WeWriWa—Lunch is served

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’ve been sharing from my alternative history, And Aleksey Lived, which is scheduled to be released in exactly a month, if all goes according to plan.

This week’s snippet comes a few lines after last week’s, when soon-to-be Empress Arkadiya met her future sister-in-law Tatyana’s children. Ten-year-old Pavel excitedly told her he’s heir to the throne till his uncle has a son, and 8-year-old Varvara said they used to have two other brothers.

Tatyana suggested they talk about more pleasant things, and calls for lunch.

Nicholas II’s coronation banquet menu

Tatyana picked up a silver bell and rang for the waiters.

The luncheon which was brought forward was just as refined and elegant as Tatyana herself—roast beef tenderloin with foie gras butter, oysters in cream and bacon sauce, candied carrots on a bed of greens, mushroom bisque, baked lobster tails in saffron risotto, and karavay bread with intricate curlicues baked on top, with an assortment of carrot, fig, blackberry, and currant jams. 

The tableware was equally elegant.  Besides the usual sparkling crystal and silverware, the plates, bowls, and platters were white china with a delicate pink rosebud pattern.  Arkadiya still wasn’t sure if she were eating everything with the correct fork and spoon, and hoped none of the china and crystal would break.  Her family had only used such fancy tableware on Easter and Christmas.  The rest of the year, it was shut away in a locked cabinet.

To Arkadiya’s great relief, Tatyana mostly spoke about her work as a nurse, instead of the wedding.  Pavel and Varvara also spoke about their lessons in arithmetic, science, art, music, reading, and French.  They pointed out several photographs of themselves with their tutors, on a table of framed candid photographs documenting the family’s normal, everyday life.

WeWriWa—Tatyana and her children

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when soon-to-be-Empress Arkadiya arrived at Yelagin Palace, on St. Petersburg’s Yelagin Island, to discuss the style of her wedding dress with her future sister-in-law Tatyana. Arkadiya has just entered the dining hall.

Tatyana was known as a clotheshorse, someone on whom all clothes looked good. She loved fashion, and was quite good at making her own clothes, and clothes for other people. In her lifetime, she was the most famous and popular of the Tsar’s daughters, both for her nursing work and her exotic, regal beauty. Those who saw her in person said she had the natural look of a princess, someone whom still photographs can’t do justice to.

Tatyana was dressed just as regally and elegantly as she’d been at the measurement session, in a floor-length silk evergreen dress, with elbow-length sleeves, a somewhat defined silhouette, beading, and ruffles.  Her fashionably short hair was framed by an intricately beaded white satin bandeau, which Arkadiya suspected used diamonds.  In comparison to the plethora of jewelry Arkadiya expected all Imperial women to wear, her only jewelry were a simple string of delicate pink pearls, French hook onyx earrings, and her wedding and engagement rings.  The two little girls were dressed in indigo sailor dresses, and the boy wore a matching sailor suit.

“Welcome to our humble home,” Tatyana greeted her effusively. “These are my surviving children.  Pavel recently turned ten, Varvara’s eight, and Galina’s two and a half.”

“I’ll be nine in January,” Varvara said. “I’m eight and three-quarters, not just turned eight.  Galya’s also two and three-quarters, not two and a half.”

WeWriWa—Inside Yelagin Palace

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s, when soon-to-be Empress Arkadiya arrived at Yelagin Palace, on St. Petersburg’s Yelagin Island, to visit her future sister-in-law Tatyana to discuss the wedding dress.

The servants have had to gently explain to Arkadiya that it’s not a good idea to call Tatyana by her title and style, in spite of what protocol dictates. First name and patronymic will do just fine, since Tatyana and her siblings want to be treated like normal people.

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“Tatyana Nikolayevna is waiting in the dining hall with her children,” the oldest servant said. “I imagine she’ll take you to the Poppy Red Salon afterwards.  She usually entertains guests there.”

A majordomo led Arkadiya to the dining hall, which was outfitted with light walnut wood contrasting with white marble pilasters.  A row of windows on three sides of the room brought in beautiful, bright sunlight which bathed the room in illumination.  The bronze, gilt, silver, and gold carvings, statues, and busts arranged throughout the room sparkled in particular.  Facing the windows were mirrors giving reflections of the palace gardens, which weren’t completely hibernated yet.  It gave the impression of the lush greenery and bright flowers being right there in the dining hall.

WeWriWa—Arrival at Yelagin Palace

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week, I’m returning to my alternative history, which, if all goes according to plan, should be released on 17 July, my primary protagonist’s real-life 100th death anniversary.

And Aleksey Lived is set from 1918–45 (with a brief Epilogue some decades later), and tells the story of a restored Russian monarchy. One of the many unusual things about the new Tsar is his choice of a bride, a morganatic princess instead of an equally-ranked princess from a ruling house. Radical revisions to the draconian House Laws have made this engagement possible. Arkadiya is also seven years his senior instead of a few years younger.

It’s now late autumn 1929, and Arkadiya, the soon-to-be Empress, has been invited to visit her future sister-in-law Tatyana at Yelagin Palace, on St. Petersburg’s Yelagin Island, to discuss the wedding gown.

Copyrigh Nmgphoto, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Forty minutes later, the Duesenberg drove through the gates of the looming white edifice.  Arkadiya took a few moments to take all this in, before slowly ascending the massive white marble staircase leading to the main entry.  Identical urns were on either side of it, depicting Tritons and Nereids.  Since winter was approaching, there were no plants or flowers in them.  The air was rich with the scent of oranges from the trees in a nearby greenhouse.

The main vestibule was richly adorned with artwork on the ceiling and cornice, along with four stern statues of maidens holding bronze candelabras.  All the simple furniture was dark mahogany.  Several servants in red livery stepped forward to greet her.

WeWriWa—Agreeable Conditions

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week may be the final snippet from my alternative history for awhile.

In the last snippet, Arkadiya discovered just how much her newlywed husband loves her, and received an invitation to exchange her room for the Imperial bedroom, on two conditions. Though she finds this turn of events very agreeable, she’s still in a state of disbelief. As a 32-year-old spinster, she didn’t think any man would ever love her, let alone the most powerful man in the empire.

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The Great Throne Room of the Winter Palace, where the newlywed Imperial couple were greeted by their parents after the ceremony and given the traditional karavay wedding loaf on a silver platter with salt

“What conditions are these?” She rubbed his shoulders and kissed his neck.

“First, as you’re well aware of, I need to trust you won’t be rough with me.  I’m not as sickly as I was as a little boy, but I’m still not as strong and hearty as normal people.  Secondly, I want you to stop calling me Majesty.  I told you to call me Alyosha.”

She smiled at him. “Sure, I can agree to those conditions, though it’ll take awhile for me to get used to calling you Alyosha instead of Your Majesty.”

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Aleksey with his double-second-cousins Princess Ileana and Prince Nicolae of Romania, 1914. Many people speculate Aleksey and Ileana would’ve married in real life, though of the equally-ranked potential consorts, I slightly prefer Princess Ingrid of Sweden (later Queen of Denmark). The first what-if match is too popular/overused for my tastes, whereas the intelligent, compassionate, courageous Ingrid’s name doesn’t seem to be mentioned so often.