Children of Liberty

Written by Paullina Simons
Review by Andrea Connell

The Bronze Horseman and its sequels have captured the imagination and hearts of millions of readers. Now, Simons has written a prequel to her beloved series, in which she shares the love story of Alexander Belov’s parents: Harold Barrington, the son of a wealthy Boston blue-blood entrepreneur, and Gina (Jane) Attavianos, a Sicilian working-class immigrant, in the early 1900s.

Children of Liberty explores the immigrant experience at the turn of the century from a young girl’s perspective—with which the author personally identifies, as she immigrated to the United States as a young girl—and the forbidden love that draws Alexander’s parents together. It delves into the radical politics that set the stage for the couple’s tragic immigration to the Soviet Union, and class relations in early 20th-century New England.

If you are expecting another Bronze Horseman, however, you may be disappointed. The novel lacks the original’s powerful and gripping storytelling, gut-wrenching emotion, and fist-clenching intensity. At the same time, though, the love story is gracefully depicted and the character development is sufficient—simply not brilliant, compared to her other fine novels. The strong focus on the political side of the story may contribute to this; much of the discussion in the book revolves around Harry’s friend Ben’s explanation of his Panama Canal project and Harry’s and Gina’s political views. The conclusion also leaves readers with many unanswered questions.

If you are an ardent fan of The Bronze Horseman series, this novel adds a crucial missing piece to the back story of Alexander’s arrival in the USSR and is recommended, despite the flaws mentioned above.