A wish-fulfillment fantasy about another Romanov who survived Ekaterinburg, this time the Tsar’s second daughter, Tatiana.
Forensic science has squelched speculation about whether or not any of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra’s five children escaped assassination by Bolsheviks in 1918. Erickson, who has carved out a niche in the historical genre for what she styles “historical entertainments” (e.g. The Secret Life of Josephine, 2007, etc.), never lets harsh fact impede a good story. Instead of the usual suspect, Anastasia, Erickson’s surviving Grand Duchess is Tatiana (aka Tania), now 93, living in obscurity in the West under the assumed name Daria Gradov. Tania has resolved to tell the world that the Romanov line did not die out. Flashback to pre–World War I St. Petersburg. The increasingly neurasthenic Alexandra has finally produced a male heir, but unfortunately, Tsarevich Alexei is born with hereditary hemophilia. Tania, at first preoccupied with typical princess concerns—French lessons, dancing instruction, ball gowns and draconian posture improvement administered by her overbearing Grandma Minnie—senses that her father’s throne is threatened. An attempt on Nicholas’s life sparked a major riot and Cossack rampage, and her Uncle Gega was blown to bits by a carriage bomb. As war approaches, Alexandra, when she’s not outraging the public with her German nationality and affinity for the rakish faith healer Rasputin, does her patriotic duty. Tania, meanwhile, toils tending wounded soldiers, like young Georgian Michael, whom she cures with Rasputin’s healing stick. Michael, with his Adonis-like physique (except for that nasty chest wound), is this romance’s Fabio. After exchanging identities with servant Daria, who then dies alongside her employers, Tania flees to Canada with Michael. Although the particulars of the Romanovs’ fall are familiar from other treatments, including Erickson’s biography of Alexandra, the suspense never flags, despite many improbabilities.
More entertainment than history, but all the better for it.