Monday, 2 June 2014

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra


Author: Helen Rappaport
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Kindle e-book ARC
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: St Martin's Press
First Published: June 3, 2014
First Line: "The day they sent the Romanovs away the Alexander Palace became a forlorn and forgotten place - a palace of ghosts."

Book Description from GoodReadsThey were the Princess Dianas of their day—perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses—Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov—were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle.

Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. With this treasure trove of diaries and letters from the grand duchesses to their friends and family, we learn that they were intelligent, sensitive and perceptive witnesses to the dark turmoil within their immediate family and the ominous approach of the Russian Revolution, the nightmare that would sweep their world away, and them along with it.

The Romanov Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia, World War I and the Russian Revolution. Rappaport aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections. It is a book that will surprise people, even aficionados


Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  Ever since reading The Romanov Cross by Robert Masello in late 2012 I've found myself intrigued about the Romanov family. I knew very little about the Russian royals until that point but the mystery surrounding their deaths was quite captivating.

So I went into this book eager to learn more about this mysterious family. I wanted to gain insight into the four daughters who were famous beyond belief and into an era that I knew little about.  Unfortunately I left this book feeling that I hadn't really learned more about the girls. 

From the title I was assuming that the book would focus on the four sisters.  But instead it seemed that a lot of time was focused on Alexandra, the girls' mother.  I realize that some history about Alexandra was needed (and quite interesting actually) but when the book is titled The Romanov Sisters I was assuming the bulk of the book would be about Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia.

If I'm being honest, this book came off very dry for me because I went into this book hoping to get a deeper, personal look into the very secluded lives of the four Romanov sisters.  Unfortunately the book felt like more of a textbook with little to no emotional development of the characters.  It's this disconnection with the characters that ultimately hurt my enjoyment of the book.

The use of diary entries and personal letters added some authenticity to the story.  You can tell that Ms Rappaport is very knowledgeable and passionate about the Romanovs. I appreciate the amount of research that went into this book and I wanted to love this book but ultimately I really struggled to get through it. 

People who are more knowledgeable about the Romanovs may enjoy this book more but for a Romanov novice like myself I needed more connection to the characters to keep me invested in the story.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars 

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