The Romanov Brides
January 19, 2024

Book Review

The Romanov Brides

The Romanov Brides delves into the captivating tale of two sisters from the Grand Duchy of Hesse – a small territory in western Germany – who married into the Romanov royal family and altered history.

In 1882, during a visit by their Russian cousins Paul and Serge to Darmstadt, Ella is charmed by Serge, and ten-year-old Alix becomes a fervent advocate for Ella’s marriage to Serge. However, their youth leaves them naïve about life in Russia, and the rest of the family is largely against the union.

With their father’s consent to the marriage, he extracts a promise from Ella to maintain their faith and support her future husband publicly. Privately, however, he encourages her to be independent and express her own views. Concerned about Ella’s accommodating nature, he fears she may lack the fortitude to assert herself. This worry is echoed by her uncle, who questions the wisdom of raising children in a nation indifferent to its people. Ella’s eldest sister, Victoria, also probes Serge about Russian governance.

In a candid conversation, Serge reveals to Ella his preference for solitude or the company of his regiment, admitting that he had not desired female companionship until meeting her. He vows to respect her innocence and trust, flattering Ella but raising suspicions in her family about his motives.

Approaching seventeen and thus marriageable age, Alix is caught in the plans of her grandmother, the Queen of England. Ella, after a revelation in Jerusalem, argues against letting religious differences impede marriage. This stance irks their father, who views it as disrespectful in light of the wars fought over religion. Alix, smitten with Nicky during her Russian visit, is torn, especially as Nicky faces his own father’s disapproval due to Alix’s minor noble status and reluctance to convert to Orthodoxy.

This enthralling narrative portrays the sisters’ defiance of family and faith to bridge vastly different political realms. The skillfully crafted story weaves intrigue and mystery within a rich historical context, featuring lavish palaces, exquisite gowns, and stunning jewelry. The prose is masterful, evoking awe and immersing the reader in a history that continues to captivate.

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