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The Tsarina's Daughter

The Tsarina's Daughter

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by Carolly Erickson
     
 

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From the bestselling author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette comes a dramatic novel and powerful love story about the last Russian imperial family.

It is 1989 and Daria Gradov is an elderly grandmother living in the rural West. What neighbors and even her children don't know, however, is that she is not who she claims to be—the widow of a

Overview

From the bestselling author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette comes a dramatic novel and powerful love story about the last Russian imperial family.

It is 1989 and Daria Gradov is an elderly grandmother living in the rural West. What neighbors and even her children don't know, however, is that she is not who she claims to be—the widow of a Russian immigrant of modest means. In actuality she began her life as the Grand Duchess Tatiana, known as Tania to her parents, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra.

And so begins the latest entrancing historical entertainment by Carolly Erickson. At its center is young Tania, who lives a life of incomparable luxury in pre-Revolutionary Russia, from the magnificence of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to the family's private enclave outside the capital. Tania is one of four daughters, and the birth of her younger brother Alexei is both a blessing and a curse. When he is diagnosed with hemophilia and the key to his survival lies in the mysterious power of the illiterate monk Rasputin, it is merely an omen of much worse things to come. Soon war breaks out and revolution sweeps the family from power and into claustrophobic imprisonment in Siberia. Into Tania's world comes a young soldier whose life she helps to save and who becomes her partner in daring plans to rescue the imperial family from certain death.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Historical maven Erickson (The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette) delivers a top-notch narrative featuring beautiful and courageous Tatiana Romanov, daughter of Nicholas and Alexandra, during the final years of their reign. As life becomes increasingly bleak in prerevolution Russia, Tatiana sneaks out of the palace and sees firsthand the poverty and violence pervading her country. With Communist rebels shouting for equality and enemy countries invading, Tatiana befriends a young and destitute pregnant woman whose fiancé has just been murdered by Cossacks, opening up her conscience in unexpected ways. But as the czar falters and the czarina takes refuge from her afflictions in the company of Father Gregory (better known as Rasputin), Tatiana finds solace in the arms of a fierce patriot. Erickson creates an entirely convincing historical backdrop, and her tale of a family's fall from power and a country in transition is both romantic and gripping. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Erickson (The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette; The Secret Life of Josephine) weaves historical details into this imaginative account of how Tatiana Romanov, the second of Nicholas and Alexandra's four daughters, escaped the Bolshevik assassins who killed Russia's royal family in 1918. As an elderly woman living in Canada, Tatiana recounts events from her life in pre-revolutionary Russia. Her interest in the lives of servants and others beyond the royal circle leads to her clandestine attempts to help cold, hungry Russians who grow increasingly resentful of the royal family. However, her parents refuse to acknowledge the changing political realities. Nicholas, an inept commander and weak ruler, indulges in personal pleasures, while Alexandra relies on the mystical powers of Rasputin to keep her hemophiliac son alive. In addition, Tatiana's tyrannical grandmother, self-centered sisters, and a bevy of royal relatives throughout Europe engage in romantic and political intrigues that affect the fates of individuals and nations. Tatiana's liaison with a military man loyal to the tsar and the devotion of a poor woman she had helped lead to her unlikely rescue. Despite knowing the real Tatiana's fate, readers will rejoice in the fictional version's survival. A sure winner for public library fans of historical romance. [Library marketing campaign.]
—Kathy Piehl

