Publication Date: March 12, 2024
From the author of A Most English Princess comes a rich novel about young Princess Alix of Hesse—the future Alexandra, last Empress of Imperial Russia—and her sister, Princess Ella. Their decision to marry into the Romanov royal family changed history.
They were granddaughters of Queen Victoria and two of the most beautiful princesses in Europe. Princesses Alix and Ella were destined to wed well and wisely. But while their grandmother wants to join them to the English and German royal families, the sisters fall in love with Russia—and the Romanovs.
Defying the Queen’s dire warnings, Ella weds the tsar’s brother, Grand Duke Serge. Cultivated, aloof, and proud, Serge places his young wife on a pedestal for all to admire. Behind palace gates, Ella struggles to secure private happiness.
Alix, whisked away to Russia for Ella’s wedding, meets and captivates Nicky—heir apparent to the Russian throne. While loving him deeply, Alix hears a call of conscience, urging her to walk away.
Their fateful decisions to marry will lead to tragic consequences for not only themselves and their families, but for millions in Russia and around the globe.
The Romanov Brides is a moving and fascinating portrait of two bold and spirited royal sisters, and brings to vivid life imperial Russia—a dazzling, decadent world on the brink of disappearing forever.
The late 19th century found Europe’s royal family tree to be a tangled web of connections. The practice of intermarrying is illustrated with the German princesses of Hesse, who also happen to be the granddaughters of Queen Victoria.
Author Clare McHugh breathes life into these young women in The Romanov Brides. From the small country home in Darmstadt to the palaces in Berlin, Britain, and St. Petersburg, the novel tells the story of the last tsarina and her sisters.
The author subtly weaves in historical context as the four surviving Hesse princesses take their places as eligible brides. The oldest, Victoria, marries an untitled man she loves, and Irène marries a Prussian prince. However, Ella and Alix both factor strongly in their grandmother’s plans but resist.
Both young women are attracted to members of the Romanov family, but their Lutheran faith stands in the way. This serves as a vital point of dissension. Ella’s eventual marriage to Grand Duke Serge provides some intriguing points that make me want to learn more about this couple.
Young Alix struggles between duty and love, which is meticulously recorded. She eventually marries Nicholas, the Russian tsarevich. Unfortunately, history details the fate of the Romanovs.
The Romanov Brides delivers a sweeping tale highlighting the lives of these princesses, two of whom get caught up in the tragedy ultimately sweeping through the Romanov family.
Clare McHugh is the author of A Most English Princess, a historical novel about the family of Queen Victoria, and The Romanov Brides. A former newspaper reporter and magazine editor, McHugh graduated from Harvard College with a degree in European history. She currently lives in London and in Amagansett, NY.