Synopses & Reviews
The next in the bestselling trilogy the drama of a grand duchess and the peasant who determines her fate
As the Russia of Nicholas and Alexandra rushes toward catastrophe, the Grand Duchess Elisavyeta is ensconced in the lavish and magnificent Romanov court. In the same city, but worlds apart, Pavel is a simple village man in search of a better life. When his young wife, Shura, is shot and killed by tsarist soldiers during a political demonstration, Pavel dedicates his life to overthrowing the Romanovs. Pavels underground group assassinates Elisavyetas husband, the grand duke, changing her life forever.
Grief-stricken, the grand duchess gives up her wealth and becomes a nun dedicated to the poor people of Russia. When revolution finally sweeps in, Elisavyeta is the last Romanov captured, ripped from her abbey in the middle of the night and shuttled to Siberia. It is here, in a distant wood on a moonlit night, that Pavel is left to decide her fate.
The Romanov Bride is Alexanders fullest and most engaging book yet. Combining stunning writing with a keen talent for storytelling, Alexander uncovers more compelling Romanov drama and intrigue for his many readers and all fans of historical fiction.
"In this robust historical set during the Romanov twilight, Alexander (The Kitchen Boy) chronicles the careers of two emblematic individuals the real-life Grand Duchess Elisavyeta ('Ella'), sister of Alexandra, the last tsarina, and the fictional Pavel, a young revolutionary. The author's extensive knowledge of Russia allows him to invigorate the narrative with telling details that bring the aristocrat Ella, who eventually became an Orthodox saint, convincingly to life. His depictions of workers' miseries, from the breadlines to sausage made from cat, are especially strong. Pavel takes part in key events affecting Ella such as the planning for her husband's assassination as well as in the street violence that metastasizes into the Bolshevik Revolution. Quick-cutting between the two characters' perspectives gives readers the opposing viewpoints of nobility and proletariat, emphasizing the obliviousness of each group to the other. As in Doctor Zhivago, coincidence abounds and some scenes and themes call to mind that classic, but this is a compelling journey through momentous events that wraps up with a fine, deeply moving finale. 6-city author tour. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this robust historical set during the Romanov twilight, Alexander (The Kitchen Boy) chronicles the careers of two emblematic individualsthe real-life Grand Duchess Elisavyeta (Ella), sister of Alexandra, the last tsarina, and the fictional Pavel, a young revolutionary. The author's extensive knowledge of Russia allows him to invigorate the narrative with telling details that bring the aristocrat Ella, who eventually became an Orthodox saint, convincingly to life. His depictions of workers' miseries, from the breadlines to sausage made from cat, are especially strong. Pavel takes part in key events affecting Ella such as the planning for her husband's assassinationas well as in the street violence that metastasizes into the Bolshevik Revolution. Quick-cutting between the two characters' perspectives gives readers the opposing viewpoints of nobility and proletariat, emphasizing the obliviousness of each group to the other. As in Doctor Zhivago
, coincidence abounds and some scenes and themes call to mind that classic, but this is a compelling journey through momentous events that wraps up with a fine, deeply moving finale.
This passionate yet poised third installment of the authors series of historical novels about the end of the Russian monarchy, which include The Kitchen Boy (2005) and Rasputins Daughter (2006), brings from the vault of history the life of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth (Ella), who was born a princess of Hesse and married into the doomed Romanov dynasty. Widely considered one of the most beautiful royal ladies in the Europe of her day, Ella wed Grand Duke Sergei, who served as governor- general of Moscow, and found herself thrust into a spectacularly opulent world, the Russian imperial regime being the most gilded in Europe. But Ella always remained the good, caring person she had been as a child. The novels format takes the form of alternating first-person narrations, by Ella, as her world slides into revolutionary chaos, and by the young peasant Pavel, who, drawn into the revolutionary movement, embarks on a path that will directly intersect with the Grand Duchess, with fatal results.
