Covering the years 1847 to 1928, From Splendor to Revolution chronicles the grand but difficult lives of four women who were born or married into the Romanov dynasty: an empress, a grand duchess, a queen and a duchess, each a generation older than Russia’s final tsar, Nicolas II. By this time England’s monarchy was constitutional, and Queen Victoria’s political power came from her cunning, and her skill at marrying her children and grandchildren into strategically important European royal families. Russia, however, was still ruled by tsars who believed their autocracy and duty to serve were divinely commissioned. The royal family lived in unimaginable grandeur before the Russian revolution, but even in those high times political unrest meant they had to cope with well-founded fears of death and mutilation, and the shockingly brutal murders of some of their dearest family members. Marie Feodorovna, or Minnie, was the last tsar’s mother. Originally a Danish princess she married and moved to Russia at 18 where her engaging personality helped make her popular with the people, and she became the empress only fifteen years later when her father-in-law Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. Minnie was a voice of reason when her son and daughter-in-law were under the destructive spell of Rasputin, but later she could never bring herself to believe that Tsar Nicolas II had been murdered along with his wife and children, even though she lived a decade after their deaths. Marie Pavlovna, or Miechen, was Minnie’s sister-in-law, married to her husband’s brother Vladimir, and Miechen was a highly skilled, savvy and ambitious socialite. Pious and sweet Olga, who became the Queen of Greece, was the daughter of Alexander II’s brother Constantine. Marie Alexandrovna was the sister of Alexander III, and so the sister-in-law of Minnie and Miechen. After the early death of her sister, Marie Alexandrovna was the only surviving daughter of Alexandra II, and was so beloved and spoiled by him that she might never have been persuaded to leave her father’s side if he hadn’t angered the family by taking a mistress, who he eventually moved into the palace with their born out of wedlock children. As a means of escape, Marie Alexandrovna married Queen Victoria’s wayward son Alfred, brother of King Edward, and through him became the German Duchess of Coburn. The text of From Splendor to Revolution has been copiously, even distractingly, footnoted throughout the book, but that means you can check the original sources when you find something particularly fascinating, something that happened to me a lot. This book will be well loved by most anyone interested in the Romanov family.