An aging Russian princess looks back on her life.
As Anna Mayakovsky shuffles along Kilburn Lane, on good days as far as Harrow Road, her greatest fear is that her great-granddaughters, Sonia and Jennifer, will whisk her out of her tiny flat and put her in a home. An unworthy end, she reflects, for someone who once dined with the Romanovs. Although she was born a peasant, a local nobleman who owned a vast estate near her village approached Anna’s father one day and, for a few rubles, was allowed to bring her home to be raised along with his children, Misha and Mariamna. Anna doesn't know why she's there, and while the Count is kind to her, Countess Olga, his wife, taunts her mercilessly about her humble origins. Eventually strong, generous Prince Konstantin Mayakovsky takes comely Anna, already pregnant with Misha’s child, to his palace in St. Petersburg to become his wife. As the Princess Mayakovsky, Anna becomes the friend and confidante of Czar Nicholas and the Empress Alexandra (although privately she thinks them terribly bourgeois). She becomes the mother to her son, Nicholas, named for her husband’s patron. She also becomes a Bolshevik spy. Later, as the Revolution unfolds, Lenin and Stalin rely on her good counsel in their quest to transform Russia. Anna’s sexual adventures are as prodigious as her political exploits. After her initiation in carnal delights by Misha, she takes as her lover dreamy revolutionary Sasha Krasnov, who’s eventually exiled to Siberia. She also beds boorish factory owner Peter Nechaev, who despite his exploitation of his mill workers rocks her world. Rasputin invites her to “Take the staff of my love in your mouth” but ultimately punks out. She gives birth to a second child, Tania, but loses her to the growing chaos that envelops her homeland.
Anna Karenina as rewritten by Jackie Collins.