The Romanov Sisters was a very timely book to read as the Crimean crisis is unfolding daily on the news. I was gratified to receive the book from NetGalley for a review and put others books aside in the interest of understanding more about events occurring now. That is why I read books, for understanding of things I have not personally experienced.
Helen Rappaport is an incredibly comprehensive historian, at least of Russian history. There was a great deal that I did not know or understand about the Russian Revolution and was quite glad of the footnotes and author notes.
My heart is heavy today, as I knew it would be, about this family's demise and the terrible circumstances of their ending. I have read other books about their last days but this seemed different, given we knew a great deal about them from their diaries and writings of others.That so many of those others did not survive makes the tale even more stark.
There were a few things I looked up for clarification, although quite possibly they were somewhere in the text. Who White Russians were exactly and why they also would be fleeing to exiting the country through Siberia was puzzling, as well as who and why Vasily Yakovlev was delegated to send them to Ekaterinburg from Tobolsk. I need to learn more it seems.
I was pleased with the Author's Note in the preface which indicated the "rigorous scientific analysis and DNA testing".As an avid Genetic Genealogy researcher, that part was necessary for me to enjoy the book. This day and age makes that a necessity for real history.
This book introduced me to the "real" Romanovs, to the Grand Duchesses as babies and children, what their place was in society, and what they might have achieved if their parents had been more skillful in their roles in life. The Russian Revolution was a tragedy but I feel these girls were unnecessary victims through their whole lives of inadequate parenting by parents ill equipped for any of their roles.
I heartily recommend this book to royalists, history lovers and those who seek to know more about the world stage. My own intention is for further reading about this era which illustrates some things about present day Russia. I have a grandparent who seems to have had some Yakut roots being from a Norwegian town on the Russian border where many Saami still live and this author has illustrated her knowledge of the culture.
Born in Bromley, England, Helen Rappaport studied Russian at Leeds University but
She started out contributing to biographical and historical reference works for publishers such as Cassell, Reader’s Digest, and Oxford University Press. Between 1999 and 2003 she wrote three books back-to-back for a leading US reference publisher: Joseph Stalin: A Biographical Companion, the award-winning An Encyclopedia of Women Social Reformers and Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Her first trade title was No Place for Ladies: The Untold Story of Women in the Crimean War ( Aurum press, 2007 ). She followed this with Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs (Hutchinson 2008), which became a best seller in the USA, published by St.Martin’s Press as The Last days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at
A passionate Victorianist and Russianist, Helen is a member of Equity, the Victorian Society, the Society of Genealogists , the Society of Authors, The Biographers’ Club, and Writers in Oxford.