Author Topic: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman  (Read 19525 times)

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Offline grandduchessella

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Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« on: June 25, 2008, 06:51:15 PM »
I saw this on the European Royals board:

It's called "The German Woman" and is a fictionalised autobiograpy of the Empress Alexandra of Russia.
It's already received high praise from Greg King and Joe Fuhrmann, to name a few 

http://belgarun.com/

http://www.bgushop.com/belgarun


Has anyone else heard of it?
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Offline halen

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2008, 09:51:18 PM »
I haven't heard of it, but I will buy it. I  know it will be great.

Janet, fantastic reviews and congratulations.

Louise
There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

When he shall die
Take him and cut him out into stars
And he shall make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2008, 12:47:42 AM »
It sounds very interesting! I will try to read it. Thank you for notifying us, grandduchessella!

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2008, 01:14:12 AM »
I normally avoid fiction about the Romanovs, although a lot of what is written about them is just that, but if Greg King endorses it- I'll buy iy it
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Offline Ilana

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2008, 11:08:11 AM »
Agreed, Janet is a scrupulous researcher and a wonderful writer.  I'm looking forward to getting into this one!!!!!
So long and thanks for all the fish

Offline Ortino

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2008, 02:50:33 PM »
Ooh, congratulations Janet! :D I look forward to reading it! Is it going to be available on Amazon or just through Belgarun?

Offline allanraymond

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2008, 03:43:27 PM »
It is available from Amazon plus other outlets. A search for "The German Woman janet ashton" will show up the outlets.

Allan Raymond

Ooh, congratulations Janet! :D I look forward to reading it! Is it going to be available on Amazon or just through Belgarun?

Offline Ortino

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2008, 09:40:00 PM »
It is available from Amazon plus other outlets. A search for "The German Woman janet ashton" will show up the outlets.

Allan Raymond

Ooh, congratulations Janet! :D I look forward to reading it! Is it going to be available on Amazon or just through Belgarun?

Ah, you are right. I had only checked Amazon.com when I posted. I see now that it's available on Amazon.co.uk.  :-[

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2008, 09:10:57 AM »
Dear all
     I am very pleased to see the level of interest in the book here.  :) It is actually being distributed internationally through a variety of people, from Amazon to WHSmiths - I think the deal is that they order copies from the publisher when they receive an order themselves, so it doesn't matter that the book has a UK place of publication.
That said, the Belgarun shop ships the same or next day, so you will save time by going straight to them, cutting out the middle man.  Plus, you get a discount. :)

Anyway, I wanted to post some information about the book.

It's fiction and it's not fiction. There aren't any made up people or events in it, and you won't find Alexandra rolling around the Park in the embrace of General Orlov, or a rebellious Olga conspiring with Duma members to get herself onto the throne. The intention was to tell Alexandra's story as it actually happened, but I chose to do it in fictional form because when I wrote it - back in 2001-2 - that was the most natural medium for me. I wanted to evoke sympathy for and understanding of Alexandra through the feelings and experiences of her life, from the wonder of seeing the huge Petersburg sky for the first time to the undoubtedly physical grief of being Alexei's mother, to the brief war-time interlude when I think the whole family felt a sense of purpose and she saw herself and her daughters as "working women" enduring the same sorrow and same sometimes very simple pleasures as any other family whose men were away at war. Being Alexandra as I wrote seemed the best way to do this.

I have written on Directarticle that the book aims to tell Alexandra's political story. This is true, but I don't mean to convey that it is a dry and political book. People can read the parts about politics without caring deeply who each politician is: what I hope they will get from these sections is the mounting sense of chaos and despair as minister succeeds minister and no-one knows what best to do to keep the government on its feet. I hope that in reading these parts people will gain a greater sympathy for some of Alexandra's more apparently hysterical moments (the moments of "Russia loves to feel the whip!" and "they will make all leave and then ourselves") and will even possibly share her feelings for a moment. My essential point is that I wanted readers to emerge with a slightly different view of Alexandra, to hear her side of the Rasputin story, for example, and to understand how her thinking developed in general. Most biographies of Alexandra emphasise her relationship with Queen Victoria, her conflicts with the Dowager Empress. Among her own siblings it is inevitably Ella who gets the most attention. I wanted to remind readers that she also had a father, whose family traditions may have influenced her in ways often overlooked. I have paid more attention than other purely Romanov books do to her relationship with her eldest sister Victoria and her brother Ernie, and THEIR likely influences on her. I also wanted to bring out the relationships with KR's family and with Xenia's, especially in the relaxed early days in Russia when her eldest children were small, and to perhaps emphasise some of the things that were happening in other, less exalted women's lives when Alix was a young girl which she will have witnessed and which were part of her experience before she went to Russia.