Kirkus Reviews
A wish-fulfillment fantasy about another Romanov who survived Ekaterinburg, this time the Tsar's second daughter, Tatiana. Forensic science has squelched speculation about whether or not any of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra's five children escaped assassination by Bolsheviks in 1918. Erickson, who has carved out a niche in the historical genre for what she styles "historical entertainments" (e.g. The Secret Life of Josephine, 2007, etc.), never lets harsh fact impede a good story. Instead of the usual suspect, Anastasia, Erickson's surviving Grand Duchess is Tatiana (aka Tania), now 93, living in obscurity in the West under the assumed name Daria Gradov. Tania has resolved to tell the world that the Romanov line did not die out. Flashback to pre-World War I St. Petersburg. The increasingly neurasthenic Alexandra has finally produced a male heir, but unfortunately, Tsarevich Alexei is born with hereditary hemophilia. Tania, at first preoccupied with typical princess concerns-French lessons, dancing instruction, ball gowns and draconian posture improvement administered by her overbearing Grandma Minnie-senses that her father's throne is threatened. An attempt on Nicholas's life sparked a major riot and Cossack rampage, and her Uncle Gega was blown to bits by a carriage bomb. As war approaches, Alexandra, when she's not outraging the public with her German nationality and affinity for the rakish faith healer Rasputin, does her patriotic duty. Tania, meanwhile, toils tending wounded soldiers, like young Georgian Michael, whom she cures with Rasputin's healing stick. Michael, with his Adonis-like physique (except for that nasty chest wound), is this romance's Fabio. After exchangingidentities with servant Daria, who then dies alongside her employers, Tania flees to Canada with Michael. Although the particulars of the Romanovs' fall are familiar from other treatments, including Erickson's biography of Alexandra, the suspense never flags, despite many improbabilities. More entertainment than history, but all the better for it.
From the Publisher

“Suspenseful and detailed, the novel captures a dramatic moment in history and will sear you with sorrow for this doomed daughter of the last tsar.” —People magazine

“A top-notch narrative … Erickson creates an entirely convincing historical backdrop, and her tale of a family's fall from power and a country in transition is both romantic and gripping.” —Publishers Weekly

“Erickson weaves historical details into this imaginative account of how Tatiana Romanov, the second of Nicholas and Alexandra's four daughters, escaped the Bolshevik assassins who killed Russia's royal family in 1918…. Despite knowing the real Tatiana's fate, readers will rejoice in the fictional version's survival. A sure winner.” —Library Journal

“Erickson never lets harsh fact impede a good story . . . the suspense never flags . . . More entertainment than history, but all the better for it.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Lovingly told, The Tsarina's Daughter is a story with a bittersweet ending, as real history sometimes is. Beautifully written, this is a terrific book to curl up with on a chilly autumn day.” —Romance Reviews Today

“This historical novel is the romantic story of doomed Tatiana Romanov.” —OK! magazine (4 of 5 stars)

“[C]lever and enchanting . . . [Erickson] has spun a sensitive and entirely believable story of the young woman's coming of age in the maelstrom of World War I and the ensuing collapse of the dynasty. It is a love story, to be sure, but what makes this book remarkable (and a compulsive read) is the author's superb understanding of the fascinating personalities of the Imperial Family and the Russian court. Highly recommended.” —Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429960878
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
09/30/2008
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
135,373
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My story begins at the extreme edge of memory, on a snowy January afternoon when I was six years old, and it seemed as if all the bells in all the churches of St. Petersburg were ringing at once.

I remember my father lifted me up so I could see over the top of the balcony railing, and I felt the freezing wind on my face and saw, through the greenish-yellow fog, a crowd of people such as I had never seen before.

The mass of people, all singing and shouting and waving flags and banners, seemed to stretch as far as I could see, all across the Palace Square and beyond, out toward the corners of the avenues and even along the bridge across the river.

"Batiushka! Batiushka!" they were shouting. "Little Father!" Though the noise of their shouting seemed to dissolve into the resonant clanging of the bells and the singing of "God Save the Tsar."

It was my name day, or near it, the Feast of the Holy Martyr Tatiana of Rome who lived in the time of the Caesars, and at first I thought they were all shouting and singing to celebrate my name day feast, so I waved and smiled and thought, how kind they all are, to show such joy at my feast day.

But of course it was not my name day that they were celebrating, it was something much more important, as I found out later.

My father put me down but I could still see through the open stonework of the balustrade and I could still hear the tremendous commotion. People began singing "Holy Russia" and chanting "Hail to the Russian army and fleet" and clapping as they chanted, though their poor hands must have been raw from the cold. Mother led us back through the glass doors into the White Hall and we thawed ourselves in front of the fire.

