Friday, May 18, 2012

Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina

Virginia Rounding offers a fresh look at the relationship of Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra (Alix) his Empress, their accomplishments and fatal flaws, in this intriguing biographical study. For those not familiar with the Romanovs, there is enough background not to get lost. For those who are familiar with the topic, Rounding provides unique insights focusing on aspects of the imperial marriage and political policies too often ignored.

Rounding explores Nicholas’ political achievements and his oft-demeaned temperament and Alix’s mysterious, incapacitating ailments. While her symptoms are usually claimed to be the result of hysteria, Rounding surmises that the Empress may have had some genuine health issues, together with emotional instability. The strange dynamic between the imperial couple and Alix’s friend Anna Vyrubova is scrutinized in detail. Alix’s belief in Rasputin is blamed for precipitating the catastrophes which followed, not so much what Rasputin did as what he was perceived to have done by the public. Most enlightening is the treatment of the spiritual lives of Nicky and Alix and how their faith flowed into their love for each other. As a stirring portrait of a marriage, this book is second to none.

 This review first appeared in the May 2012 edition of the Historical Novels Review.)

(*NOTE: This book was sent to me by the Historical Novel Society in exchange for my honest opinion.)


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