The German Woman by Janet Ashton
Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine was born in 1872, a much-loved grand-daughter of Britain's Queen Victoria and a member of the trans-European network of cousins who sat on thrones from London to St Petersburg; from Helsinki to Calcutta. Forty-six years later, as ex-Empress Alexandra of Russia, she died in a hail of bullets in a remote Siberian cellar, the hated "German woman" of revolutionary propaganda, an unbending autocrat paradoxically believed to have taken an illiterate peasant as her lover.
In this fictionalised autobiography, Alexandra tells her own story for the first time. It is the tale of a longing for meaning and acceptance that began in her rather lonely childhood; of the broad repercussions of her complex relationships with her older siblings and of her passionate love affair with her husband Nicholas, the last Tsar of Russia. It is the story of how intensely she strove to understand the whole of Nicholas's world, religious, political and intellectual, almost pre-disposed to accept a Russian monarchist viewpoint that held him to be something close to a saint. But it is the story too of how she sought to help Nicholas meet the challenges that faced the country at the outset of the twentieth century. Seen from Alexandra's perspective, her choices can be viewed as rational in a way that is often lost in conventional biographies.
This is the tale too of the upbringing of Alexandra's children Olga, Tatiana, Marie, Anastasia and Alexei and her reactions to dealing with their very different personalities. It is the story of her family homes and her artistic interests, of her household, of her friends and enemies, and of Russia's politicians, colourful individuals who fought and gossiped and made her story what it was. It is the story of how and why Alexandra came to depend on the peasant Rasputin, told without a touch of the melodrama that disfigures so many accounts of his life. And it is, finally, the story of how she and Nicholas handled the drama of the Russian Revolution and the very changed lives they lived in captivity.
About the author: Janet Ashton works at the British Library in the West European Language Collections and has written on Alexandra's life and world and other aspects of modern history for several specialist magazines. She acted as researcher and consultant on a number of significant recent publications in the field.
The author's web site is located at: http://www.directarticle.org/Germanwoman.html
Praise for the German Woman
"Ashton has the unique ability to tell a story in a penetrating and suspenseful way. She weaves a marvelous tale as Alexandra, the last empress of Russia, recalls the events of her life, the people she knew and the things she has seen. The reader knows the German-born tsaritsa faces a tragic end, so a sense of doom hangs over the narrative. But things move quickly to an end which is all too logical. Ashton is a fine historian and she understands the period, but she is never pedantic or lacking in the ability to share the excitement of what she knows. The secondary characters - Nicholas II (her husband), OTMA (the four girls), Alexis (the son and heir) - are fully developed characters who resonate with their own lives and interests. THE GERMAN WOMAN is a compelling union of fact and fantasy. It is one of the publishing events of the season"
"In The German Woman, author Janet Ashton takes readers deep into the frustratingly complex and fascinating world of Alexandra, Russia's last Empress. It is Alexandra herself who unravels the events of her life, creating a kaleidoscopic rumination on her transformation from minor German princess and granddaughter of Queen Victoria to the controversial woman at the epicenter of one of the 20th Century's most fabled and tragic romances. Ashton's grasp of nuance and detail are so convincing that one feels Alexandra's voice in each sentence. Told in a compelling and insightful way, The German Woman offers a knowing, believable, almost privileged glimpse into the mind of one of history's most enigmatic characters."
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