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Once a Grand Duchess: Xenia, Sister of Nicholas II Hardcover – Illustrated, 21 Jun 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd; illustrated edition edition (21 Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750927496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750927499
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.9 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 488,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Van der Kiste read Librarianship at Ealing Technical College, where he edited the student librarian journal Stamp Out. The author of over fifty books, including historical and royal biography, popular music, true crime, local history, plays and fiction, he has also contributed articles to and reviewed books and records for local and national publications, was a consultant to the BBC documentary 'The King, the Kaiser and the Tsar', and is a contributor to 'Oxford Dictionary of National Biography' and 'Guinness Rockopaedia'. He lives in Devon. His latest titles are 'Charlotte and Feodora', a revised edition of a title previously available only on Kindle and now a paperback, and 'Jeff Lynne: The Electric Light Orchestra, Before and After'. He is currently working on a Dictionary of Royal Biographers, with further historical and musical titles planned.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Aug. 2002
Format: Hardcover
Grand Duchess Xenia was one of the 2 sisters of the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II. Her sister has merited 2 biographies so far, but Xenia seems to have been completely forgotten to history. This book rights that wrong whilst providing many a new slant on a period of history that has been extensively covered by all media. Xenia was born in 1875, 7 years after Nicholas, to the Tsarevich Alexander and his wife Marie, who would soon become rulers of the vast Russian empire. She was born into a grand life, of huge palaces, great wealth, magnificent clothes and beautiful jewels - beyond the wildest dreams of people today and certainly beyond the wildest dreams of 19th century Russian peasants. She had a happy childhood with loving parents, but there was always an undercurrent of insecurity engendered by the horrific assassination her grandfather, Tsar Alexander II, when she was 5 years old. She married a cousin, another Alexander, just a few months before Nicholas made his fateful union with Princess Alexandra of Hesse. For many years, Xenia remained close to her brother and his wife, but eventually the evil spectre of Rasputin forced them apart. This did not stop poor Xenia being devastated when Nicholas had to abdicate and was sent into exile in Siberia. Xenia herself lived through the revolution in St Petersburg and experienced all the dangers and privations herself, before escaping to her summer home in southern Russia. There she, her husband, mother, children, sister and various other relatives lived a fairly peaceful life until the Bolsheviks reached them. They were all evacuated by a British warship on the orders of George V, Xenia’s cousin, who then allowed her to settle in a grace and favour home in England for the rest of her life. Money now became a problem.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Pedro Miguel Neves Martins on 29 Jan. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Writting about a person who's personal life has little to tell wasn't a easy task for the authors. Indeed, Xenia Alexandrovna's life spices only with a small reference to a lover who's name is carefully hiden by her in her journals, with her troublesome and always wantig for more money sons and with her devoted daughter Irina, born to a grandeur destiny and who married a flamboyant- not to say excentric- figure like Felix Youssupov. In the end, the books gives us a story of a gentle, shy and family person, who led her life in a discreet way- let us remember that se was fully accepted in George V's England, but others weren't, like grand-duchess Elena Vladimirovna, despite the fact she was the duke of Kent's mother-in law!-. Do not expect to find great secrets in this book. You'll just find the life of a rich and afterwards destitued yet always modest lady of the Victorian era, who was the last tsar's sister.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "lyndsey308" on 30 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
'Once a Grand Duchess' has obviously been very well researched and contains a lot of information I didn't know before (and I study Russian history) particularly about Xenia. However, I thought the narrative was very hard to read. Anecdotes were patched together in what felt like a very haphazard manner which didn't give it much of a flowing feeling.
Secondly, there were so many characters each with a name, official title and nickname and it was very hard to keep up with who's who. For example, Princess Marie of Greece is also called Greek Minnie and Grand Duchess George. Often names are dropped in with no explanation of who they are, or their relationships to each other. I had to keep jumping around trying to find out who I was reading about which also disrupted the flow. A cast of characters at the start, like in Massie's excellent biography of Nicholas and Alexandra, would have greatly helped.
The photographs included were excellent, and so many of them. The family trees were also very extensive and useful.
All in all I would rate this book as good. The information it contains is excellent, so I'd still recommend people read it, but it could have been written more fluently.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Katrina Warne on 7 Aug. 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book about Grand Duchess Xenia with lots of interesting new facts in it. It makes a nice change to have a book about someone, who has not been written about on her own before. It covers her whole life, both in Russia before the Revolution & afterwards in exile. It will add to the knowledge of everyone who is interested in The Russian Imperial Family.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amelrode VINE VOICE on 23 Dec. 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Once a Grand Duchess" the title is taken from the Grand Duke Alexander's (Xenia' s husband) memoirs "Once a Grand Duke". For me, this title kind of boils it down what Xenia was all about: just following, passive, with no particular interest or talents. She was properly just a very nice, lovable lady, a product of her up-bringing and good mother. But that's about it. Therefore, I understand the disappointment of one reviewer who found the book dull. However, I did not find the book dull but the subject.
Nevertheless I liked the book as it fills in a gap in one' s biography collection on the last Czar' s family. While tons of books have been written on Czar Nicolas and quite a considerable amount on his brother Michael and his other sister Olga, Xenia was - at least to my knowledge - not the subject of a biography. I feel that Michael and Olga much in common, while Nicolas II and Xenia are quitesimilar. They had this extremely irritating passive approach to life. No real inititive, no fighting back and always chess pieces instead of chess players. This well written book complements as well the Memoirs of Grand Duke Alexander and sets some records straight. Well, all in all, a book to be read by all those who are interested in the fall of the Romanov dynasty. It will give you an inside into the Romanov Family in its final days. But do not expect to much of the personality you are going to read about.
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