Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Romanov Bride - Book Review (Spring Reading Thing #11)

The Grand Duchess Elisavyeta has always led a life of royalty.  She was born a princess of Germany and married the Grand Duke Sergei of Russia and because her sister married into the Romanov dynasty and is now the Tsaritsa of all Russia, Elisavyeta lives in the very rich and pampered courts of the royals of Russia.  Her husband lavishes the finest of jewels on her and she is renowned among the privileged for the these and her beauty.  But the teachings and example of her mother in caring for the people never leave her and as her husband gets harder and tougher in his ruling of Moscow, she finds herself struggling with the hard lives of the people.  When her husband is assassinated she sells all her jewels and possessions and builds a convent and hospital to help the poorest of the poor.  She devotes her life to serving the Lord and the people.

Pavel is a young, newly married peasant come to Moscow to try to provide for his wife and soon to be child.  Living in squalor, sharing a basement corner with four other families he can barely afford to put bread on the table.  But he and his wife have the love for their Tsar and Tsaritsa that most Russians did and with optimism believe they will be heard if they just bring their petition and trials to the attention of the Tsar.  He is the "father" of the country after all, and they his "children".  How can he not listen to them and help them?  But when they join a peaceful march and things turn ugly, Pavel's life is changed forever and as his heart fills with hatred and bitterness he joins the revolutionaries.  As Russia is thrown into turmoil Pavel's and Elisavyeta's life will be thrown together.

I really liked this story.  As with "The Kitchen Boy", Robert Alexander has done a lot of research into Russian history so all the historical aspects of the Romanov family and the revolution and the events leading to it are woven so well with the fictional parts of his story.  The story is told in first person from two viewpoints that of Ella ( the real life Duchess turned nun) and Pavel (the fictional character, the revolutionary).  Their lives take very different directions, Ella's compassionate and caring, and Pavel's, brutal and obsessed.  I found it so interesting how each character dealt with the death and tragedy in their lives and chose very different paths in reaction to it.  The hope that Ella brings to the sickest, the downtrodden and outcasts of Russia is in strong contrast to the hate and violence of the revolutionaries.  Through the voice of Pavel, you gain an understanding of where Russia was at the time from viewpoint of the peasant and the poor and how bitterness creeping in can find hatred and will use any means to get change.   I found the change in Ella's life from extravagance and oppulence to chosen poverty and service was amazing and the fact that it is true even more miraculous.  

 In warning there is a few vulgar parts in the story.  When the revolutionaries speak of the Tsaritsa, it is in very vulgar and profane terms.  It is part of history, and how the revolutionaries spread hate for her amongst the people.  These parts are a few paragraphs and the book is not permeated with them but they are a nasty part.  Parts of the story are very violent as they deal with the real events in history of the revolution.

If interested, you can go here for the author's video of the story


Faith said...

wow! that book sounds like I could learn alot about that time period in Russian history. My youngest would like it when she gets older as she is studying Russian and loves historical fiction, too!! I'm ALMOST done with book 11 on my reading list and hope to finish it tonite just in time for wrapping up the spring reading thing!! i love that tomorrow is my last day of work and then I'm off until September. I plan on doing LOTS of reading this summer on the beach, deck, front porch, etc.!

ellen b. said...

Well, this one might be one I'll read with all this history from Russia in it. Happy Summer to you Susanne!

Carrie said...

No, no, no! You beat me to it! ;D I can't read your review until I read this book. (I actually checked it out from the library and had it sitting on my desk until it's due date. Bad. me.)