The Romanov Empress

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Aug 2018

Member Reviews

The best historical fiction inspires you to deep dive into a period of extreme research and extra reading...and this has done just that.  Well written and compelling to read, this book follows the life of a Danish princess who marries the heir to the Russian Tsar and becomes Empress Maria, mother of Nicholas who is the last of the Russian monarchs.  I found this absolutely fascinating and though I've never had an interest in Russian history before, I have now a couple of nonfiction books on the Romanov's waiting to be read.  I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I had a hard time with this book.  I really wanted to love it and all the reviews that I have seen have been positive, however, I just felt I got lost in the wording and would find myself drifting off and not following the story.  I felt it could have quite a bit shorter.  I truly wanted to love it, but I just think I was the minority in that I didn't.
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I've read most of the novels by CW Gortner, and I have yet to be disappointed. The author obviously does an amazing amount of research, and puts their heart and soul completely into writing their novels. As a reader, you definitely feel as though you are inside the character's minds, and that you are able to see and feel what they do. He is definitely one of my top five favorite authors of historical fiction, and I have read hundreds of historical fiction novels!
This is the first historical fiction novel that I have read about the Romanov's. I knew the story of the family being executed, and of course I knew of the different stories of Anastasia. However, I never had the interest in buying a novel dealing with their family. I prefer historical fiction that takes place in England, France, Scotland, etc., and I usually read novels that take place 100 or more years prior to the Romanov's. I decided to read this novel purely because of who the author is, and now I have a new perspective on what was happening during this time period, and I am looking for more novels dealing with the Romanov family members. I love that this novel focused on the mother of Tsar Nicholas II, Russia's last Tsar, rather than on his wife and children. When you hear of the Romanov's, you usually think of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, the daughter Anastasia, the hemophilic son Nikolai, and of course, Rasputin. It was nice to read his mother, Maria Feodorovna's (Minnie) story, as well as her point of view of what happened leading up to the execution of the Tsar and his family. It really helped me to understand what was going on politically at the time, and how the Romanov's really had a huge role in their own downfall. I found myself despising Nicholas II's wife, Alexandra, because of how well the author's writing is. He really makes you feel the anger, frustration, and sadness that Maria is going through while trying to help her son to see what is really going on in his country, and to basically put his wife in her place before it is too late. Unfortunately, it was too late for them. I don't know enough about the situation to know whether Alexandra held as much blame for the downfall as the author places on her, but it definitely was an interesting viewpoint to read about.
I will definitely be looking for more novels to read about the Romanov family. I'm hooked after reading this novel. I 100% recommend this novel, as well as any of CW Gortner's other books. He is truly a fantastic historical fiction author, and I look forward to more from him!!
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The drawback for me was the short chapters that chopped up the story into the different characters views. It definitely took away from the main character. One minute we are learning about Maria the next chapter it might jump to her sister in law or her brother in Greece. I did not feel this book really told her story. It felt cobbled together and read more like a novella I found that to be annoying. The book read more like a novella of Maria's family instead of an accounting of her story.
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Such an amazing book about this Empress. Mother of Czar Nicholas II and grandmother to the 4 Grand Duchesses. she was amazing.
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A book by Christopher W. Gortner is always a treat! You don't have to read the inside cover of the back of the book! You're going to be very happy with anything you read by this author!
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.Thank you so much for allowing me to read and review this book!
All opinions are my own.
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I have found myself to recently become quite fascinated with the Romanov’s and Anastasia so I am very grateful to Netgalley and the publishers for sharing with me a copy of ‘The Romanov Empress’ in exchange for an honest review. 
I found ‘The Romanov Empress’ to be very interesting, following the life of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, grandmother of Anastasia. This was an enjoyable and instructive historical fiction which enriched my knowledge of the Romanov history. This story follows Maria’s from teenage years through most of her life, but do not expect an Anastasia tale as she plays a very minor role in the latter part of the novel. I found ‘The Romanov Empress’ to be well written and researched and enjoyed it thoroughly.
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I love Russian history, particularly from early 20th century, AND I love historical fiction, so this novel was perfect for me. It focused on the end of the Romanov dynasty and the build up to the Bolshevik Revolution, but from the perspective of Czar Nicholas II mother. Highly recommended.
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While the detail in The Romanov Empress is beautiful, the story simply moved far too slowly to hold my attention. Typically, a slow-moving story doesn't deter me, but the characters failed to capture my interest enough to continue to the end. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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This was a fabulous book. Gripping and heart-wrenching, Gortner has a very good voice for the last Dowager Empress of Imperial Russia. While this is a work of fiction, it has answered some questions that I have had about the reign of Nicholas II.
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I enjoyed it overall.  But I found the narrator to be a bit fatiguing;  Her relentless defense of a corrupt regime made sense in context, but it made me impatient with her.
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VERDICT: Powerful historical fiction presentation of Maria Feodorovna, her family, and all of Russia’s and Europe’s history during her long life.
The book offers a huge historical fresco, starting in the Yellow Palace Copenhagen, before Marie Sophie’s (Princess Dagmar) engagement to Nixa in 1864, so when the tsar was Alexander II. And her sister Alix is promised to Queen Victoria’s son. The story of Maria’s marriage is like fiction. Sometimes, reality can be as nightmarish as fiction…
I enjoyed all the details about the cultural differences between Denmark and Russia, seen through the eyes of the young heroine.
The network of connections between all the European families is well explained, showing that marriage was most of the time not a question of love between two persons, but for political and strategic alliances between countries. Though it could eventually grow into love.
Maria Feodorovna managed to escape when the tsar’s family was butchered, and she lived old, so the book was a good overview of Russia’s history during its last 3 tsars and of the European political scene during all that period. Therefore, we see the Nihilists, the Bolsheviks, the beginning of Lenin. At times, I actually found it a bit too long, but I guess it had to be this way, seeing Maria’s long life (1847-1928).
As usual, Gortner excels at telling history through the eyes and experience of women.
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First sentence: "We should dress alike," I said on that afternoon when life changed forever. I didn't yet understand how profound the change would be, but I could feel it as I sat riffling through the heap of boxes sent by Copenhagen's and London's finest emporiums, packed with satin-bowed shoes and beribboned hats, silk undergarments, dresses, corsets, shawls, leather gloves, and cloaks made of fine cashmere or Scottish wool.