And of course, inevitably, Nicholas and the children get a lot of attention, and you have my take on her individual relationships with them.

The research I did for this book in 2001 and 2 also became non-fiction articles that I wrote later after shelving the novel. I went back to it because the publisher came to me, so to speak, and have rewritten some parts and checked again for accuracy.

I have left in a couple of disputed points, simply because this IS fiction, though I know some readers may object. Firstly, I HAVE used the story of Alexandra caricaturing the Dowager Empress in the early days of her marriage, though the source is the Mouchanow book. I left it in because I felt it showed a side of Alix which is also apparent in some of her letters to Nicholas: the mocking, irreverant side. It may not have happened, but it could have done!
And then I have portrayed Alix quietly going to Darmstadt University as a young girl, to listen to lectures unseen. This is something that was alleged in press reports in 1894, and it is unclear whether she really did go. Because this is a novel, I have allowed her the pleasure of doing so.  :D
« Last Edit: June 28, 2008, 09:17:21 AM by Janet Ashton »
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many; they are few.

Lalee

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2008, 09:22:08 AM »
Dear Janet,

Thank you very, very much for taking the time to post here and shedding some more light on your new book! I think it sounds highly interesting and sympathetic and I am thinking of using it as an inspiration for a project of my own. That is, until I have brought it, which I am hoping to do in a few days!

Offline Michael HR

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2008, 04:08:39 PM »
Right I am off to Amazon.co.uk right now!

:)
« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 08:20:51 AM by Alixz »
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Offline Michael HR

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2008, 04:13:22 PM »
And will be here Tuesday

Horaah!

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Offline Sarai

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2008, 07:26:44 PM »
Janet, I am generally not a fan of fiction, but having read about what a great writer and researcher you are and your own description of the book, I have already ordered a copy! I am especially interested in how you portray Alix's early days in Germany and the influence of her father and siblings. Too much has already been written about Alexandra as Empress of Russia, so I am always on the lookout for anything that portrays her as Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt before her marriage or even the relationship between the children of Princess Alice.

Offline Ilana

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2008, 11:56:06 AM »
Have the book, have started reading, she's a little hard on my girl (VMH), but then, I'm little hard on Alix in my non-fiction, so it's okay.  Janet is a wonderful writer, and I don't say this because I know her (I'm the type that would just keep my mouth shut!!).  So, enjoy!
So long and thanks for all the fish

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Janet Ashton's book The German Woman
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2008, 03:08:18 PM »
Have the book, have started reading, she's a little hard on my girl (VMH), but then, I'm little hard on Alix in my non-fiction, so it's okay.  Janet is a wonderful writer, and I don't say this because I know her (I'm the type that would just keep my mouth shut!!).  So, enjoy!

Pay you later for the compliments to my writing..... ;D

As far as Victoria MH goes, she is in the unenviable position at the start of the book of having to extract discipline from Alix (who according to their grandmother evaded lessons and the like and was generally a normal lazy child) and even more so from the capricious Ernie, who A perceives as the most ideal being, and who of course keeps telling her about the perfect life they had when their mother was alive. I don't doubt he repeated to her - as he did in his memoir - that he was Mama's favourite and their big sisters were jealous of him.
After 1878, instead of perfect Mama, they have this rather bossy big sister to look after them, who doesn't mince words and doesn't enjoy overt displays of emotion, so I wanted to put across that there would be some issues there.

As the book goes on and she grows up, Alix does of course come to see V. for what she is, and recognises that for all her "brusque" manner, Victoria has "a heart of gold" and has spent her life looking after them all. I wanted to bring out that V's questioning intellect and common sense are a very good influence on Alix, for example over the issue of Ella's conversion. Their father and Irene are horrified, and thus the newly-confirmed Alix is inclined to be too, but amidst all of this Victoria is the person who stands up for Ella, says it is up to her own conscience if she feels she can convert, and so offers Alix a first glimmer of possibility too. I see similarities between V and A, for example in their being shy and ill at ease in large gatherings, and I have the sense that this and distance was what made their relationship easier as adults than Alix's ultimately would be with Ella. Not to give too much away, but there is a scene later on where V tries to advise A on Rasputin, and they end up laughing over how stubborn both of them are, and what a shame it is that Nicky cannot tell Alix to shut up the way Louis sometimes does with Victoria when she is carrying on! Whereas the talks with Ella on a similar topic end of course in furious rows.....

In spite of occasional arguments and tensions, what should come across is that Victoria is mainly the beloved big sister who they all look up to.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2008, 03:14:53 PM by Janet Ashton »
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many; they are few.