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

Marrying the Romanov heir, nineteen-year-old Danish princess Minnie becomes empress of Russia and treads a perilous path of compromise in a beloved but resistance-torn country where her son becomes the last tsar.

C. W. Gortner holds an MFA in writing, with an emphasis on historical studies, from the New College of California. He is the internationally acclaimed and bestselling author of Mademoiselle Chanel, The Queen’s Vow, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Last Queen, The Vatican Princess, and Marlene, among other books. He divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala. To learn more about his work and to schedule a book group chat with him, please visit his website.

*Starred Review* Though many are familiar with the story of Nicholas and Alexandra and their doomed children, Gortner (Marlene, 2016) shines a rose-tinted fictional spotlight on Empress Maria Feodorovna. Formerly Princess Dagmar of Denmark, "Minnie" weds the heir to the Russian throne at 19. Acclimating herself to the heady Russian culture of the late nineteenth century, she becomes czarina and the mother of Nicholas II, destined to be the last Russian czar. When an ill-prepared and ill-advised Nicholas ascends to the throne, he seals his family's tragic fate by naively refusing to accept any proposed court reforms. Equally as entrenched as her husband, Alexandra falls under the sway of the nefarious Rasputin. Minnie, however, recognizes the need to accept change. Struggling against her son, her daughter-in-law, and the tides of history in an ill-fated effort to preserve some vestiges of an outmoded way of life, she bears witness to the Romanov dynasty's inevitable collapse. Gortner, an experienced hand at recreating the unique aura of a particular time and place, will deftly sweep historical-fiction fans into this glamorous, turbulent, and ultimately tragic chapter in history. Publication is timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the murder of the czar's family on July 16, 1918, so expect interest to be high. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A Danish princess becomes a Russian czarina, mother to the last Romanov czar. In his 10th historical novel, Gortner (The Vatican Princess, 2016, etc.) creates a vibrant portrait of imperial Russia, narrated by the woman at its throbbing center: Maria Feodorovna. The daughter of Denmark's King Christian IX, Minnie, as she was known, was destined to marry into royalty, just as her older sister, Alix, did when she married Queen Victoria's son, Bertie. Faced with a marriage to the czarevich, Nicholas, she was surprised to find herself falling in love with "his gentle spirit and noble soul." But suddenly, he was dying, exacting a promise from Sasha, one of his brothers, to wed Minnie. When Minnie balks at the idea of marrying a man so unlike her beloved Nixa, her mother rebukes her sternly: "Think of everything you can achieve," not only as "conscience and counsel" for her husband, but also for the good of Denmark. As Maria Feodorovna, she arrives in a nation beset by turmoil and violence. Although her father-in-law, Czar Alexander II, enacted liberal changes, such as abolishing serfdom, Nihilists and anarchists cry for more: "they sow terror in the hope that I'll either grant reforms or abdicate. Preferably abdicate," Alexander tells Minnie. "They have no use for a tsar." While Russian royalty reside in opulent palaces and bedeck themselves in stunning arrays of precious jewels, peasants live in abject poverty. Visiting a Red Cross hospital, Maria is shocked by the "searing display of the plight of the poor." When Alexander II is assassinated, Sasha emerges as an oppressive ruler, trying to contain bloody dissension. When he dies of illness, he is succeeded by his son, Nicholas, whose czarina, Alexandra—whom Maria vehemently dislikes—has her own ideas about Russian supremacy, fueled in part by her alliance with the unsavory Rasputin. Politics and war form the backdrop of a story more closely focused on court gossip, family tensions, and t he arrogance and isolation that led the Romanovs to their doom. "We existed in a dream," Maria reflects, "enclosed in our lacquered splendor." A briskly narrated tale of power and revolution. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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