For readers of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir comes a dramatic novel of the beloved Empress Maria, the Danish princess who became the mother of the last Russian tsar.
“This epic tale is captivating and beautifully told.”—Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
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, Alexander, and once he ascends the throne, becomes empress. 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 led 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.
Praise for The Romanov Empress
“Timely . . . [Gortner’s] ability to weave what reads as a simple tale from such complex historical and familial storylines is impressive. . . . Maria’s life as a royal reads like a historical soap opera.”—USA Today
“Gortner, an experienced hand at recreating the unique aura of a particular time and place, will deftly sweep historical-fictions fans into this glamorous, turbulent, and ultimately tragic chapter in history.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Mesmerizing . . . This insightful first-person account of the downfall of the Romanov rule . . . is the powerful story of a mother trying to save her family and an aristocrat fighting to maintain rule in a country of rebellion.”—Publishers Weekly
“A twist on the tragic story you’ve heard many times before.”—Bustle
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.