She smiled at us and gave us hot milk and plates of warm buns with honey and icing. We were all happy that day because she had just told us a wonderful secret: that we would soon have a baby brother.

There were four of us girls in the family, in that winter of l904. I was six, as I have already said, Olga had just turned eight, fat little Marie was four and the baby, Anastasia, was two and a half. Everybody said we needed a brother and mama assured us that we would soon have one, no matter what stories our Grandma Minnie told. (Grandma Minnie was unkind to mama, and always said she could only have girls.)

"Is it because our little brother is coming that all the people are shouting and all the bells are ringing?" I asked.

"No, Tania. It is because they love Russia and they love us, especially your dear papa."

"I heard Chemodurov say it was because of the war," Olga said, in her most grown-up, know-it-all voice. Chemodurov was my father’s valet and the source of all Olga’s information at that time.

"Hush! We leave such things to your father." Mama spoke crisply, and gave Olga a look that made her frown and sulk, though she did obey and said nothing more.

"How was your dancing lesson, Tania?" mama asked, changing the subject. "Did you manage to avoid stepping on Olga’s feet?"

"Professor Leitfelter says I am a good dancer," I said proudly. "I keep good time with my feet."

Olga and I went to dancing class twice a week at the Vorontzov Institute for Young Noblewomen. With forty other girls, all of us dressed in identical long white pinafores and pink linen underskirts, we stepped and twirled, promenaded and bowed to the music of a grand piano, while our dancing master walked up and down, correcting our form and clapping his hands irritably when we failed to keep in step.

I loved dancing class. Everything about it pleased me, from the beautiful high-ceilinged immaculately white ballroom in which it was held, with its grand marble columns and its immense chandeliers, to the gold-framed portraits that looked down on us from the walls while we danced, to the grace of the best dancers and the carefree feeling the movements brought out in me.

Among those other girls I was no longer a grand duchess, fussed over by nursemaids and servants. I was just one of forty identical girls, treated no differently from the others just because I was the emperor’s daughter. (Professor Leitfelter was equally strict with us all.) For as long as the class lasted I yielded, happily, to the flow of the music and drifted away.

On the following day the immense crowds formed again in Palace Square and out beyond it. Once again the church bells rang and the people sang and shouted, and my father led us all out onto the balcony to receive their tribute.

"I’ve never seen anything like it," my father said to us all at tea that afternoon. "Such huge demonstrations of support, such outpourings of love and affection for the nation—"

"And the dynasty. Don’t forget that," my mother interrupted. "It is for the house of Romanov, and for you, Nicky."

My father smiled gently, as he always did when reminded that he, the emperor, was the focus of veneration.

"My people are loyal," he said. "They may complain, they may go on strike and march in protest and even throw bombs, but when the nation needs them, they respond. I’m told there are crowds like this in ever town," he went on. "Men are rushing to volunteer for army service. Contributions are pouring in, tens of thousands of rubles. And all because we are at war with Japan."

"We will win, won’t we, papa?" I asked.

"Of course, Tania. Only the British have a finer navy than we do. Though Cousin Willy has many fine ships as well." Mama’s cousin Willy was Kaiser Wilhelm, ruler of Germany. I had seen pictures of him in mama’s study, a burly, angry-looking man. Mama didn’t like him.

For many days the crowds came to cheer and sing, and we all went out on the balcony to smile and wave. But papa, who always looked a little sad except when he was taking a long walk or riding his bicycle or chopping wood, began to look very sad, and before long the noise and the singing stopped, though there were still many people in Palace Square, looking up toward the balcony or talking among themselves.

Olga told me that some of our big Russian ships had been sunk by the Japanese. A lot of men had drowned, she said, and I thought, no wonder papa looks sad.

"There is a war. A terrible war. And we are losing. Chemodurov says so."

I remember being confused, and being sorry to see my father’s sad face (for he could be very jolly), and the next thing I remember was the day my baby brother was born.

On that day, in the morning, we children were sent upstairs to the nursery, out of the way, and were told that mama had gone into Grandma Minnie’s bedroom, to lie in her bed.

