In her internationally bestselling trilogy, Paullina Simons introduced Tatiana Metanova, one of the most remarkable heroines in contemporary fiction. The unforgettable story of her lifelong love affair with American soldier, Alexander Barrington has warmed and broken hearts across the globe.
Now comes the final, delicious chapter: a collection of Tatiana's favourite recipes, the first truly epic cookbook, which spans the second half of the twentieth century and two continents, through times of war, times of famine, times of peace, and times of plenty.
Here are delectable peaks into the life and love of Tatiana and Alexander as well as their children and grandchildren. From traditional Russian cuisine to American staples, to exotic dishes with international flair, Tatiana's Table is full of twists and turns to delight readers and food lovers everywhere.
I am a huge Paullina Simons fan (including a mod on her reader forums) but as I read this book, I couldn't help but wonder about what the intention was when writing it. As far as I can tell, it is a response to requests for more Tatiana and Alexander, because it doesn't seem to add all that much to the trilogy.
Now that paragraph probably makes it sound as though I didn't enjoy this book, but I did! I really did, but this is definitely a book for existing fans of the trilogy that started with The Bronze Horseman, The Bridge to the Holy Cross (also published under the title Tatiana and Alexander in some places) and The Summer Garden. What I don't think that this book will do is to draw new fans to the series, because if you picked up this book having not read any of the others then you certainly wouldn't understand what was going on, and I doubt that it would really inspire you to pick up the other books.
So what is this book? It really is mostly a cookbook, which is interesting seeing as it was labeled as fiction at the bookstore. The book is broken into several sections that reflected various phases and locations throughout Tatiana and Alexanders life, starting from their childhoods, through the blockade of Leningrad, to Tatiana's time in New York and then a couple of other locations through to their life in Arizona.
Amongst the anecdotes, there are definitely things that build upon things that we already knew from reading the trilogy. For example, throughout The Bronze Horsemen we are told that Tatiana and her sister Dasha were very close, but this book actually shows that closeness - the way that when they were both starving during the blockade Tatiana and Dasha would cuddle under the blankets to try and keep warm and Dasha telling Tatiana how to cook many of their family favourites. There are also lots of other little interesting glimpses like Tatiana and Vicki in Vietnam, and small anecdotes about the other children who didn't really have a lot of focus on them in the earlier books.
My favourite anecdote was definitely Tatiana and Alexander's 50th anniversary celebrations, and the what if question that was asked. What if Tatiana had never found Alexander - would they have been apart forever or would they eventually find each other again.
Oh, and I should mention that some of these recipes sound really, really good! There are definitely a few that I am going to try one day!
The strange thing about Paullina's books is how little availability there is in other markets, particularly the US, especially seeing as she is an American author. The second and third books are only available through bookclubs such as Book of the Month Club and Double Day. I have no idea whether this book is going to be made available in the US or not, but if anyone is desperate to get hold of this one let me know and I can get you some links, or come to some arrangements to assist.
In summary, if you are already a fan of The Bronze Horseman trilogy then you will really enjoy this book. Paullina Simons has also confirmed that this is the last glimpse into Tatiana and Alexander's life - it is time to move on, and her next book, called The Bartered Bride is to due to come out in Australia and New Zealand in November! I am looking forward to it!