orders, "He can speak but he chooses not to."
Anthony and Tatiana stopped at the gate, watching him for a few
moments. She unlatched the gate and they came into the yard. He was
tilted to the left like a sack too heavy on one side. His rounded stumps
hung halfway down to the non-existent elbow. The legs were gone in
"Here, let me help." Tatiana straightened him out, propping the
pillows that supported him under his ribs. "Is that better?"
"Eh," the man said. "One way, another." His small blue eyes stared
into her face. "You know what I would like, though?"
"A cigarette. I never have one anymore; can't bring it to my mouth,
as you can see. And they"he flipped his head to the back"they'd
sooner croak than give me one."
Tatiana nodded. "I've got just the thing for you. I'll be right back."
The man turned his head from her to the bay. "You won't be back."
"I will. Anthony," she said, "come sit on this nice man's lap until
Mama comes backin just one minute."
Anthony was glad to do it. Picking him up, Tatiana placed him on
the man's lap. "You can hold on to his neck."
After she ran to get the cigarettes, Anthony said, "What's your name?"
"Colonel Nicholas Moore," the man replied. "But you can call me
"You were in the war?"
"Yes. I was in the war."
"My dad, too," said Anthony.
"Oh." The man sighed. "Is he back?"
Tatiana returned and, lighting the cigarette, held it to Nick's mouth
while he smoked with intense deep breaths, as if he were inhaling the
smoke not just into his lungs but into his very core. Anthony sat on
his lap, watching his face inhale with relief and exhale with displeasure
as if he didn't want to let the nicotine go. The colonel smoked two in
a row, with Tatiana bent over him, holding the cigarettes one by one
to his mouth.
Anthony said, "My dad was a major but now he's a lobsterman."
"A captain, son," corrected Tatiana. "A captain."
"My dad was a major and a captain," said Anthony. "We're gonna
get ice cream while we wait for him to come back to us from the sea.
You want us to bring you an ice cream?"
"No," said Nick, leaning his head slightly into Anthony's black hair.
"But this is the happiest fifteen minutes I've had in eighteen months."
At that moment, his wife ran out of the house. "What are you doing
to my husband?" she shrieked.
Tatiana scooped Anthony off the man's lap. "I'll come back tomorrow,"
she said quickly.
"You won't be back," said Nick, gaping after her.
Now they were sitting on the bench eating ice cream.
Soon there was the distant squawk of gulls.
"There's Daddy," Tatiana said breathlessly.
The boat was a twenty-foot lobster sloop with a headsail, though
most fishing boats were propelled by gas motors. It belonged to Jimmy
Schuster, whose father, upon passing on, passed it on to him. Jimmy
liked the boat because he could go out in it and trawl for lobsters on
his owna one-man job, he called it. Then his arm got caught in
the pot hauler, the rope that pulls the heavy lobster traps out of the
water. To free himself, he had to cut off his hand at the wrist, which
saved his lifeand him from going to warbut now, with no small
irony, he needed deckhands to do the grunt work. Trouble was all
the deckhands had been in Hürtgen Forest and Iwo Jima the last four
Ten days ago Jimmy had got himself a deckhand. Today, Jimmy was
in the cockpit aft, and the tall silent one was standing pin straight, at
attention, in orange overalls and high black rubber boots, staring intently
at the shore.
Tatiana stood from the bench in her white cotton dress, and when
the boat was close enough, still a bay away, she flung her arm in a
generous wave, swaying from side to side. Alexander, I'm here, I'm here,
the wave said.
When he was close enough to see her, he waved back.
They moored the boat at the buyers' dock and opened the catches
on the live tanks. Jumping off the boat, the tall man said he would be
right back to off-load and clean up and, rinsing his hands quickly in
the spout on the dock, walked up from the quay, up the slope to the
bench where the woman and the boy were sitting.
The boy ran down to him. "Hey," he said and then stood shyly.
"Hey, bud." The man couldn't ruffle Anthony's hair: his hands were
Under his orange rubber overalls, he was wearing dark green army
fatigues and a green long-sleeved army jersey, covered with sweat and
fish and salt water. His black hair was in a military buzz cut, his gaunt
perspiring face had black afternoon stubble over the etched bones.
He came up to the woman in pristine white who was sitting on the
bench. She raised her eyes to greet himand raised them and raised
them, for he was tall.
"Hey," she said. It was a breathing out. She had stopped eating her
"Hey," he said. He didn't touch her. "Your ice cream is melting."