Premise/plot: The narrator of this one is Maria Feodorovna (aka Minnie, aka Princess Dagmar of Denmark, aka Empress of Russia). Her husband was Emperor Alexander III. Her son was Emperor Nicholas II--the last tsar of Russia. She was a daughter, sister, princess, wife, mother, widow, mother-in-law, grandmother, empress, and dowager empress. The novel is written in first person--for better or worse. And this one spans decades.

My thoughts: I wanted to love this one. I wanted to be swept up, up, and away into this historical novel featuring several royal families. I wanted to find the narrative captivating, fascinating, intriguing, compelling--anything and everything but dull. To be honest, the book isn't dull so much as it is un-exciting.

I felt several degrees removed from all the action, from all the drama. Perhaps the narrative was supposed to reflect the poise, the dignity, the restraint, the respectability, the polish of the Empress? Perhaps the purpose was to focus solely on the interior thought life of a woman and not really get into the ACTION and DRAMA of the times in which she lived? I'm not sure.

It was interesting to read a book about the Romanovs from the perspective of a survivor. It didn't make the book less sad, less tragic. It was her son. It was her grandchildren. Obviously most--if not all--of her concern was towards their safety and not her own. She wasn't worried about herself--but them. How could they be saved? How could they be rescued? How could they be smuggled out of the country? She was out of touch--for the most part except for a few smuggled letters--with the people she loved most in the world. Their lives were in danger and she knew it. She lived with it. The last section of the book was the most intense. It almost made up for the dullness of the other five sections.

