Please give a warm welcome to historical fiction author, Dora Levy Mossanen, who is joining us with her recent release of The Last Romanov. I've always been intrigued by this moment in history and must admit that 'Anastasia' is still one of my favorite movies. ;) I hope you enjoy the post that Dora has for us today and make sure to enter the giveaway at the end to score your own copy of this title!
I’ve experienced my own fair share of wars and revolutions. I lived through Israel’s War of Independence, when food was rationed and bombs, sirens and blackouts were part of daily life. My family decided to move to Iran. A week later, Mossadeg’s 1953 Coup d’état turned Tehran’s streets into an inferno. The shah and his then wife, Soraya, fled to Italy. Bronze and marble statues of the Shah, in proud stances, on horseback, donning military uniforms and saluting his people, were tied with ropes, uprooted from their foundation, and urinated on in public. And then, with the help of the CIA, the Shah returned to Iran, divorced Soraya, wed Farah Diba and presented his people with a much-anticipated heir to the throne. In 1967 the Shah decided it was time to crown himself and his wife. Ah! The unbelievable pomp, the excess, the handsome horses drawing jewel-encrusted carriages, the scintillating gem-studded crowns and gold-encrusted gowns! The seeming invincibility of the Shahanshah Kind of Kings as he delivered a speech on the occasion of 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire: “Rest in peace Cyrus for we are awake and will always stay awake.” Twelve years later, Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled the Pahlavi Dynasty. Once again, I was forced to leave a country that had become home. I settled in America. Went back to school and became a writer, one whose fabric is woven with the colorful threads of the different cultures she experienced. So, it’s not surprising that I was attracted to a time period in Russian history that saw its own share of pomp and glory alongside untold poverty and despair, which was followed by wars and revolutions and political upheavals that ended in the fall of the three-hundred-year-old Romanov Dynasty. How on earth, I wanted to know, did Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra and their five children end up in the cellar of “The House of Special Purpose”? How could the powerful Romanov Dynasty with its pomp and splendor and unimaginable pageantry prove so fragile? How could both Nicholas II and Mohammad Reza Shah be so isolated from the reality of their people, be in such deep denial that they failed to predict what was coming? These were the questions I set out to answer in The Last Romanov.
But I am also a novelist, a creator of characters; tend to add my own flavor to history. So I planted the opal-eyed Darya Borisovna in the Russian court. She is tenacious and loyal to a fault. She possesses healing powers and performs miracles. Avram, her lover, is a Jewish painter who becomes a spokesman for the persecuted Jewish communities. And I introduced Jasmine the Persian Dancer to court, a fearless woman after my own heart, whose dark secret threatens to shake the foundation of the Romanov orthodoxy.
For almost a century, Imperial Russia has captivated the imagination- the ruthless execution of the royal family, the disputed survival of the heir: it's a cinematic chaos that the masterful Dora Levy Mossanen unravels for her readers. Taking readers deep into tarnished grandeur, The Last Romanov follows Darya, a wise old beauty whose time spent with the Imperial family has haunted her entire life. When the murderous events unfold, Darya is plagued by the prophecy made by the Empress's advisor, Rasputin. She must find the missing Tsarevich Alexis Romanov and restore the monarchy or risk losing her own life.
Dora Levy Mossanen was born in Israel as the country was gaining its independence and moved to Iran with her family when she was nine years old. After living in Israel, where female soldiers wore shorts and carried Uzis, she had a difficult time adjusting to Iranian culture, which required women to conceal themselves under chadors. The first days of her arrival coincided with the 1953 coup of Dr. Mossadegh when the Shah fled to Italy. Streets brimmed with demonstrators, supporting Dr. Mossadegh and dragging down statues of Mohammad Reza Shah. And the very next day, portraits of the Shah were displayed again and blaring microphones announced his return. These were her first experiences in a country of contradictions, a culture rich in legend, mythology, folklore, and superstition.
Her family’s roots go back 2,500 years in Persia, where her first inspiration and invaluable source of history was her grandfather, Doctor Habib Levy, a renowned historian. Dr. Levy introduced Dora to life in Mahaleh, the Jewish ghetto, to the horrors of anti-Semitism, and to the challenges of being Jewish in a Moslem country. The Islamic Revolution of 1979, the fall of the Shah, and arrival of the Ayatollah Khomeini forced Mossanen and her family to leave Iran. They settled in Los Angeles, California and became part of what is now the largest Iranian community in the United States.
Despite being married, raising two daughters, and facing great opposition, Ms. Mossanen went back to school, causing another mini revolution—this one in her own home. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of California Los Angeles and a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Southern California.
Dora is the bestselling author of the widely acclaimed novels Harem and Courtesan, which have been translated into numerous languages, and is the recipient of the prestigious San Diego Editor’s Choice Award. She blogs for Huffington Post, reviews fiction for the Jewish Journal, and has been featured in various publications.
Sourcebooks is giving away one copy of The Last Romanov to one US or Canadian reader. To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling us what your favorite moment in history is and then fill out the RaffleCopter below. Additional entries are available but not required. Good luck!
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