"Oh, I know." She licked all around the wafer cone, trying to stem
the tide but it was no use, the vanilla had turned to condensed milk
and was dripping. He watched her. "I can never seem to finish it before
it melts," she muttered, getting up. "You want the rest?"
"No, thank you." She took a few more mouthfuls before she threw
the cone in the trash. He motioned to her mouth.
She licked her lips to clean away the remaining vanilla milk. "Better?"
He didn't answer. "We'll have lobsters again tonight?"
"Of course," she said. "Whatever you want."
"I still have to go back and finish."
"Yes, of course. Should we, um, come down to the dock? Wait with
"I want to help," said Anthony.
Tatiana vigorously shook her head. She would not be able to get the
fish smell off the boy.
"You're so clean," said Alexander. "Why don't you stay here with
your mother? I'll be done soon."
"But I want to help you."
"Well, come down then, maybe we'll find something for you to do."
"Yes, nothing that involves touching fish," muttered Tatiana.
She didn't care much for Alexander's job as a lobsterman. He reeked
of fish when he returned. Everything he touched smelled of it. A few
days ago, when she had been very slightly grumbling, almost teasing,
he said, "You never complained in Lazarevo when I fished," not teasing.
Her face must have looked pretty crestfallen because he said, "There's
no other work for a man in Stonington. You want me to smell like
something else, we'll have to go somewhere else."
Tatiana didn't want to go somewhere else. They just got here.
"About the other thing . . ." he said. "I won't bring it up again."
That's right, don't bring up Lazarevo, their other moment by the sea
near eternity. But that was thenin the old blood soaked country. After
all, Stoningtonwith warm days and cool nights and expanses of still
and salty water everywhere they looked, the mackerel sky and the purple
lupines reflecting off the glass bay with the white boatsit was more
than they ever asked for. It was more than they ever thought they would
With his one good arm, Jimmy was motioning for Alexander.
"So how did you do today?" Tatiana asked him, trying to make conversation
as they headed down to the dock. Alexander was in his big heavy
rubber boots. She felt impossibly small walking by his side, being in his
overwhelming presence. "Did you have a good catch?"
"Okay today," he replied. "Most of the lobsters were shorts, too small;
we had to release them. A lot of berried females, they had to go."
"You don't like berried females?" She moved closer, looking up at
Blinking lightly, he moved away. "They're good, but they have to be
thrown back in the water, so their eggs can hatch. Don't come too close,
I'm messy. Anthony, we haven't counted the lobsters. Want to help me
Jimmy liked Anthony. "Buddy! Come here, you want to see how
many lobsters your dad caught today? We probably have a hundred
lobsters, his best day yet."
Tatiana leveled her eyes at Alexander. He shrugged. "When we get
twelve lobsters in one trap and have to release ten of them, I don't
consider that a good day."
"Two legals in one trap is great, Alexander," said Jimmy. "Don't worry,
you'll get the hang of this. Come here, Anthony, look into the live
Keeping a respectful distance, Anthony peered into the tank where
the lobsters, already banded and measured, were crawling on top of one
another. He told his mother he didn't care much for their claws, even
bound. Especially after what his father told him about lobsters: "They're
cannibals, Ant. Their claws have to be tied up or they would eat each
other right in the tank."
Anthony said to Jimmy, his voice trying not to crack, "You already
Alexander shook his head at Jimmy. "Oh, no, no," Jimmy quickly
said. "I was busy hosing down the boat. I just said approximately. Want
"I can't count past twenty-seven."
"I'll help you," said Alexander. Taking out the lobsters one by one,
he let Anthony count them until he got to ten, and then carefully, so
as not to break their claws, placed them in large blue transfer totes.
At last Alexander said to Anthony, "One hundred and two."
"You see?" said Jimmy. "Four for you, Anthony. That leaves ninety-
eight for me. And they're all perfect, as big as can be, right around a
five-inch carapacewhich means shell, bud. We'll get 75 cents a piece
for them. Your dad is going to make me almost seventy-five dollars
today. Yes," he said, "because of your dad, I can finally make a living."
