Again, there are slight spoilers in this review, but I tried to keep them to a minimum.
The Summer Garden
The Tatiana and Alexander Series, Book 3
By Paullina Simons
The Summer Garden is the final book in the Tatiana and Alexander series, and chronicles Tatiana and Alexander Barrington’s life together as adults. The Barrington’s life is broken up into three different periods. Immediately after their return from Europe, they try to figure out life together – adjusting to peacetime and to being together. They struggle with trusting the government under which they now live, with fears of the Soviet Union, communism, and betrayal still so close to the surface.
As some of these fears and anxieties are dealt with, Tatiana and Alexander settle down to build a life together and for their family. Instead of worrying about being deported or thrown in prison, their emotions and anxieties are centered around what we worry about today – where to work and how to pay the bills, what our friends/coworkers are saying/thinking about us, jealousy and protectiveness over their spouse, how our children are raised and are developing…The couple are consumed by these worries, unhappy and fighting. It is probably the most difficult time in their relationship.
Tatiana and Alexander eventually moved past this period in their lives, in a series of tension-building scenes. The Barringtons reach an agreeable and comfortable point in their relationship. They are happy and blissful. They have the family and home they’ve always wanted. It’s not without problems and fears (nope, not going to tell you what they are), but Tatiana and Alexander have reached a more peaceful point in their lives.
Interspersed with the chronological journey through Tatiana and Alexander’s adulthood were interludes of Tatiana’s summers at her dacha* in Luga. These interludes provide additional insight into Tatiana’s personality and her relationships with twin brother Pasha and cousin Marina. In addition, they provide context for some of the references to these time periods throughout this final novel.
* Dacha is Russian for a family’s second house, where the family retreats to in the summer or for vacation. It was (and still is ) common for city-dwelling families to have dachas in the suburbs.
Recommendation: The Summer Garden was a wonderful way to finish this series. Most of the loose ends, holes, and questions were explained in this huge final book in the series. Like the previous books, you, the reader, could feel the characters’ every emotion throughout the book, to the point where some parts were hard for me to read. Everything I enjoyed about the previous books were present in the final book.
I was really interested to find out how the series ended… I’ve become so attached to Tatiana and Alexander but they endured so many struggles and so much heartache, that it wouldn’t have surprised me if the series ended with some sort of catastrophe. I don’t remember when I wanted a happy ending so badly, but I’m really glad Simons delivered on that!