OVERRIDE

From Splendor to Revolution

The Romanov Women, 1847--1928

Julia P. Gelardi

St. Martin's Press

This sweeping saga recreates the extraordinary opulence and violence of Tsarist Russia as the shadow of revolution fell over the land, and destroyed a way of life for these Imperial women

The early 1850s until the late 1920s marked a turbulent and significant era for Russia. During that time the country underwent a massive transformation, taking it from days of grandeur under the tsars to the chaos of revolution and the beginnings of the Soviet Union.

At the center of all this tumult were four women of the Romanov dynasty. Marie Alexandrovna and Olga Constantinovna were born into the family, Russian Grand Duchesses at birth. Marie Feodorovna and Marie Pavlovna married into the dynasty, the former born a Princess of Denmark, the latter a Duchess of the German duchy of Mecklendburg-Schwerin.

In From Splendor to Revolution, we watch these pampered aristocratic women fight for their lives as the cataclysm of war engulfs them. In a matter of a few short years, they fell from the pinnacle of wealth and power to the depths of danger, poverty, and exile. It is an unforgettable epic story.

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FROM SPLENDOR TO REVOLUTION (1: A SPLENDID IMPERIAL COURT)

Nothing as meaningful and sacred as the coronation of a Romanov tsar could take place anywhere but in the very heart of the Russian Empire. Even resplendent St. Petersburg, Peter the Great’s creation and the most western city in the empire, was unworthy. Only historic Moscow, the most Russian of cities, would do. Since the days of old Muscovy hundreds of years before, sentiment about rulers had changed little in the heart and soul of the average Russian. “Russians had been taught” from their cradle “to regard

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REVIEWS

Praise for From Splendor to Revolution

“Independent historian Gelardi has done her homework, drawing on an impressive array of primary and secondary sources to deliver a joint biography of four women who were part of Russia’s imperial dynasty in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. . . . Against the backdrop of a tumultuous period in Russian history, this is really a book about an extended family, with a family’s sorrows, joys, squabbles, and scandals, albeit on a very grand scale. . . . this is an absorbing account that will appeal to Russian history buffs and to those who enjoy reading about royals.”—Booklist

“Relating the drama and tragedy of royal life, Gelardi ably weaves in the extended family ties that connected most European rulers, including Queen Victoria, while also including helpful genealogy charts. Gelardi’s narrative framework of the four Romanov women’s long lives works well to explain not only the realties of the European courts and alliances but also the unique aspects of the Russian dynasty, which suffered repeated assassination attempts even during the age of splendor, resulting in young Nicholas II’s observation of his grandfather’s murder, possibly hastening Russia’s slide to revolution.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Gelardi does an exceptional job of relating the last years of the Romanovs via the formerly underutilized perspectives of the women behind the men. While Orlando Figes’s Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia used Tolstoy’s War and Peace as its framework, telling some of the same story, Gelardi offers a more richly detailed account, sure to captivate those with a deep interest in Russian and interrelated European history. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal

“Gelardi’s style, as in her previous work, the superb “In Triumph’s Wake,” is simple, straightforward and engaging. Her research is thorough and her sources solid. She contrasts well the Romanovs’ privileged lives with the privations brought on by the Russian Revolution, and she doesn’t skip the grimmest details. Gelardi is proof that history written from the female perspective can be all business. . . . another of Gelardi’s excellent chronicles.”—Roanoke Times

“The Romanovs of Russia, like the Stuarts of England and the Bourbons in France, were one of those famous European dynasties doomed to end in violence and exile. Now, Julia P. Gelardi vividly describes how four Romanov women—an empress, a queen and two duchesses—though born into luxury, died in relative poverty. . . . Gelardi has written a richly detailed portrait of four women, whom marriage and blood put at the center of European history, and, as regimes fell, their worlds changed forever. It’s a complex story well-told . . . an absorbing account.”—Richmond Times Dispatch

“Gelardi is an excellent writer and a wise historian. She balances her often page-turning narrative of the spectacle and intrigue of the Imperial Russian court with insight into deeper themes. . . . To depict the terrifying events of the last chapters of From Splendor to Revolution calls for compassion and human insight, as well as the skill of a master story-teller. Gelardi certainly demonstrates that she possesses these gifts. . . . Gelardi has written a fine work of narrative history that will stand comparison with classics such as Robert Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra and Edward Crankshaw’s The Shadow of the Winter Palace.”—California Literary Review

“Independent historian Gelardi has done her homework, drawing on an impressive array of primary and secondary sources to deliver a joint biography of four women who were part of Russia’s imperial dynasty in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. . . . Against the backdrop of a tumultuous period in Russian history, this is really a book about an extended family, with a family’s sorrows, joys, squabbles, and scandals, albeit on a very grand scale. . . . this is an absorbing account that will appeal to Russian history buffs and to those who enjoy reading about royals.”—Booklist

“Relating the drama and tragedy of royal life, Gelardi ably weaves in the extended family ties that connected most European rulers, including Queen Victoria, while also including helpful genealogy charts. Gelardi’s narrative framework of the four Romanov women’s long lives works well to explain not only the realties of the European courts and alliances but also the unique aspects of the Russian dynasty, which suffered repeated assassination attempts even during the age of splendor, resulting in young Nicholas II’s observation of his grandfather’s murder, possibly hastening Russia’s slide to revolution.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Gelardi does an exceptional job of relating the last years of the Romanovs via the formerly underutilized perspectives of the women behind the men. While Orlando Figes’s Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia used Tolstoy’s War and Peace as its framework, telling some of the same story, Gelardi offers a more richly detailed account, sure to captivate those with a deep interest in Russian and interrelated European history. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal

“Gelardi’s style, as in her previous work, the superb “In Triumph’s Wake,” is simple, straightforward and engaging. Her research is thorough and her sources solid. She contrasts well the Romanovs’ privileged lives with the privations brought on by the Russian Revolution, and she doesn’t skip the grimmest details. Gelardi is proof that history written from the female perspective can be all business. . . . another of Gelardi’s excellent chronicles.”—Roanoke Times

“The Romanovs of Russia, like the Stuarts of England and the Bourbons in France, were one of those famous European dynasties doomed to end in violence and exile. Now, Julia P. Gelardi vividly describes how four Romanov women—an empress, a queen and two duchesses—though born into luxury, died in relative poverty. . . . Gelardi has written a richly detailed portrait of four women, whom marriage and blood put at the center of European history, and, as regimes fell, their worlds changed forever. It’s a complex story well-told . . . an absorbing account.”—Richmond Times Dispatch

“Gelardi is an excellent writer and a wise historian. She balances her often page-turning narrative of the spectacle and intrigue of the Imperial Russian court with insight into deeper themes. . . . To depict the terrifying events of the last chapters of From Splendor to Revolution calls for compassion and human insight, as well as the skill of a master story-teller. Gelardi certainly demonstrates that she possesses these gifts. . . . Gelardi has written a fine work of narrative history that will stand comparison with classics such as Robert Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra and Edward Crankshaw’s The Shadow of the Winter Palace.”—California Literary Review

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Julia P. Gelardi

  • JULIA P. GELARDI is the author of Born to Rule and In Triumph’s Wake. She is an independent historian, currently living in Minnesota with her husband and two daughters.

  • Julia P. Gelardi
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    From Splendor to Revolution

    The Romanov Women, 1847--1928

    Julia P. Gelardi

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    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    St. Martin's Press

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