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Thursday, July 12, 2018

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

Title: The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna
Author: C.W. Gortner 
Format: ARC
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: July 10, 2018
Source: HFVBT



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "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 the final years of its long reign.

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 and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. 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 lead 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."


My Two Cents:

I love historical fiction but I always wonder about why there are certain areas of the world and time periods that never seem to get the HistFic treatment. Imperial Russia is one of those. I have been absolutely craving more historical fiction set in Russia and after reading "The Romanov Empress," I only want more! Isn't that always the problem with really good books?

In this book, we meet Minnie, a royal in her own right who is betrothed to the heir to the Russian throne. Several twists of fate have Minnie's life looking much different than she ever expected. Through it all, she maintains a keen sense of just how to use her power. I love stories about strong women and Minnie certainly is super strong. Although women at the time did not have much power, she learns quickly how to wield what she does have in order to shape her own life and the lives of those around her.

Russian history is fascinating to me. It was especially fascinating to see it through Minnie's eyes as she had a front row seat to so many seismic changes in that country. Gortner adds a lot of really great detail that brings Minnie's travels and Russia itself to life. Gortner does an amazing job of world building in this book and weaving in the detail for a fully immersive experience.

This book also had a feature that I have liked in so many other Gortner books. He has a great ear (err... hand) for writing really great dialogue. You can actually hear (err.. read) the characters speaking and their tones!

It has been really hard for me to focus on reading since the Great Tree Debacle of 2018 and this is really the first book since then that I have been able to just get lost in and that's a beautiful thing!


 

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