Synopses & Reviews
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. Helen Rappaport aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections.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.
"The lives of the four daughters -- Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia -- of Nicholas and Alexandra, Tzar and Tzarina of Imperial Russia, have been both sentimentalized and overlooked in the years since the Russian Revolution. Nonetheless, the politics of the court were such that they affected all members of the royal family, particularly through WWI and the Russian Revolution, which claimed the lives of the Romanovs. Rappaport (Magnificent Obsession), a specialist on Russian and 19th-century women's history, works chronologically -- a necessary step in understanding court intricacies and the major players involved -- beginning with Alice, Princess of Hesse and daughter of Queen Victoria of England, whose own daughter, Alix, was to become the Empress of Russia. Rappaport details the difficulties leading up to the marriage of Alexandra to then tsarevich Nicholas, the birth of their children, and how the Romanov sisters blossomed into charming, capable, and affectionate young ladies. The public spoke of the sisters in a gentile, superficial manner, but Rappaport captures sections of letters and diary entries to showcase the sisters' thoughtfulness and intelligence. 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Rappaport paints a compelling portrait of Tatiana, Olga, Maria and Anastasia" — People
"A gossipy, revealing story of the doomed Russian familys fairy tale life told by an expert in the field." —Kirkus Reviews
"In their time, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia were depicted in international accounts as a cute, indistinguishable quartet. But Rappaport brings out each ones character and does it neatly, with a fine touch. . . . While we know that the familys fate will be tragic, the girls dont, and Rappaport, with a light hand and admiring eyes, allows the four Grand Duchesses to grow on us as they grow up." —Christian Science Monitor
"Rappaport is good at showing life within the castle gates… [she] makes a genuinely new, interesting contribution to the Romanov story, which is likely to appeal to both general and specialist readers."—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"In this new volume Helen Rappaport mines a trove of fresh material as she uncovers the lost lives of the daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra."—Buffalo News
"The public spoke of the sisters in a gentile, superficial manner, but Rappaport captures sections of letters and diary entries to showcase the sisters thoughtfulness and intelligence. Readers will be swept up in the authors leisurely yet informative narrative as she sheds new light on the lives of the four daughters." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The haunting cover photograph of the Romanov sisters will draw readers, and the extensive bibliography will aid those who want to learn more." —Booklist
“As shocking and immediate as a thriller... [A] gripping read.”—People magazine (3 ½ stars) on The Last Days of the Romanovs
“Rappaport offers an absorbing, perceptive, and detailed picture of a constitutional monarchy in crisis.” —Publishers Weekly on A Magnificent Obsession
“An absorbing account of the making of a queen through her awful, protracted grief.”—Kirkus Reviews on A Magnificent Obsession
“Quite simply, stunning. . . . Chilling and poignant, this is how history books should be written.” —Alison Weir, author of Henry VIII: The King and His Court on The Last Days of the Romanovs
“A fluid and astute writer, Rappaport delivers a historically discerning portrait of Victoria in the 1860s.” —Booklist on A Magnificent Obsession
About the Author
Helene Rappaport studied Russian at Leeds University and is a specialist in Russian and nineteenth-century women's history. She lives in Oxford.