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The Last Grand Duchess: Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna [Hardcover]

5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007E0JK0
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating memoir of the last Tsar's sister 4 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Far from the numerous memoirs of childhoods spent in Imperial Russia, Olga was 36 years old in 1918 and so is able to give a mature and considered account of the characters and events leading up to the Revolution. As the closest surviving relative of the Tsar she gives the most authoratative account of the Romanovs en famille and it is a suprise that it has taken so long for this book to be re-published. It is essential reading not only for its historical importance but also for the delicious detail of a life long disappeared. Everything from the breakfast menu to the gossip of the Court balls is included in a human interest rather than a documentary fashion.
This book is a remarkable memoir of a lady whose life paradoxically reached fulfillment only when all else had been stripped away. One must allow it a few pinches of salt - the words of an old and infirm lady eager to put the record straight are unlikely to be 100% accurate but they do convey the essence of the people and events they describe from a unique perspective. Olga's dignity informs every page and you will be moved by this book, as she says 'If I started crying I wouldn't stop - so instead I laugh'. Her optimism is uplifting and you will miss her after you have turned the final page.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare First Person Account 26 Oct 2001
By John D. Cofield - Published on Amazon.com
I'm very glad to see The Last Grand Duchess in print once again. (It was originally published in the mid 1960s). This is the memoir/biography of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, youngest daughter of Tsar Alexander III and sister of Tsar Nicholas II. She lived through and witnessed a tumultuous era in Russian and world history, having been born in 1882 and living until 1960. She was born to enormous wealth in a palace and died in poverty in an apartment above a barber shop. In her final years in Canada Grand Duchess Olga became friends with the author, Ian Vorres, and agreed to allow him to publish her reminiscences. Vorres did an excellent job of preserving the Grand Duchess's voice and opinions while grounding them in as much historical research as possible.
Olga Alexandrovna was not a brilliant or well educated woman. Her voice is that of a woman caught on the wrong side of history who suffered much tragic loss. She is understandably sympathetic to Imperial Russia and blind to its shortcomings. Nevertheless, the reader will find little bitterness in her story.
Olga was an individualist who enjoyed painting and a quiet country life. She endured nearly twenty years of a mockery of a marriage her mother forced her into, then found happiness as the wife of an ordinary Russian officer. Her second marriage caused her to become something of an outcast among her fellow Romanovs in exile, but she willingly gave up their society for the life of a simple country wife and mother, first in Denmark and later in Canada.
The most valuable parts of the book today are Olga's memories of her brother Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, and their five children. Her descriptions of their loving home and family and of her brother and sister-in-law's many kindnesses are a welcome contrast to the many books which depict the last Tsar and Empress as cold and heartless. Even more important are Olga's memories of Rasputin. She must have been among the last people to clearly remember him, and her description of him is vivid and disturbing.
This is an excellent book for any student of Russia and the Romanovs.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional writing!! 16 Jan 2002
By Susan Tuttle - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of the finest books I have read from the Romanov treasury. I have a first edition copy that took me almost a year to find and it was worth the wait. Because of Mr. Vorres research and interview skills combined the the story telling of the Grand Duchess, I was unable to put it down. In fact, I am reading it for a second time. There is no better story than that from the one who lives it. Olga was a cut above the others in the Imperial family in that she was devoted to common folk. She is revered and respected for thinking outside the box. A woman ahead of her time and one that refused to abide by the norm. I wish I could have met her in the simplest of circumstances. I recommend this book to those who a truly interested in Romanov history. She does a great justice in defense of her family.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those interested in the Romanov's this bookis a rare gem 9 Dec 2001
By David Logan - Published on Amazon.com
There are many books written about the Romanovs. Some of these are written by people who knew them as friends or as servants. There are very few books written about the Romanovs with permission of the Romanovs. Ian Vorres befriended the youngest sister of Tsar Nicholas II and was able to, with her permission, write her life story. Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna was fortunate along with her Mother, Empress Maria Fedorovna and her older sister Grand Duchess Xiena Alexandrovna to escape Russia after the revolution. Only a family member could know what it was like to be a Romanov and the joys and tragedies the family experienced. The Grand Duchess gave Vorres detailed information about her early years growing up at Gatchina Palace with her parents, Tsar Alexander III and Tsarina Maria and other private family information. She also has provided information about the family attitude to the fake Anastasia, Anna Anderson. It is truly incomprehensible for an Aunt to not to be able to recognise her neice. Grand Duchess Olga knew that Anderson was not her neice and was indeed a pathetic fraud. It is truly fascinating book which reveals how the mighty Romanovs fell and how few survived. The Grand Duchess explained to Vorres the life she lived after the revolution until her death in 1960. Vorres is basically the scribe of Grand Duchess Olga. I found it very interesting and a rare gem. I would say it is a must for anybody interested in the Romanov dynasty.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to be savored 27 May 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I normally race through books like a speed demon, but this was so enjoyable I read it s-l-o-w-l-y - and several times.
Olga was a woman raised in the lap of luxury in the Russian court but was able and willing to work at hard physical labor on farms in Denmark and Canada for decades without apparent bitterness at what many might consider her "fall" from high status.
At the very end of her life with no income and relatives around her, she accepted an invitation from Russian emigrees and spent her last months on a second-floor apartment in a working-class neighborhood in Toronto.
I have been going through some drastic changes in my life - rather unwillingly - and have spent a lot of time thinking about Olga and how she accepted things that happened.
Was she perfect? No, but I wonder if I could have lived her life with so much courage and acceptance.
I HIGHLY recommend this book.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting echoes from a fascinating past.... 9 Dec 2004
By alex - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Honestly, I had trouble putting that book down at night, but we all have to get some sleep ;o) Reading that book is like reliving the splendor of Imperial Russia , and at the same time, going through the lives of those who left Russia during the Revolution in unimaginable conditions... in fact, we could say the worst conditions possible. As I gathered, Olga's life was no piece of cake to say the very least. What is also fascinating about that book is Olga's demystification of Raspoutine and Mrs. Anderson. She sets the record straight about those two, once and for all. I won't tell you about the rest of her life... you have to read the book, and believe me, it it a fascinating one!
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