BookBrowse readers are very excited about The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport. 14 out of 14 reviews gave it a 4 or a 5. Why is this compelling account of Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia tugging at readers' heartstrings?
Once upon a time there were four princesses: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. But from there, any resemblance to a traditional fairy tale ends. The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport brings them vividly to life and tells the largely unknown story of these young women, who were the Princess Dianas and Kate Middletons of their day, played out against the backdrop of Nicolas' and Alexandra's obsession with a male heir, their mother's religious mania, their baby brother's hemophilia, Rasputin, and oh, yes, the Russian Revolution (Judi S). Helen Rappaport has done an outstanding job of documenting the lives of Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov (OTMA). Often seen as a unit (hence the OTMA), the sisters come across with very distinct personalities in this book. Olga was the most sensitive, Tatiana was the natural leader, Maria had the best nature and Anastasia was the most rambunctious (Kathleen S). I thoroughly enjoyed this intriguing read about the brief but fascinating lives of OTMA. It was especially gratifying to learn about their kindness, compassion and work ethic as the war plunged their country into darkness and despair. Each step of their journey provided paralyzing change, yet these young victims learned to function in adverse and demoralizing conditions. Their heartbreaking story is an engrossing read (Ruth H).
Readers found that Helen Rappaport's thorough research, combined with great story-telling, made The Romanov Sisters a compelling read:
I found The Romanov Sisters to be a fascinating, engaging and extremely well- researched account (61 pages of footnotes) of the lives of the four daughters of Tzar Nicolas and Tsaritsa Alexandra (Rita H). Having been fascinated by the Romanov family for a very long time I have read many books about them and this period of Russian history. I was very interested to read The Romanov Sisters and gain further insight into Olga, Tatiana, Marie, and Anastasia. Helen Rappaport's book is supported by meticulous research and numerous source documents; she recreates the historical period beautifully (Dona N). The book excels in informing the reader of the world events which led to this family's death and the all too momentous events which followed the end of the Romanov's and Russia's history (Shirley P). This is history that reads like an engrossing novel, and once you have made the acquaintance of the four Romonov sisters, you will never, ever forget them (Judi S). The Romanov Sisters was an outstanding narrative history of Imperial Russia and the Revolution. Rapport's book flowed like a novel (Eileen F).
They also found themselves very emotionally invested in the sisters and their story:
What I, personally, could not escape from the beginning, was an awful emotional sorrow, as I knew what would happen to these children before they could reach adulthood (Rita H). I loved this book as I love a lot of books about this era. It brought these girls to life so much. I cannot even imagine being ages 13 to 22 (the ages of all the children) and facing the final minutes of their life as they did (Pamela F). Four years ago I visited the palace in Lavadia in the Crimean area of Ukraine. As I walked through the rooms and saw so many things belonging to the children of Nicholas and Alexandra, I was saddened to think how their lives were cut short. Having read their story by Helen Rappaport, I now know why I felt so sad. This is not a history book telling of all the mistakes made by Tsars, generals, and politicians, but a moving record of real people caught up in awful political upheaval (Lesley F).
Readers had ideas about who else might enjoy this book:
This book is suitable for book clubs, readers of world or Russian history, or the events of WWI (Kathleen S). This well researched book should be read by devotees of Russian history and those visiting St. Petersburg, especially the Winter Palace (Patricia S).
This review was originally published in June 2014, and has been updated for the June 2015 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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