He glanced at Tatiana, standing a necessary distance away from the
spillage of the boat. She smiled politely; Jimmy nodded curtly and didn't
Excerpted from The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons Copyright © 2011 by Paullina Simons. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow Paperbacks. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Paullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Now this book is very different from the first two books, but still very good. Instead of seeing your sweet love story you saw in the first book, the relationship is now more realistic, dealing real life problems. Their relationship has their problems (what relationship doesn't), but you still see that they love to each other. I don't agree with the other reviews on this story, that not only ruin the book before you read it, but claims disappointment that their love is not an 'oh so perfect love'. However, I think the author tries to make their relationship more like the relationships you do see around your own world. She has them overcome problems and shows their agony and disappointments in each other and how they deal with it. Now my only problem with this book is towards the end... too many things going on with the children and their children's children that it gets a bit chaotic, but by the time you make it to the last chapter, it ends quite simply, it ends how we all imagine true love, 'oh so perfect love', to end... to grow old with each other...
The intensity and passion of the first two novels is shifted as Tatia and Shura, forever changed by years of war-torn separation, relearn who they are as a couple. They survived terrible upheavals in The Bronze Horseman and distance and loss in Tatiana and Alexander. Now, two very changed people doggedly renew their enduring love, seize the happiness they once knew, and forge ahead in America to reclaim their life together. Sound like a fairy tale? It is not because the adjustments necessary to rekindle their lost love are heart wrenching and difficult. Their commitment to each other, however, is unfailing. Their young son, Anthony, captures the irony of his parents' transitions early on when he says, "My dad was a major (in the war), but now he's a lobsterman." They live in Maine. Shortly later, they move to a houseboat in Miami. San Antonio, Texas. New Mexico. The Napa Valley of California. Each move brings excruciatingly slow healing. Alexander recovers from PTSD. Tatiana strives to soothe him and reignite their former passion. Their son, Anthony, tries to make sense of the emotional rollercoaster his parents ride. Their lives are rife with conflict, compassion and compromise. Freedom in their new home is impeded by the political complications of a US citizen who served as a Russian officer living in Communist-wary America. Finally, they settle in Arizona on the land Tatiana wisely purchased in the previous book. Can they ever carve out a normal life after what they have been through? Although part of a trilogy, the book stands on its own. Slower paced, it is richly drawn. Flashbacks from the two preceding novels fill in the story for the reader. Within its pages lie hate, happiness, intimacy, betrayal, struggle, war, peace, the joy and pain of children. Simons concentrates on the two main characters. Even if you haven't read the first two books, you will care about Tatiana and Alexander deeply. Although stubborn, passionate and wounded, they simply do not give up on their love for each other. The development of secondary characters was cast aside, except for the son, Anthony. At age five, he learns to sing in Russian and English-and to change the magazine cartridge in his father's Colt M 1911 in six seconds. He eventually makes his way to West Point, Vietnam and into the presence of President Reagan. Despite its unique emotional and suspenseful qualities, the book's focus on unnecessary minutiae dulls its impact. The incessant love-making scenes, although perhaps a metaphor for the healing in the marriage, become tiresome. The emphasis on the education and marriages of grandchildren seems a digression. An editor's pen could have condensed the rambling wordiness into a fast-paced epic. The book is highly recommended to devotees of the trilogy. If you haven't read the first books, but love an unpredictable romantic melodrama which yanks your emotions to and fro, you will enjoy The Summer Garden. The review copy was graciously provided by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
This is one of the realist books I have ever read. It is so emotional and this is definitely a must read series.
And on and on it goes. 50 pages left will this ever end?
I am not sure how true lovers of TBH and T&A could review this badly. Yes, its different from the first two, but its real and relatable. These people are real people in the US and after all theyve been through, they need to heal. They face struggles of the everyday. And yet their love prevails. Beautiful in such a different way.
Absolutely loved the first two books of this series. Unfortunately I read the third one. I would have been very happy leaving my imagination to fill in the happy ending from the second's ending. The writing style is fairly consistent to her first two books... Too much so, its as if the characters don't age. By the end of this book, Tatiana and Alexander are in the 70s and still so in love, and physically attracted to each other - not something I really want to picture. This books focuses much more so on Alexanders distress dealing with PTSD and then later on his self-imagined martial problems. You end up being very angry with his character... Their relationship is a train wreck, not what you would have imagined after what they'd been through in Russia. And the absolute worst part, is there is so much fluff in this book! The entire flash back chapters to Tatiana's summer in Luga are pointless, annoying, never-ending, and drawn out extensively. Then the end of the book takes forever describing a holiday dinner and every single detail to every single one of their 30 grandchildren. I wish this book concentrated more on telling the story of how to deal with a husband with PTSD, rather its a taking you in circles to no point or end. Again, LOVED the first and second. Might as well read this book if you're a fan, but be ready for disappointment.