"All the tsars of Russia have been born in that bed," our nursemaid told us. "Your father, and your grandfather, who was strong as an ox, and your sainted great-grandfather, the one who was blown all to pieces by that awful man."

It was not long before the guns in the Peter and Paul Fortress began going off and we knew that our little brother had come into the world. We were allowed to go downstairs to see mama and the little baby. Mama was lying back on the soft pillows of the bed and looking very tired, the way she looked when her head hurt. Yet she looked beautiful, with her lovely face softened by fatigue and her rich dark blond hair spread out all over the lace-trimmed pillow. She smiled at us and held out her hands.

Beside the bed a golden cradle flamed in the sunlight. Next to the cradle sat one of the nursery maids, gently rocking it with her foot. I remember peering down into the cradle and seeing there, beneath a purple velvet coverlet embroidered in gold, our new brother, asleep.

"Alexei," mama said quietly. "We are going to call him Alexei. The eighth Romanov to sit on the throne of all the Russias. Now, that is something to celebrate."

Excerpted from The Book of The Tsarina's Daughter by Carolly Erichson

Copyright © 2008 by Carolly Erickson

Published in 2008 by St. Martin’s Press

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher

Meet the Author

Among Carolly Erickson's twenty-five critically acclaimed, prize-winning, bestselling books are biographies, histories and the recent series of fictional historical entertainments. Her range is wide, her audience worldwide. She lives in Hawaii.


Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of Rival to the Queen, The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots, The First Elizabeth, The Hidden Life of Josephine, The Last Wife of Henry VIII, and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Tsarina’s Daughter won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. She lives in Hawaii.

