Alexandra: The Last Tsarina
The author of thirteen previous books, Carolly Erickson approaches the story of Alexandra, the Tsarina who was assassinated during the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918, as a psychological expose.
Granddaughter to Queen Victoria and raised in Darmstadt, Germany, Alix rejects her grandmother’s choice of husband after she meets and falls madly in love with her cousin, Nicky, in line as Tsar. Having a delicate emotional nature, Alix arrives in Russia where she is universally disdained by many members of the royal family. Alix tries desperately but fails to win their love, affection or respect. Nicky, an ineffectual Tsar, does not have the leadership qualities necessary to deal with the growing, and violent, revolutionary activities in his nation. Although Alix tries to be Nicky’s emotional mainstay, she ultimately fails to prevent the coming chaos, even resorting to the help of mediums. The rest, as they say, is history.
I have had discussions with a number of people about Erickson’s apparent willingness to accept the traditional “line” about the assassination of the Romanov family in 1918. She does not explore, nor does she appear to give any credence to, the debate about two of Alix’s children, whose bodies were never found. What is clear is how much research she has done in writing this book. The notes are compendious. The photographs permit the reader to make a deeper connection to this family. What is remarkable is how our understanding of Alix has been altered by eighty years of history and how this Tsarina, caught up in the turbulent times in which she lived, is now revered.