Tania is the second of four daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra. She was born in 1898 and lives in a rapidly changing world where the wealth of her family will not protect her. One of her first memories is the war against Japan. While the Russian people began that war with hope and confidence, it ended with turmoil and a growing need for change. In this backdrop, Tania grows up with faithful servants and a family full of leaders. She also is exposed to the hungry masses and despair that she had never imagined existed. That is not to say that she didn’t have fun or friends.
Adalbert is her cousin. He is also the son of Wilhelm, ruler of Germany. He really gets to know Tania during a family holiday in England. During a later trip to Russia, he asks Tania to marry him. This really isn’t up to her but her father and he’s asked for time to consult his advisors.
While waiting to hear if she will get permission to marry Adalbert, Tania meets Constantin, a young doctor-in-training. He makes her feel things she didn’t with Adalbert. As she gets to know Constantin better, she wonders where this friendship will go as there is no way her father would ever grant permission for her to marry a commoner!
Michael had to be the most beautiful man Tania had ever seen. The fact that he was seriously wounded had her worried enough to stay by his bed, day and night. Tania doesn’t know why she feels so drawn to him and when he recovers, he seems to feel the same way towards her. Again, this appears to be a doomed relationship but with a war and unrest can they even find time to explore the possibilities?
This book is written as a memoir by Tania. Though it’s written with the knowledge that everything is a past event, it feels fresh and new instead of boring and old. As a reader, I felt immersed into Russia, the events happening and Tania’s family life. Though this work is fiction, it is filled with facts but they blend together so well that it is impossible to tell which is which.
The details are rich and well researched. Many characters, in fact most of them, were real people. That being so, there were some things that could not be really changed such as deaths, births and family relationships. Still, these people came back to life and those characters that were not real blended into their lives in such a way that they should have been real or someone like them. Battles were discussed which had to have happened as were state visits. These are historical events and where you might want to change the outcome, they are written close to what actually happened. The research on life style, temperaments and everything that went into this novel was excellent and was incorporated in such a way as to be seamless within the story.
You don’t have to be a fan of historical novels to enjoy this one. The story tells itself in such a way to keep the readers wondering what next even though the end is well known. The themes are ones that are common to all times; the struggles within a family and the hope that love can conquer all. I finished this book knowing it was fiction but wishing it could have really happened…..but then again, anything is possible!
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.