Summary and book reviews of The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport

The Romanov Sisters

The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

by Helen Rappaport

The Romanov Sisters
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2014, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2015, 544 pages

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Book Summary

They were the Princess Dianas of their day - perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The Romanov Sisters captures the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives.

They 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 Rappaport aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections.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.

Excerpt
The Romanov Sisters

Although it was mid-March Maria was still very sick and Anastasia had developed such acute earache that her eardrums had had to be pierced to relieve the pressure in them. And then on the 15th Anastasia developed a secondary infection – pleurisy – on a day when Maria's temperature hit almost 105 degrees F. Both children were prostrated by fits of terrible coughing. In a letter to Rita Khitrovo, Tatiana wrote that Anastasia wasn't able to eat either, 'because it all comes back again'. Both her sisters, she said, were 'very patient and lie quietly. Anastasia is still deaf and you have to shout so that she can hear what you're saying to her.' Her own hearing was much better, although she was still having problems with her right ear. She couldn't say much more: 'Remember that they are reading your and my letters.'

By the 18th Maria was so ill that Alexandra sent Anna Vyrubova an anxious note, ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Helen Rappaport's book is supported by meticulous research and numerous source documents; she recreates the historical period beautifully...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...This is history that reads like an engrossing novel, and once you have made the acquaintance of the four Romonov sisters, you were never, ever forget them.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

A gossipy, revealing story of the doomed Russian family's fairy tale life told by an expert in the field.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Readers will be swept up in the author's leisurely yet informative narrative as she sheds new light on the lives of the four daughters.

Reader Reviews

Martha S. (Mentor, OH)

The Romanov Sisters
What a story! Most know this royal family was murdered in Russia in 1918. Helen Rapport's book on the Romanov family intertwines Russian history and the royal family. Yes, the children were brought up in luxurious surroundings but lived simple lives....   Read More

Dona N. (San Rafael, CA)

Intimate and Haunting: The Romanov Mystique
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 ...   Read More

Rita H. (Centennial, CO)

The Romanov Sisters: Fascinating
I found the Romanov Sisters to be a fascinating, engaging and extremely well- researched (61 pages of footnotes) account of the lives of the four daughters of Tzar Nicolas and Tsaritsa Alexandra. The book begins with the marriage of Nicolas and ...   Read More

Judi S. (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Lost Daughters of the Last Tsar
One upon a time there were 4 princesses: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia But there any resemblance to a traditional fairy tale ends. For these were the daughters of the last Tsar and Tsaritsa of Russia, and the circumstances of their young and ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Winter Palace

Winter PalaceFrom 1711 until 1917, the Winter Palace was the home to Russian Tsars, Tsarinas and their families. The need for fortified residences was lessening in the 18th century, and the palaces reflected this shift. Three distinct Winter Palaces were built, torn down and rebuilt until 1754 when the fourth and final palace was created for Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, who was the daughter of Peter the Great. Baroque in style, it sits grandly, on the bank of the Neva River in St. Petersburg. It is a majestic three-story building with a whopping 1786 doors, 1945 windows, 1057 halls and rooms, and 117 staircases. The enormity of the palace clearly symbolized the power of Imperial Russia.

First Winter PalaceThis last Winter Palace was built between 1754 and 1762. ...

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