I would definitely read a nonfiction biography about her. I think her story probably is worth reading. But perhaps fiction wasn't the way to go--for me.
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I am a bit obsessed at the moment with Russian history, and this book foreshadowing the doom that was to befall the Romanov dynasty did not disappoint. Told from the point of view of Russia's last great Tzarina, Maria Feodorovna. Dagmar is a Danish princess. At the beginning of the book, she is nearly 16 years of age, and under the shadow of her older sister, who is about to marry into English Royalty. Dagmar eventually becomes Maria, and along with her new name, new religion, and adopted country, integrates herself and becomes a well respected figure in the Russian Imperial Family. Maria's headstrong nature and honor helped maintain the Romanov family's strong popularity in the 1800's, but it could not prevent its eventually downfall, the pull of Rasputin, and the political unrest. The characters, scenery, and events were rich with detail, but never dry. The dialogue felt true to the time period. This book is a real treat for fans of historical fiction, and in particular, of learning about the Romanov dynasty and its demise. Thank you NetGalley for this ARC.
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I loved this book! Highly recommend. I've always been very interested in the Romanovs -- this was a fresh take on something I've read so much about. I appreciate NetGalley for helping me get a copy of this.
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I love learning about history. Especially that of times and people that aren’t as well known as say, WWII or King Henry VIII. Yet as much as I love learning about it, reading about it can at times be a bore. Enter historical fiction. While, obviously, fictionalized these accounts are brought to life and give us a glimpse into what events may have been like (and hopefully educate us a little along the way). 

Most of us know about the Romanov dynasty because of Catherine the Great, Peter the Great, and most likely, Rasputin and the fall of the Tsars. So it was refreshing to read a historical fiction novel about the Romanov’s the centered not around Anastasia or Tsar Nicholas, but about Tsarina Maria, Nicholas’ mother. 

The Romanov Empress blends politics, love, and family together to create a spellbinding tale of the Tsarina’s life. Along the way I had a bit of a history refresher, learning the familial links between herself and the many other rulers in Europe. Gortner does a great job bringing these historic characters to life and many times I felt I was right there in the middle of a ball or trekking along Russia’s cold streets. 

If you are a fan of historical fiction or Russian history, I highly recommend. And if you’ve read any of Gortner’s previous works, which do you recommend next?
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Maria (Minnie) Feodorovna, born a princess of Denmark, she later marries Alexander III, Tsar of Russia. This book tells her story from a princess whose family did not have a lot of money in spite of their title to become the wife of the future tsar and mother of the last tsar of Russia. Through Minnie's eyes we see the excesses of the imperial court but also the simple family life that Minnie grew up in. We see the affects of revolution and how they shaped her husband and her son and led to the demise of the Romanovs. Even knowing how the story ends, it is still a fascinating read.
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I loved this book.  I generally like historical fiction, but this book went beyond because it was so well researched.  The author did a wonderful job of making me feel like I was there in Norway and Russia.

Minnie was born a Danish princess but falls in love with the Russian son of the Tsar.  When he dies unexpectedly, she marries his brother and eventually becomes the Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Tsarina of Russia.  The book tells the story of her life and her family.  Her sister married the Prince of Wales and became Queen, and her son became Tsar and was killed in the Russian Revolution.

An excellent book.  Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I am such a fan of Russian history, particularly the Romanovs.  The amount of historical coverage was spectacular as told from Tsarina Maria Feodorovna‘s view.  The characters were well developed, the story was very descriptive.  Just lived this book and look forward to reading my from this author as a lot of research went into this book.
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Oh did I love this book!!  It is one of the most wonderfully engrossing books I have read in a very long time.  I have always enjoyed reading anything about Nicholas and Alexandra and this extremely well-written book about Tsar Nicholas' mother was excellent.  The story, based on fact, is entirely from the point of view of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna and the reader feels as if they are truly there with her as she lives a lifestyle few ever experience.  The descriptions of jewels, clothing and palaces are richly detailed in such a way that could be tedious but in this author's hands is simply fascinating.  

From her youth Minnie was always sharp and forward thinking.  She grew up a Danish princess, married the Russian heir, Alexander, and ultimately became Empress.  She came to love her adopted country and tried as best she could to help both her husband and son with their work as rulers of a people who over time, in response to various edicts passed down, became increasingly unhappy and thus the seeds of revolution were planted.

The only thing missing was a family tree at the beginning of the book.  The Romanovs were a big family and it would have been nice to refer back to it while reading.   However, I would very strongly recommend this book even without the family tree, to anyone.    

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for a review copy.  This is my honest opinion.
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