I could not put the first two books of this trilogy down. "The Bronze Horseman" has become one of my top five favorite books of all time, and I m a lifelong voracious reader. I loved the second book, but "The Summer Garden" was, at times, most difficult to get through. The day to day existance of Tatiana and Alexander could have been condensed into another 200 pages of the second book. Too much dialog, too much sex, waaay too much sex, and too much minutia of going to the grocery store and eating in restaurants, and swimming in their swimming pool had me nodding off on more than one occasion. And the vietnam senario was, to me, overkill and a bit unbelievable. Then there was the author's need to provide us with details of the grandchildren and great grandchildren. While I kept reading to the end because I was devoted to the characters of Tatiana and Alexander, I found myself wishing that their story had been wrapped up at the end of the second book. Still...I will be forever grateful I discovered this wonderful author and her "Bronze Horseman". That truly beautiful book will stay on my shelf of favorites for a long time.
I loved the first book in this series...so much so that it's my favorite book now. The second book wasn't as good, but I still enjoyed it. I wish I didn't read this last one. I've actually tried to forget it by rereading the first, bc the events in this book almost ruin their entire story. First, it was boring. While I couldn't put down The Bronze Horseman, I could barely read through two chapters of this before setting it aside. I had to force myself to finish it, and I wish I hadn't, because I started to hate Alexander for acting in a way that was completely out of character and unbelievable. He was amazing until almost the end, then does something horrible, and I'm supposed to love him again by the end? Also, the ending had way too much going on, trying to introduce their entire family. I'm so upset with how this ended...I wish she would write a new ending and throw this one out.
A great trilogy!! A must. I couldn't put it down. All three were great. I do think the first one "Bronze Horseman" was my favorite. all three deserve a 5 star rating.
Having survived the 1941 Nazi siege of Leningrad and Stalin's brutal response, Tatiana and Alexander were kept apart but with WWII over they fled the Soviet Union. They reunite in the United States becoming Americans. Accompanied by their son Anthony the duo decided to stay in Arizona. The couple struggles to overcome the reality of being strangers in many respects to one another. Still they believe they belong together. As they learn who each other is, Anthony joins the army to fight for his country in Vietnam. When Tatiana and Alexander learn Anthony is missing in action, the former Soviet officer travels to Nam to find his son and bring him home to his mother. This is a fabulous finish to the strong romantic trilogy of the two Russian expatriates. Their post WWII drama in the States differs from the harrowing danger of surviving hostilities including from their homeland as now the tsuris is personal. As the couple deals with battle fatigue, matrimonial problems caused by their separation, and their son's MIA status, readers will appreciate the end of their ballad as the Cold War becomes frequently heated. Using flashbacks, Paulina Simons provides an epic twentieth century saga (see The Bronze Horseman, and Tatiana and Alexander). Harriet Klausner
This is the best book out of the trilogy, and I didn't think that was possible!
As much of a fan as I am I don't even want to go near this book if it's going to compramise the way I feel about my boloved Tatiana and Alexander.
My least favorite of the trilogy because it went on and on and on. It was never ending. I hated Carmen. But still a beautiful love story.
Whew what can I say? This is an excellent series. It is almost emotionally overwhelming! It's brilliantly written. As you read you feel every heart break and joy Tatiana and Alexander feel. I highly recommend this series. Just make sure your laundry is caught up and you have plenty of sandwich meats and bread so your family can eat while you read. Trust me, you won't be able to put this series down to do anything else!
This whole series...u miss them when its over
This is the third book in a trilogy. Start with the Bronze Horseman. This book is amazing! The trilogy are my favorite books and I'm an voracious reader. This is a beautiful love story. I absolutely LOVED how Paullina Simons ended this trilogy. MUST READ!!!
Realistic and emotionallyengaging
Fabulous read. I hated to see the trilogy end.
First off, I put off buying this book for two weeks because of some of the poor reviews on this site. I needed a book to read for a trip and decided to give it a try anyway. I'm so glad that I did. I VERY MUCH enjoyed this book, probably more so than the second one. For those who wanted everything tied up nice and neat after the second book, this one probably isn't for you. Yep, there were things in it I didn't care for but that's how life goes. Again demonstrated in this book is the strength and resilience of the characters and their love for each other. I thought it was a very practical and perfect ending to a timeless love story.