Saturday, March 28, 2015

466 (2015 #23). The Tsarina's Daughter

by Carolly Erickson,
read by Susan Jameson

This book is borderline fantasy, because it takes a real person and generates an alternate reality for her.

Grand Duchess Tatiana Romanov was shot along with her siblings and her parents, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra, in July 1918, when she was 21 years old.  There were rumors for years that one of the tsar's four daughters (usually Anastasia) had survived, which were finally put to rest on April 30, 2008 with DNA testing.  This book was published five months later.

Author Carolly Erickson has Tatiana, or "Tania," surviving and living in Canada under the name Daria, looking back on her life at the age of 92 in 1989.  She escaped, and it's pretty clear early on that a young servant with revolutionary tendencies named Daria has taken her place and was murdered instead of her, but exactly how that comes about is not revealed until the end.

If you are looking for believable historical fiction, this is not the book for you.  Erickson has Tatiana behaving in ways that were unrealistic for a girl of her time period and station in life.  TWO lovers before the age of 18?  Frequent trips away from the palace to help at a clinic?

I'm not sure why the book is called "The Tsarina's Daughter."  Why not "The Tsar's Daughter"?  Supposedly Tatiana was her mother's favorite, but Erickson often has Tatiana thinking disparagingly of her mother and her weaknesses in the book.  Tatiana was also supposedly very close to her older sister Olga, but that is not the impression one gets when reading this book.

However, many details of the book are based in truth.  For example, the girls did sleep on camp beds as children, and the older two were nurses in World War II.  Tatiana did apparently fall in love with one of the men she was nursing.  I did feel, after listening to this book, that I had learned a little more about the lives of the Romanovs, and am interested in reading more about them.

British actress Susan Jameson is the reader.  Her voice comes across as a bit too old for most of the characters.  I suppose her British accent is appropriate, as Tatiana was the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England, but I cringed every time Jameson pronounced Olga's name as "Olger."

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[The audiobook, and a print copy for reference, were borrowed from and returned to my local public library.]

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