The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten
If there’s one thing The Tsarina’s Daughter emphasizes, it’s that it’s not easy being in line for a throne!
The Tsarina’s Daughter follows the story of Elizabeth, daughter of Tsar Peter the Great and Empress Catherine. Covering the span of her life from childhood until she takes the throne, this is a sweeping saga full of colorful characters, intrigue, and extreme court politics.
While this book is the sequel to the novel, Tsarina, I was happy to find it worked well as a standalone. I’m not familiar with this time period of Russian history and found the fictionalized retelling to be fascinating. (Although, I would have loved dates at the beginning of the chapters. As someone less familiar with this piece of history, it would have helped me organize the story better in my head.)
The first part of the book follows a young Elizabeth. She is clearly innocent and naïve to the plight of the Russian people. However, as she matures, I found her character much more tolerable. She is ambitious and loyal, and seems to see the vast discrepancy between her family’s wealth and the starvation of her people. I also found the plot more captivating later in her life and would have loved to read more about her actual reign. (Although I’ve heard that there’s to be a third book? So, perhaps we will uncover more then.)
There are a lot of characters within this book but thankfully, they weren’t too difficult to keep straight. For the most part, they were a colorful and fascinating lot. There is constant backstabbing and family drama, woven with privilege and a constant thirst for power — and this makes for quite the tight rope walk for Elizabeth on her way to inheriting the throne!
With an incredible time period and setting, this novel is easy to recommend for fans of historical fiction and Russian history.
Readers who love historical fiction, Russian history, or royalty
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About The Tsarina’s Daughter:
(From the publisher) Ellen Alpsten’s stunning novel, The Tsarina’s Daughter, is the dramatic story of Elizabeth, daughter of Catherine I and Peter the Great, who ruled Russia during an extraordinary life marked by love, danger, passion and scandal.
Born into the House of Romanov to the all-powerful Peter the Great and his wife, Catherine, a former serf, beautiful Tsarevna Elizabeth is the envy of the Russian empire. She is insulated by luxury and spoiled by her father, who dreams for her to marry King Louis XV of France and rule in Versailles. But when a woodland creature gives her a Delphic prophecy, her life is turned upside down. Her volatile father suddenly dies, her only brother has been executed and her mother takes the throne of Russia.
As friends turn to foe in the dangerous atmosphere of the Court, the princess must fear for her freedom and her life. Fate deals her blow after blow, and even loving her becomes a crime that warrants cruel torture and capital punishment: Elizabeth matures from suffering victim to strong and savvy survivor. But only her true love and their burning passion finally help her become who she is. When the Imperial Crown is left to an infant Tsarevich, Elizabeth finds herself in mortal danger and must confront a terrible dilemma – seize the reins of power and harm an innocent child, or find herself following in the footsteps of her murdered brother.
Hidden behind a gorgeous, wildly decadent façade, the Russian Imperial Court is a viper’s den of intrigue and ambition. Only a woman possessed of boundless courage and cunning can prove herself worthy to sit on the throne of Peter the Great.