John R. Carling.
Little, Brown: 1907.
An uncommon title by Carling, who was a writer of historical romances. A hundred years ago, there was much more emphasis on the adventure than the romance, though. This is a simply marvellous tale of Russia at the time of czar Alexander I’s rise. A dashing and gallant Englishman, Lord Wilfrid Courtenay, falls in love with a beautiful Russian noblewoman.
Various adventures and political intrigues ensue. At times, this is more a drama of manners, as it were, since so much of the plot revolves around certain people’s perceptions of other people. Nowadays, of course, such thinking seems quaint and it is felt to be an outdated plot device.
At the end, it turns out that Wilfrid’s love is in fact the Czarina, and as such, a relationship is impossible. So, he settles for his second favorite lady, who was in love with the Czar, but now prefers Wilfrid. Strange, but wistfully happy.