The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull (excerpt) – Books

The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull (excerpt) – Books
The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull (excerpt) – Books

Ciela Publishing House

In the “Reading” section, Dnevnik publishes an excerpt from “The Last Grand Duchess”, with author Bryn Turnbull, provided by Ciela Publishing

The tragic fate of the Romanov dynasty comes to life through the eyes of The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull. The eldest daughter of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II takes readers to Imperial Russia of the early 20th century.

The Romanov family is commonly associated with the iconic Princess Anastasia, whose heartbreaking story inspired one of the most beloved animations of the 90s. But what if there was another princess with an equally fascinating life?

The large-scale historical novel “The Last Grand Duchess” by the Canadian writer Bryn Turnbull is published in Bulgarian, in which the end of Tsarist Russia comes to life through the eyes of the eldest daughter of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II – Olga Romanova, whose fate often remains in the shadow of events .

Based on the terrifying true story, The Last Grand Duchess is a glamorous and harrowing tale of revolution, dynasty and duty. A story centered around a family who would choose love and devotion to each other above all else – even their lives.

Grand Duchess Olga Romanova came of age amidst the storms and unceasing revolutions at the beginning of the 20th century. But even as Russia is rocked by increasingly bloodthirsty riots and discontent, the young girl lives lavishly within the sheltered life her parents have built for her and her three sisters behind the walls of the Alexander Palace.

Even there, however, rumors of their mother’s ill health and the mysterious illness of their brother Alexei, which threatens to deprive Russia of an heir to the throne, inevitably overtake the Romanov sisters. Meanwhile, a new influential and controversial figure stands out on the horizon in the person of the ominous priest Grigory Rasputin.

Absorbed by the loneliness of the palace, which has become her home, but also her prison, Olga finds an escape from reality only in the lavish tea parties organized by one of her aunts. There, the young princess finally has the chance to look beyond her mother’s Victorian upbringing to the world of glittering ballrooms, whispered intrigues, and indescribable opulence of Imperial Russia.

But the approach of war forever changes life in the palace. Olga and her sisters are forced to replace their evening dresses and beautiful hairstyles with sisterly aprons. Ballrooms become infirmaries, piano and painting lessons give way to care for wounded soldiers. Tensions in Russia continue to rise, and disputes over Rasputin escalate into calls for revolution that threaten to end 300 years of Romanov rule.

While disturbing rumors about the fate of her parents come from the front, the young princess will have to fight for her family against all odds. And a nascent romance will awaken in Olga’s heart dreams for the future – whatever it hides.

Epic and spectacular, yet stunningly tender and personal, “The Last Grand Duchess” immerses readers in a symphony of emotions and feelings and presents a new reading of the well-known story, in which the last notes of the Romanov family disappear with stunning and tragic beauty.

With a masterful eye for detail and a thorough study of the period, Bryn Turnbull has established herself as one of the strong voices in contemporary historical fiction that fans of the genre should certainly keep an eye on.

As a reader of “Dnevnik”, you can buy the book with a special discount of at least 10% at The code for it is Dnevnik100. Order the book here.
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The Last Grand Duchess

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Excerpt from Bryn Turnbull’s The Last Grand Duchess

November 1907
Alexander Palace

The air in Mom’s reception room was thick with smoke and rumours, eerily quiet despite the crowd gathered inside. On either side of the double doors, two footmen stood ready, their bright shining liveries standing out against the marble walls. Olga’s aunts and uncles were gathered around the huge windows, waiting for the dawn as the light from the ruby ​​chandelier cast bloody reflections on the parquet floor.
Olga could hear cries of pain from the end of the corridor, hurried footsteps that matched the feverish rhythm of her anxious heart.

She shivered and wished she could ignore the noise. By the fireplace, Aunt Olga stopped mid-sentence and squeezed Aunt Ksenia’s fingers while they waited for the noise to die down. Uncle Sandro, hugging Tatiana and Maria by the shoulders while reading them a book of fairy tales, closed his eyes and squeezed them, and his face was filled with sorrow. Anastasia, who had been playing with construction blocks on the carpet, lifted her head uncertainly and brushed a few curls from her cheeks with her fluffy fingers. She was only six, but even she seemed to understand what their baby brother’s cries meant.

And yet, in some ominous way, that sound gave them hope. As soon as Alexei Nikolayevich, Olga’s only brother, was able to cry, it meant that Russia still had an heir to the throne.
Sitting next to Olga on a cream couch, Grandma turned around, her lips pressed into a thin line. As an empress dowager, she had long since mastered the art of concealing her feelings, but today she too looked broken. Grandma ran her hand over the diamond necklace that hung low over her chest and clutched the gems as if they were the beads of a rosary.

“Courage, child,” she whispered and allowed Olga to snuggle closer to her. Already twelve, Olga knew she was too old to crave comfort from her parents—too old to demand attention while they dealt with the doctors. Still, it was her job to be strong for her younger sisters. They would need her in the coming weeks. But for now she let her grandmother comfort her, as if she were tiny like Anastasia, and silently crawled into her lap.

Grandma put her hand on her head and rested her fingers on her unruly braid.
“Today is a hard day, my girl,” she murmured, her voice cracking with grief. – Perhaps the hardest day we will ever face. Olga could feel her grandmother’s diamond necklace digging into the sharp edge of her shoulder blade. Today was really terribly difficult. They had spent long hours in prayer, but could never turn their thoughts from the dread with which they awaited any news of Alexei.

“Hemophilia”. Olga’s sisters did not yet know this word, but Olga understood it. She had been told never to say it out loud, never to hint to anyone, not even the relatives who were not in that room, that her brother was ill. Alexey had been born without his blood being able to clot, and any accidental accident risked causing him terrible pain and even endangering his life. Every fall, every bump into something that another child might have laughed at, resulted in agony that lasted for days. Blood pooled in places in his body where it didn’t belong: joints, muscles. It was becoming a tidal wave under his skin.

Olga wished there was something to ease her brother’s pain, but she had been told his illness was incurable, irreversible, endless. Because after all, was there no end to the blood? The amount that flowed through her three year old brother’s body was limited, the pain he could take also had limits.
– What if we lose it? Olga asked in a whisper to hide her sisters’ fears.

Grandma sighed.
“Then we will grieve,” she answered simply and pulled Olga closer into her arms.

Grief. In her short life, Olga had already seen too much grief: grief under Dad’s smile, grief in Mom’s endless prayers. She knew that her parents loved her and her sisters, but the birth of each of them was accompanied by grief – how could it not be, when Mom and Dad’s most important job was to ensure the future of the Romanov dynasty with the birth of son?

Three times Olga had heard the church bells in St. Petersburg toll and announce the birth of her sisters—grand duchess like herself. But she had never seen such joy, such relief in her parents, as on the day when the bells rang without stopping in honor of Alexei’s birth. Since then, her parents had not stopped grieving.

– But what will happen to Russia? Olga whispered.

The article is in bulgaria

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