cover image The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna

The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna

C.W. Gortner. Ballantine, $28 (464p) ISBN 978-0-425-28616-6

Gortner’s mesmerizing historical novel (following The Vatican Princess) depicts the remarkable life of the mother of the last Russian tsar. In the 1860s, Princess Dagmar of Denmark (aka Minnie) succumbs to the charms of Tsarevich Nixa, son of Tsar Alexander II, and heir to the Russian throne. Their joyous engagement is thwarted when Nixa contracts meningitis and dies; on his deathbed, he asks his brother Sasha to marry Minnie. Sasha, a member of the Imperial Guard, is gruff and initially unappealing to Minnie, but she agrees to marry him. When revolutionaries strike, killing Tsar Alexander II, and Sasha is crowned Tsar Alexander III, Minnie takes on her duties as Tsarina Maria Feodorovna. With Russia still ripe for rebellion, Minnie helps Sasha lead the country and supports charitable causes while trying to protect her family from harm. After Sasha’s death and her son Nicky’s coronation, Minnie’s influence over the new tsar dwindles when Nicky marries Alexandra, who admires Rasputin. This insightful first-person account of the downfall of the Romanov rule will appeal to history buffs; at its core, it’s the powerful story of a mother trying to save her family and an aristocrat fighting to maintain rule in a country of rebellion, giving it an even broader appeal. [em]Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary. (July) [/em]