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The Romanov Empress : A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna
by C. W. Gortner


Overview - For readers of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir comes a dramatic novel of the beloved Empress Maria, the Danish girl who became the mother of the last Russian tsar.

Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

Narrated by the mother of Russia's last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia's most compelling women, who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in its final years.  Read more...


 
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More About The Romanov Empress by C. W. Gortner
 
 
 
Overview
For readers of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir comes a dramatic novel of the beloved Empress Maria, the Danish girl who became the mother of the last Russian tsar.

Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

Narrated by the mother of Russia's last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia's most compelling women, who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in its final years.

Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage--as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria's eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir, Alexander, and once he ascends the throne, becomes empress. When resistance to his reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie--now called Maria--must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

Her husband's death leaves their son Nicholas as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas's strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has led her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.

Praise for The Romanov Empress

" A] timely new historical novel . . . C. W. Gortner's] ability to weave what reads as a simple tale from such complex historical and familial storylines is impressive. . . . Maria's life as a royal reads like a historical soap opera."--USA Today

"Gortner, an experienced hand at recreating the unique aura of a particular time and place, will deftly sweep historical-fictions fans into this glamorous, turbulent, and ultimately tragic chapter in history."--Booklist (starred review)

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780425286166
  • ISBN-10: 0425286169
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • Publish Date: July 2018
  • Page Count: 448
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > Biographical
Books > Fiction > Literary

 
BookPage Reviews

Matriarch of a fallen dynasty

If there were ever a cautionary tale about the disasters of patriarchy and inequality, the tale of the Romanovs is it. C.W. Gortner’s engaging historical novel tells the story of the last dowager empress of Russia, Maria Feodorovna, née Princess Dagmar of Denmark.

Engaged as a teenager to the czarevich (the Russian heir apparent) who dies suddenly, Maria is handed over to his brother, the gruff Alexander III. Luckily for her, their marriage is a devoted one.

Despite (or because of) the unfathomable wealth and privilege of the Russian imperial family—they can literally get away with murder—the Russian people are getting tired of them. Nihilists finally blow up Maria’s father-in-law, Czar Alexander II, and other members of the czar’s family. And everyone knows the fate of Maria’s son Nicholas II and his family.

Is it possible that these tragedies did not have to happen? Under inhuman pressure to produce a male heir, Maria’s emotionally brittle daughter-in-law Alexandra gives birth to four healthy daughters before she finally produces a son, the hemophiliac Alexei. Because of the boy’s illness, Alexandra and Nicholas II fall under the spell of Rasputin. Consider what would have happened if Alexandra had her first two daughters, an heir and a spare, and was then allowed to quit.

Maria is fairly good-hearted, but forget about her checking her privilege. According to her, the czar and imperial family were ordained to rule by God. There is no scene in the book more heartbreaking or queasily funny than when Cossacks break into Maria’s bedroom in the middle of the night, and she reminds them that she’s the dowager empress—though by then, it hardly matters. The imperial downfall has already begun.

Gortner is wonderfully subtle, but given the times we live in, the problems are obvious: When a tiny percentage of people hold most of the wealth, it leads to demagoguery. The Romanov Empress relates an important piece of history. It’s also a warning about what comes when a nation is marred by rampant inequality.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
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