Monday, March 18, 2024

The Romanov Brides (Clare McHugh)

In The Romanov Brides: A Novel of the Last Tsarina and Her Sisters, author Clare McHugh offers a meticulously researched book on the lives of Princesses Ella and Alix, who would go on to become a Grand Duchess and Empress of Russia respectively. Both royal sisters made fateful decisions that would change their lives immensely.

Just two of the many grandchildren of the imposing Queen Victoria, the sisters are brought up with expectations of who they will marry (and this does not include Russians). Despite this, they are drawn to Russia and the Romanovs. Ella defies warnings and marries Grand Duke Serge, and Alix falls in love with Nicky, the heir to the Russian throne. 

I love books about royal families and was especially surprised how interrelated the families were. Members were encouraged to marry for status and country, even when they were first cousins! I imagine that except for the staunchest royalists, it would be a bit difficult to keep all the royal lines straight. However, McHugh does offer some handy diagrams to help with this. It was especially fascinating to see how the real characters in The Romanov Brides were direct descendants of the British royal family. For example, one of the sisters of Ella and Alix (Victoria) had a daughter named Alice, who was Prince Philip's mother.  

Overall, this book is a moving tale that offers deep insights into the lives of two spirited royal sisters. It's a must-read for those interested in the Romanovs and historical fiction in general.