"Telynor" wrote:But then, Maria had the time to settle into her role first as the wife of the Tsarevich, and then as Empress -- and yes, while she was much more outgoing than Alexandra was, Alexandra wasn't quite so awful as most historians portray her. Maria regarded Nicholas as -hers- and after her son was married, they were living with her for six months before their own palaces were refurbished. It must have been awful for Alexandra to be spending her early marriage under the same roof as her mother-in-law. Too, Maria had excellent health, and Alexandra didn't -- knowing what havoc sciatica can raise, I can speak of what that must have been like, not to mention that she may have had variegate porphyria, and possibly heart problems, not to mention being pregnant nearly constantly during the first ten years of her marriage. Finally, I don't think Alix regarded herself as German, but rather English in her outlook. Not that she was a saint, far from it, but once someone had her friendship and devotion, it stuck.
There's a recent and very good biography about Marie Feodorovna called "Little Mother of Russia" by Coryne Hall.
All of what you say is certainly true. Alix did not have what we would call a bubbly personality at all. Her reticence was viewed as aloofness. Alix did spend a lot of time with her grandmother in England and although she may have considered herself English, she was viewed as German. Her grandmother Queen Victoria was against Alix and her sister Ella marrying into the Romanov family. Apparently Victoria was right as both Alix and Ella were killed by the Bolsheviks. Any royal bride coming into Russia had a very difficult adjustment, The culture, the court, the country, the religion were so different. Even Catherine the Great had the same adjustments coming to marriage as Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst which was in Germany.
Nicholas also did not help Alix's situation. He was not cut out to be tsar, nor was his preparation what it should have been. His father was expected to reign for a much longer time as he died at age 49. When his father died, Nicholas asked a cousin what would turn out to be a rather prophetic question, "What will happen to me and all of Russia?" His marriage, which was supposed to take place six months later, instead took place only a few weeks after Alexander III's death. Presumably, Alix would have had some preparations and orientations during that six month period and perhaps would have been better prepared and viewed differently.
I do think Alix made some very bad errors and gave Nicholas some awful advice during World War I, especially when Nicholas was away at army headquarters. She was making decisions and giving advice that she simply was not qualified to give and Nicholas was weak enough to take her advice. I admire her devotion to her husband and children and wish that she and her family could have lived a quieter life, out of the limelight.
And I wholeheartedly agree that "Little Mother of Russia" by Coryne Hall is an excellent biography of Maria Feodorovna.