As in his nationally best-selling The Kitchen Boy and Rasputin's Daughter, Alexander here melds historical fact with fictional speculation. Chapters alternate between the perspectives of Pavel, a peasant, and Elisavyeta (Ella), the German-born granddaughter of Queen Victoria, sister-in-law to Czar Nicholas and the privileged wife of Grand Duke Sergei Aleksandrovich, a Romanov. In 1905, czarist soldiers fire at a group of peaceful protesters, and Pavel's young bride is among the murdered. Determined to avenge her death and eliminate the aristocracy, Pavel becomes a dedicated revolutionary. When he assassinates Sergei, Ella's life takes a dramatic turn: she sells her worldly possessions, establishes a convent, and perseveres by helping Moscow's poor. Then, seized in the night, she comes face to face with Pavel in the distant woods of Siberia. Pavel's accounts, though sometimes bogged down by stock revolutionary phrases, reveal how ideology as well as riches can blind individuals. Similarities in Ella's and Pavel's situations provide one of many discussion points, which will draw the interest of book clubs; public libraries will also want copies for historical fiction fans.
In this reverent account of the life of Grand Duchess Elisavyeta (known as Ella), her point of view alternates with that of Pavel, a peasant turned Red turned Gulag detainee, whose path crossed Ella's at crucial points in her doomed existence. A German granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Ella marries Sergei, the uncle of Tsar Nikolai II. Ella's sister Alexandra weds the Tsar. Grand Duke Sergei, a homosexual, rebuffs his wife's affectionsthe childless couple adopts Sergei's niece and nephew. "Alicky and Nicky," Tsar and Tsaritsa, are mostly offstage, although Nicky's loosening grip on his realm is all too apparent. In 1905, a large contingent of peasants and clerics marches peaceably on the Palace to beg the Tsar for economic relief. Soldiers fire into the unarmed crowd, killing hundreds, including Pavel's pregnant wife. In despair, Pavel joins the revolutionaries. An attempt on Sergei's life is thwarted by Pavel's reluctance to kill Ella and the children. But an assassin's bomb eventually catches Sergei alone. Ella forswears her opulent life to found a religious order. She establishes a convent hospital in Moscow to serve the poor. Pavel secretly trails her, marveling at her selflessness and daring as she ventures into Moscow's seamier slums. Just as conditions for the underclass are improvingNicky's ministers have instituted reforms while wiping out thousands of communistsalong comes World War I. During the February 1917 uprising, Ella's convent narrowly escapes destruction, but she rejects all offers of asylum and continues to aid the war-wounded, sick and hungry. After the October 1917 revolution, Ella's arrest is inevitable. Pavel follows Ella to Siberia as her guard, and they exchange their life stories, but death is on the horizon.
Although the regime's free fall is vividly brought to life, the two principals are more archetypal than real. Still, a moving testament to a saintly woman's sad end.
Alexander displays a truly solid footing in Russian history. His research is impeccable, and his knowledge of the Romanovs is encyclopedic, but he also is intimately familiar with the Orthodox faith. That is the key that has allowed him to unlock the hidden beauty -- and meaning -- of this remarkable story.
--Minneapolis Star Tribune
"For ninety years this story has cried out to be told . . . The final reckoning-like the final movement of a Rachmaninoff concerto-builds to a breathtaking conclusion."
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
"The author's extensive knowledge of Russia allows him to invigorate the narrative with telling details . . . A compelling journey through momentous events that wraps up with a fine, deeply moving finale."
"Passionate yet poised."
The bestselling tale of Romanov intrigue from the author of The Kitchen Boy
Book groups and historical fiction buffs have made Robert Alexander's two previous novels word-of-mouth favorites and national bestsellers. Set against a backdrop of Imperial Russia's twilight, The Romanov Bride has the same enduring appeal. The Grand Duchess Elisavyeta's story begins like a fairy tale-a German princess renowned for her beauty and kind heart marries the Grand Duke Sergei of Russia and enters the Romanov's lavish court. Her husband, however, rules his wife as he does Moscow-with a cold, hard fist. And, after a peaceful demonstration becomes a bloodbath, the fires of the revolution link Elisavyeta's destiny to that of Pavel-a young Bolshevik-forever.
About the Author
Robert Alexander is the author of the bestselling novels Rasputins Daughter and The Kitchen Boy. He has spent thirty years traveling in Russia, where he has worked for the U.S. government and currently is a partner in a St. Petersburg company operating a number of businesses.