The Compulsive Reader: The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

Laura is an American student studying in Leningrad for a semester. Being in the Soviet Union is nothing like Laura expected—everything is cold, dark, and bland. But then she meets Aloysha, who shows her a rich Russian history and culture she always read and dreamed about. Laura quickly falls in love, despite warnings about Soviet men who would marry her just to leave the country. Laura knows Aloysha isn’t using her, but she may not be prepared for the lengths she must go to preserve their new romance.

The Boy on the Bride is very different from Standiford’s earlier novels; the setting is grim and vaguely menacing, and Laura seems lost throughout most of the novel. Standiford includes plenty of slivers of dark and tantalizing history, but the majority of the story is focused on the romance between Laura and Aloysha, which never felt quite real. Aloysha never is a convincing suitor, and his overt fondness for Western culture causes warning bells to go off immediately in readers’ heads, even as Laura blindly falls in, love with him. The romance isn’t quite enough to keep readers entertained, but the details about the Soviet way of life, ranging from unusual to brutal, are a source of endless fascination.

Cover Comments: At a glance, I suppose this is a pretty cover, but I just have so many issues with it. First off, it's COLD in Russia. Very, very cold. And these characters would be wearing a LOT more clothing if it were snowing. Second, the novel takes place in Leningrad (St. Petersburg)...and it looks like the cover depicts a scene in Moscow (at first glace, it looks like St. Basil's Cathedral in the background but I could be wrong). These are picky things, but...hm. I don't think the cover matches the book at all, which is disappointing.

ARC picked up at BEA! Many thanks to the lovely Amy Rose Capetta for braving the crowds and snagging me a copy!


LinWash said...

Interesting premise. But I see what you mean about the cover. Not very convincing. While I do like a travel romance, I might hold off on this one, though the issue of whether Aloysha is or isn't using Laura is compelling.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I really never bought Aloysha as really in love-I always figured on him being a manipulator and that made this book hard for me to read.