Title: The Last Grand Duchess
Author: Bryn Turnbull
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: February 8, 2022
This sweeping new novel from the internationally bestselling author of The Woman Before Wallis takes readers behind palace walls to see the end of Imperial Russia through the eyes of Olga Romanov, the first daughter of the last Tsar.
Grand Duchess Olga Romanov comes of age amid a shifting tide for the great dynasties of Europe. But even as unrest simmers in the capital, Olga is content to live within the confines of the sheltered life her parents have built for and her three sisters: hiding from the world on account of their mother’s ill health, their brother Alexei’s secret affliction, and rising controversy over Father Grigori Rasputin, the priest on whom the Tsarina has come to rely. Olga’s only escape from the seclusion of Alexander Palace comes from her aunt, who takes pity on her and her sister Tatiana, inviting them to grand tea parties amid the shadow court of Saint Petersburg. Finally, she glimpses a world beyond her mother’s Victorian sensibilities—a world of opulent ballrooms, scandalous flirtation, and whispered conversation.
But as war approaches, the palaces of Russia are transformed. Olga and her sisters trade their gowns for nursing habits, assisting in surgeries and tending to the wounded bodies and minds of Russia’s military officers. As troubling rumours about her parents trickle in from the Front, Olga dares to hope that a budding romance might survive whatever the future may hold. But when tensions run high and supplies run low, the controversy over Rasputin grows into fiery protest, and calls for revolution threaten to end 300 years of Romanov rule.
At turns glittering and harrowing, The Last Grand Duchess is story about dynasty, duty, and love, but above all, it’s the story of a family who would choose devotion to each other over everything—including their lives.
Grand Duchess Olga Romanov is coming of age in the late 1910s. She’s experiencing her first romances, as well as political turmoil. In 1914, she is beginning to fall in love with soldiers who are beneath her class. There are also rumors about her family, particularly her mother’s close relationship with Father Grigori Rasputin, but there is a reason they keep him so close. In 1917, her father is away at war when he abdicates his throne, signaling the beginning of the end for the Romanov family. Olga must navigate the politics of her country and time period while also keeping her family together.
This was a beautiful story. There are two narratives, one beginning in 1913, and the other beginning in 1917. Though these two narratives are close together in time, there are important events that happen in both of these time periods of Olga’s life.
I loved the ending of this story. It gave me goosebumps! I had read an article about Grand Duchess Olga and her Canadian connection, but I was completely shocked at the ending. I can’t explain why this surprised me without giving away the ending, but if you’ve read it, I would love to discuss it. It was definitely worth the read!
The Last Grand Duchess is an amazing story about the Romanov family.
Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book.
What to read next:
The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul
The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull
About the author:
Bryn Turnbull is the bestselling author of The Woman Before Wallis. Equipped with a master’s of letters in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews, a master’s of professional communication from Ryerson University and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from McGill University, Bryn focuses on finding stories of women lost within the cracks of the historical record. She lives in Toronto.
Have you read The Last Grand Duchess? What did you think of it?