In the High Peaks

Thursday, June 16, 2022

20 Books of Summer: The Tsarina's Daughter and More

 I find it's a challenging juggling act to manage the reading for my Twenty Books of Summer. First of all, I must say I'm definitely enjoying myself as I plow through my fourth and fifth book from the list simultaneously. But I also have two other books on the list, borrowed from the library and sitting on my book pile, and I've got to pace myself or hurry up or something. One thing I won't do is plow through a book so fast that I don't care what I'm reading. I draw the line there. So what if a book is overdue for three or four days? So be it. 

Okay. My second read for the List was The Tsarina's Daughter by Ellen Alpsten (2022). Here's my take:

Elizabeth Petrovna Romanova, the second daughter of Peter the Great and his second wife (who ruled as Catherine I after her husband’s death), is the focus of this sweeping historical saga. Elizabeth (Elizaveta), by her 22nd birthday, is the only surviving child of Peter the Great, who, after a lifetime of family tragedies and challenges to her survival, managed to become Tsarina of all the Russias. But this book is not about her life as the ruler of Russia. It is about her childhood and young adult years amidst the riches and extraordinarily perilous and tumultuous Russian court that makes the story. What I enjoyed most about this 477-page book was all that I learned about the early 1700s in Russia: the latter half of Peter the Great’s reign, about Catherine I, and all the struggles waged after her death, as one relation after another fought amongst themselves, sometimes to the death, as to who will become tsar or tsarina.

For me, what’s valuable about reading good historical fiction, is the way it leads me to dig into learning more about the history of an era. In 2018, I bought The Romanovs by Simon Montefiore, which is a scrupulously detailed history of the Romanov Dynasty from 1613-1918. I’m finding I’m really interested to read the actual history of the difficult era following Peter the Great’s death and the power struggles that ensued.

If you like reading absorbing, vast historical novels about Russian history, you will really enjoy this book. The story line is strong, and the intricate descriptions of life during this time period are very well done.

Next up:  The Midcoast by Adam White. 


  1. Judith, the first (2) books I read from my (20) book list turned out to be disappointing. I know I will be do some substituting already. The Tsarina's Daughter is probably not for me but, Midcoast is on my summer book list (hope we both enjoy it).

  2. I really liked Midcoast. I'll be posting about it soon. When books are not enjoyable for one reason or another, I think it makes good sense to substitute. The summer is too short!

  3. So far I am glad to have read the first five books for the 20 books of summer. I think I have one book of historical fiction on my list, but it is set around World War II, which is pretty standard for me.

    1. That's great that you've already read 5 on your list. I'm currently in the midst of my fifth and sixth. I also read historicals about WWII--there are so many to choose from these days.