Advanced Praise for The Romanov Bride
“For 90 years this story has cried out to be told. And who better to tell it than Robert Alexander, the talented Minneapolis author who has made a justifiably celebrated name for himself relating Russian history to Western readers in a collegial style that sacrifices neither accuracy nor authenticity? With the successes of his two previous books on the Romanovs, The Kitchen Boy and Rasputin’s Daughter, he continues to mine the rich lode of the ill-fated ruling house with The Romanov Bride, a compelling story of the Grand Duchess Elisavyeta.
Known to her family simply as Ella, she was one of the more fascinating women in an era that produced larger-than-life characters on an almost epic scale. Yet her story – a unique and remarkably inspiring life cut short by a shocking death – is largely unknown outside Russia and the Orthodox Christian community in the West. She was, to Western eyes, just one of the innumerable victims of revolution and civil war. In Russia, Ella is not only widely known, but she has been declared a saint by the Orthodox Church – a “new martyr” of the Bolshevik yoke – and has a large and avidly devoted following among young people. How this happened is to be found in the pages of this nicely paced, beautifully presented and completely satisfying read…
The author introduces the fictional character Pavel to juxtapose Ella’s life of privilege and introspection with the daily hardships faced by ordinary Russians. Pavel and his wife, Shura, leave the countryside to seek better lives in St. Petersburg. If the dream eludes them, calamity does not, and Pavel is propelled inexorably first into the ranks of nihilist terrorists and, ultimately, the Bolsheviks. This prince(ss)-and-the-pauper literary device can sometimes be pedestrian, but in Alexander’s hands it works exceedingly well, giving us simultaneous yet diametrically opposed views of each incident. Ella and Pavel cross paths often, and the final reckoning – like the final movement of a Rachmaninoff concerto – builds to a breathtaking conclusion. 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.”
— Star Tribune, Minneapolis
“Minneapolis author Robert Alexander once again delves into the maelstrom of revolutionary Russia. The Romanov Bride weaves together the tales of Pavel, a proletariat revolutionary leader, and Elisavyeta, a Romanov Duchess—each marching the paths dictated by class during the years surrounding 1917. Themes of revenge and redemption course through the novel, adding depth and intrigue. Alexander’s captivating narration, his grasp of the past, and his ability to humanize both sides of a conflict make this fictional tale seem almost real. ”
— Minnesota Monthly
“Robust historical… The author’s extensive knowledge of Russia allows him to invigorate the narrative with telling details that bring the aristocrat Ella convincingly to life. His depictions of workers’ miseries…are especially strong. 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.”
— Publishers Weekly
As Russia races toward catastrophe, the Grand Duchess Elisavyeta is ensconced in the most lavish and magnificent court in the world, that of the mighty Romanovs. In the same city, but worlds apart, Pavel is a simple village man in search of a better life with his young bride, Shura. But when Shura is shot and killed by Tsarist soldiers during a peaceful political demonstration, the grief-stricken Pavel dedicates his life to overthrowing the Romanovs.
This is the fascinating true story of the beautiful and ill-fated Romanov grand duchess who gives up everything, and the peasant who determines her fate.
Whether you are in a book club,or just interested in learning more about The Kitchen Boy, the Reader’s Guide is for you. It includes an interview with the author, Robert Alexander, and a list of questions designed to spark your discussions. Download the Reader’s Guide here.
A photo montage of Grand Duchess Elizabeth:
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia (Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova Russian) the wife of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia, fifth son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and Princess Marie of Hesse and the Rhine. Elizabeth became famous in Russian society for her beauty, charm, and good works among the poor. After the murder of her husband in 1905, she then departed the Imperial Court and became a nun, founding the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent dedicated to helping the downtrodden of Moscow.