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The Tsarina's Daughter 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this is the worst book I have ever read. This is not a "historical" novel. There is correct information here and there in attempt to paint a picture of the lives of the Romanovs and the life of the Russian people, but all of those little facts just serve as the historical backdrop for a very soap-opera-esque romance. Carolly Erickson has turned a daughter of Emperess Alexandra (a woman of strict, moral Victorian upbringing) to a little slut. How does a sheltered grand duchess end up having two lovers? She even discusses "taking the next step" with her first lover with her aunt and seeks guidance. The aunt then prodives the room over her garage so Tatiana and her lover can go into that "new world" together. Really, Carolly, really? The second lover is a wounded soldier Tatiana nurses back to health and who later helps her escape. Hm...can we be any more cliche?
The writing is weak. I felt nothing for these characters as I read this. It doesn't look like Carolly put any research into this...hardly any original research. If she did do any research at all it was through Robert Massies "Nicholas and Alexandra," for her descriptions are similar.
This recently published book was clearly just written to take advantage of the renewed interest in the Romanovs now that the two missing bodies were discovered about a year ago.
If you want to read quality literature on the Romanovs read any of the books by Robert Alexander, particularly The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar. But don't waste your time with this.
lovestoreadall More than 1 year ago
I have about 30 books about the fall of the russian tsars my interest started with a novel. I enjoy reading all books the history surrounding this is so interesting. It was nice to just read but I found myself not enjoying it fully because I feel like I was disecting the book all the time and not reading it as a novel. I think it would have been more intresting to me about 6 years ago before I sent so much time researching the Romanovs. I have begun to feel like they are family to me. I will keep the book in my russian collection nd hopefully the next time I read it I will enjoy it more.
Celyn_Malory More than 1 year ago
The Tsarina's daughter tells the "what if" story of Grand Duchess Tatiana surviving the murder of Tsar Nicholas II's family in Ekaterinburg in 1917. As an old woman in America, Tatiana, who has been posing as a Russian peasant immigrant, tells the story, admitting who she is and how she managed to survive. In the same vein as the of Grand Duchess Anastasia surving and real people claiming to be her, in this story a the Grand Duchess takes on the identity of a character in the story, and tells the story of the last days of the Romanov dynasty and the overthrow of the Russian government in the Bolshevik revolution. The story is a fanciful retelling of Nicholas II's reign as told by his second oldest daughter. The author takes liberties with reality, allowing a grand duchess to sneak out of the palace in the middle of the night to visit the seedier side of the world with a servant, something that would never be possible in Imperial Russia. While it gets some of the actual history right, it also reinforces the old line myths about the Romanovs. The author has either chosen to ignore information discovered after the fall of the Soviet Union or failed to research it. As a romantic novel it is a nice summer beach read. For any die-hard history buff of the era, the holes in the facts leave a great deal to be desired. If you're looking for accuracy, you'll be disappointed. If you want to sit back, suspend truth and have fun with a new angle on the ruling class, it's a good read.
MJB1981 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy Carolly Erickson's novels where she takes her non fiction, biographical research and spins it into a novel. These are usually wonderful diversions. (The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette is a triumph and the Last Wife of Henry VIII is wonderful!) However, The Tsarina's Daughter, is a true disappointment. Yes, most readers will know the fate of the Romanovs at the onset of the story. And yes, most of us would like to think that one of the children may have escaped as they were true innocents, but I found Carolly Erickson's spin on Maria's ultimate fate to be ridiculous. (I say this primarily because we know she died that horrific night in Russia) To have her escape that when we have sound scientific evidence placing her there undermines the whole entire novel. My biggest issue was Ms. Erickson's extreme license with history and fact at the end of this book. (I.E. consorting with peasants amongst many things) Usually, her books are very spot on and I love her psychological portraits of famous, tragic, and often misunderstood women as they force you to think critically about history and not just accept established fact. In this book, she simply changes way too many details about the Romanovs' lives for me to be comfortable with. She did excell in painting a vivid and accurante picture of the ineptitude of Tsar Nicholas II, the mental instability of his wife Tsarina Alexandra, the debauchary of Rasputin, and the complex, meddlesome nature of Minnie, the Dowager Empress of Russia. Needless to say, I had an extremely difficult time reading this book. It isn't a page turner and it really could have been. I would recommend reading her other fictional works as they are much better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. I couldn't put it down. Fascinating look into the Russian royal family. Specifically enjoyed the book being written in first person. Easy read.
Ladybug777 More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of the Russian Empire and Tsars. I read the Kitchen Boy and couldn't put it down so i thought this book would be the same. It is not the best written and took awhile to really get into the book. Overall its a good story and an interesting take on one of Grand Duchesses. However, i think i'll stick with Robert Alexander's novels of the Imperial Russian Family.
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Interesting historical novel.
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emmi331 More than 1 year ago
This is an intriguing twist on the usual someone-escaped-the-death-cellar tale. In this case, it's Tatiana, probably the most beautiful of the ill-fated Russian royal family, who died at the hands of the revolutionaries in 1918. The reader is treated to the rich detail of life among the privileged in pre-Communist Russia, which makes the humiliation and downfall of the family all the more heart-wrenching. Interestingly, Rasputin is depicted as a spiritual man with genuine healing powers - until wealth and power destroyed both his gifts and his life. Sure, the whole romance angle may be a bit far-fetched, but it adds a bit of spice and warmth to the tale.
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YellowRoseRB More than 1 year ago
I am a HUGE Carolly Erickson fan! The Tsarina's Daughter is another example of Erickson's ability as great 21st century author!
hateslove More than 1 year ago
this book does go against my personal beliefs and usual requirements in books, however, it still managed 2 become 1 of my favorite books. historical fiction has always fascinated me; especially this particular subject. im nearly 14 years old and i still watch anastsia, i love it so much. i very much enjoyed reading it, and intend 2 read it again once it is returned (i let my friend barrow it). i would like 2 warn younger readers (probably about 12 and under. i say probably bcuz it depends on maturity level. 4 example, my friend whos currently barrowing it couldve read it when she was 8) that it does have more mature parts in it. i would recommend having 1 of ur older friends reading it (make sure theyre a teenager and know u well enough 2 judge weather u could handle it or not) and telling u weather they think u could do so as well and enjoy it. anywho, i definitely loved it, and i hope u do, also. :)