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Empress Alexandra: The Special Relationship Between Russia's Last Tsarina and Queen Victoria by Melanie Clegg: A Book Review

Empress Alexandra: The Special Relationship Between Russia’s Last Tsarina and Queen Victoria
Author: Melanie Clegg

Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography

Publisher: Pen and Sword History

Release Date: 2020

Pages: 208

Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Melanie Clegg takes a fresh and intimate look at the close relationship that existed between the last Empress of Russia and her grandmother Queen Victoria.

     When Queen Victoria’s second daughter Princess Alice married the Prince Louis of Hesse and Rhine in 1862 even her own mother described the ceremony as ‘more of a funeral than a wedding’ thanks to the fact that it took place shortly after the death of Alice’s beloved father Prince Albert. Sadly, the young princess’ misfortunes didn’t end there and when she also died prematurely, her four motherless daughters were taken under the wing of their formidable grandmother, Victoria. Alix, the youngest of Alice’s daughters and allegedly one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe, was a special favorite of the elderly queen, who hoped that she would marry her cousin Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and one day reign beside him as Queen. However, the spirited and stubborn Alix had other ideas…

     My Review: Empress Alexandra of Russia was one of the most tragic empresses in history. Everyone knows about her horrific end. However, there have been very few biographies of her. In this new biography of Empress Alexandra, her life is retold through the eyes of her infamous grandmother, Queen Victoria. Empress Alexandra shows how the Tsarina of Russia was Queen Victoria’s favorite granddaughter. The British queen tried to matchmaker Empress Alexandra with her cousin, the Duke of Clarence. However, Alexandra was determined to fight her grandmother’s interests and marry for love.

    This book is not really a straightforward biography of Empress Alexandra. Instead, it mostly focuses on how Queen Victoria views her granddaughter. It does not even cover Alexandra’s whole life. Instead, the main focus is on Queen Victoria. It felt more like a biography of Queen Victoria with facts about the Romanovs sprinkled throughout the book. We do not even get to Empress Alexandra until after the book spends a lot of time discussing the relationship between Queen Victoria and Princess Alice, who is Alexandra’s mother. When Alexandra is mentioned, we really do not get a glimpse as to her childhood and how she felt through the tragic events that affected her deeply later in life. The only time we get a glimpse of her personality is Queen Victoria’s matchmaking and how Empress Alexandra wants to marry for love that would only bring sorrow to her later. Therefore, I came away from this book not really knowing who Empress Alexandra truly was.

    Overall, this biography is about Queen Victoria’s relationship with her granddaughter. The biography was very slow and often went off in many tangents and useless facts that did not enhance the biography. The book is not very well-researched and mostly uses sources from Queen Victoria’s writings and biographies about Queen Victoria. Only eight sources mentioned in her biography are about the Romanovs. This lack of scholarly research is really disappointing in a biography because it shows that the author did not really do much research to get to know her subject. Thus, this book is heavily biased because it is solely from Queen Victoria’s perspective. Therefore, this is not a scholarly account of the Romanovs. This book is perfect if you are fans of both Queen Victoria and the Romanovs. However, Alexandria: The Last Tsarina by Carolly Erickson and The Last Empress: The Life and Times of Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsarina of Russia by Greg King are more superior reads and heavily researched biographies of Empress Alexandra.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars


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