It is 1989 and Daria Gradov is an elderly grandmother living in the rural West. What neighbours and even her children don't know, however, is that she is not who she claims to be - the widow of a Russian immigrant of modest means. In actuality she began her life as the Grand Duchess Tatiana.
This is the story of Tatiana (Tania) Romanov, the second daughter to Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra. Tania and her sisters and brother life a life of luxury in pre-revolutionary Russia in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. When little Alexei is born with "the English disease" (hemophilia) the family turns to the illiterate monk Rasputin as the key for his survival. Soon war breaks out and revolution sweeps across the country sending the family into imprisonment if far away Siberia.
The Tsarina's Daughter was a hard book for me to give a typical rating to. Normally I don't have any trouble deciding where it should land on my rating scale, however this one proved to be difficult, therefore I have decided to give it two sets of ratings. As a story, I give it 4 stars; the story itself was imaginative, and very well written. The characters were well developed, though unbelievable. However as a historical fiction, I give it 1 1/2 stars; where was the history? The idea that Tatiana Romanov was able to escape from the palace on multiple occasions, had two lovers before the age of 18, and to escape certain death and married a common soldier ... all highly unlikely to occur. I think that a lot of people, myself included, thinking that when a book is marketed as a historical fiction that we expect there to be some liberties taken with the characters - conversations and small events. However, when there are details in these novels (such as the daughter of the Tsar having two lovers while in her teens, one of these relationships being condoned by her aunt) it almost ruins the integrity of being called a historical fiction.
While I love imagining "what might have been" in regards to the demise of the Romanov family, even this story seemed a little too far fetched to believe. I am a fan of Erickson as both a historian and as a writer however I was greatly disappointed with this novel - it is definitely not one of her best works. I would caution those who are interested in reading this book - if you are a purist, definitely do not read this novel, it will only drive you crazy pointed out all of the historical inaccuracies and portrayal of the Imperial family. However, if you are looking for an interesting read, a "what if..." story and aren't too particular about the inaccuracies, then this is a decent read.