6.1.09

THE PRINCESS AND THE PROLETARIAT. The semester break and the job meetings give me the opportunity to get a rolling start on this year's Fifty Book Challenge. Book Review No. 1 will be relatively short. The Tsarina's Daughter provides a reasonably plausible alternative history in which Tatiana, the second daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, escapes murder at the hands of the Communists. Such speculations are not new. The most famous claimants to be survivors were several Anastasias, and delays in finding human remains outside Ekaterinburg gave some hope for other legends involving one of the other daughters, and, more improbably, the hemophiliac Alexei. All of the Tsar's children have now been accounted for. A postscript to the novel acknowledges as much. That a high-born Russian might have found safety in the prairie provinces is not implausible, given migration patterns of the time. That I invoke Mark Twain in my title suggests a somewhat less plausible story of Tatiana's coming of age. A reader might find a good genealogical chart of the European royal families helpful, in order to keep straight all the relationships of cousins or uncles or aunts, particularly in those passages when Tsar and Kaiser and His Britannic Majesty are together in Berlin or at the Isle of Wight.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

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