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The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra Hardcover – 3 Jun 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 492 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (3 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250020204
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250020208
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 4.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,014,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

The Romanov Sisters 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 ...

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alisha Bookseller on 3 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover
As I say pretty much every time I review a book like this, I'm a huge history nerd. The Romanov's are one of the parts of history that fascinates me, so I was eager to read this.

This book is very well researched and I learned a lot of things I didn't know, this is probably the only book out there that focuses on the girls most, and where they're given a large role, it's mostly about family life and such.

When you've finished reading, you really feel like you do know the girls a lot more than you would if you just read about them on wikipedia, reading this book they became more like real people, than just characters from a part of history. A lot of historical figures are very unreal to us even though they where real people, and with this book, you come to know the girls a lot more than you would historical figures. You're reminded that they where real, they where human and they had lives that where more than just what happened that day, if that makes sense.

I loved all the primary source material, the letters, diary entries and such. I've not read a book on the sisters or anyone else with this much personal information. This may sound strange but you really become connected to the girls as real people, rather than as I said, these historical figures who are strangers to you.

The book is very well written, and very engaging, easy to read and follow, and easy to keep reading, I couldn't put the book down, and I didn't struggle to read or keep reading, like is sometimes the case with history books. It was amazing how the author told their story in such a way they jumped off the page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kerry M on 1 July 2014
Format: Hardcover
The book is a well researched stunning account of the family life of the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II. Whilst the focus is on the girls, the Tsar, his wife and only son, Alexy are not left out. I did not know a lot about the Romanov girls so I found this book intriguing and enlightening. Each of the sisters has their own story that allows you to understand their lives lived in seclusion and fear. The saddest part of all is that this is a tragic and true story. There is no happy ever after or knight in shining armour arriving at the last minute to save them. Having said that, you still read it, hoping that somehow they survive. Thank you Helen Rappaport for providing a very real and poignant account of this tragic family.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book about the Romanov sisters! My disabled son and I are extremely interested in the lives of the Romanov family and have visited several places in Russia relating to the family and we hope to male a return visit next year to see the places that we missed last time. My son Lewis has corresponded with the author, Helen Rappaport in the best and received a lovely reply from her. We have a number of her books on this subject, all of which are brilliant books.
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By caroline ellerton on 10 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 369 reviews
248 of 265 people found the following review helpful
One of my top Romanov books of all time 3 Jun. 2014
By Historical Fiction Notebook - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I came very close to not requesting a review copy of this book. I thought there was no point. I thought I'd reached my limit on Romanov books - they rarely contain anything new, they're all drawing on the same primary source material and sadly, the Romanovs have reached a point at which they don't even really seem like real people anymore. They're more like copies of characters in some old novel.

I am so glad that I went ahead and read this - not only is it one of my few five-star reads so far this year, it will probably become one of my favorite Romanov books of all time. Rappaport is a brilliant writer and researcher. She has accomplished what I did not think was possible - taught me many new things about life in Imperial Russia, about the lives of these four young women and why I should care about them and given me an eerily real sense of that long-ago time.

My e-galley copy is filled with highlighted passages and notes - many of them noting places with brand-new anecdotes from previously unpublished sources. I kept coming across them with genuine delight and surprise - I've been reading about the Romanovs for twenty years and never come across some of these stories. Rappaport also a good ear for excerpting funny, poignant and revealing passages from the girls' letters and diaries. You get a very good sense of their individual voices from reading this book.

I feel as though - for the first time - I can actually tell the girls apart and that the differences in their personalities are a revelation. I have a much more nuanced understanding of the Romanov family. Rappaport also managed the almost unthinkable in getting me to feel empathy for the Empress Alexandra. I am not a big fan of hers and believe she was an utterly disastrous ruler, wife and (even) mother. Rappaport looks sensitively at her background and helped me understand Alexandra's troubled mind while not excusing her actions.

All in all, a highly recommended work of non-fiction. Despite having received an eBook for review, I will immediately purchase a hardcover copy to add to my collection - it's that good!

Disclaimer: I received an advance eGalley from the publisher for review.
142 of 153 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful and Heartbreaking 4 May 2014
By JLee - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an incredible book, beautifully written and researched. It is also heartbreaking. I can’t tell you how many times I read something about one of the four Romanov sisters, the doomed daughters of Czar Nicholas and Alexandra, that caused me to stop reading and just stare at the faces on the cover. The author brings these young women to life, and it is impossible not to grieve for the innocent, young lives lost too soon.

Although the title refers to the four sisters (who referred to themselves as OTMA – Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia), the book actually begins before the marriage of their parents. Nicholas and Alexandra came to love each other very much; they were absolutely perfect for each other. They were absolutely wrong for the Russian monarchy. Nicholas would have made a wonderful country gentleman. Alexandra was very shy and suffered from health problems that limited her mobility. They were, however, warm and loving persons. How happy they could have been in other circumstances.

From Alexandra, Russia expects two things – for her to give birth to a son, and for her to be a social leader. Instead, she is almost invisible except for the disappointing announcements, one after another after another, of the birth of her daughters. And then, while the rest of the world is fascinated by the four Grand Duchesses, in Russia they are viewed as irrelevant and unimportant.

The girls live in virtual isolation. The only freedom they have is when they travel, especially on their yacht. They are constantly under threat, and they are constantly surrounded by armed guards. Still, they are brought up to be loving and charitable persons. Their personalities do come across. Anastasia is often a brat. Tatiana and Maria are stalwart. Olga, the oldest, is the most deeply affected by their confinement. She should have long been married and away, but instead she is kept at home. I just wanted to scream how unfair it all was. When they traveled outside of Russia, I wanted someone to stop them from going back. I wanted someone to rescue them, to protect them, to take care of them.

This is a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it.
170 of 188 people found the following review helpful
Review by Closed the Cover 3 Jun. 2014
By Ashley LaMar - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
After finishing The Romanov Sisters I feel pleasantly deceived but deceived nonetheless. The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport is presented as a book about the lives of the four young Romanov girls – Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia – however much of the book isn’t about them at all. The book focuses very heavily on their parents, their brother Alexei and the political turmoil of Russia. The first 15%-20% of the book details the background of their mother, Alexandra, rather than introducing the girls themselves. The awkwardness of this is only compounded by the lack of background on their father, Nicholas. While I did indeed enjoy this glimpse inside the lives of the Romanov family and it does feel thoroughly and accurately researched I can’t help but feel that readers who are seeking a book about the sisters (affectionately referred to as OTMA by combining the first letters of their first names) may be disappointed.

It almost feels as though this book deserves two separate reviews – one for the book as described and one for the book as written. As described the book is a failure but as written it’s actually a wonderful read. Considering this book, not as a book about the sisters, but rather as a book about the family and the political turmoil of their country, it is a definite success.

In this book the story of the sisters is frequently overshadowed by their younger brother Alexei or by the lives of their parents. When the sisters are the focus of the writing Rappaport pays far more attention to the lives of the older sisters, Olga and Tatiana, leaving Maria and Anastasia in the shadows and nearly forgotten. I missed reading about them when they were omitted although when they were included they felt lifeless almost as though they were included as an afterthought or only because they were part of “OTMA.” It also felt somewhat “off” that Rappaport failed to include the final days of this unique family with any importance. While reading this book I often felt that the purpose of this one was only to entice readers to purchase Rappaport’s other works. In 2008 she wrote, “The Last days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg” also published by St. Martin’s Press which was a bestseller. It felt like “The Romanov Sisters” ended without delving too much into the final tragedy because readers are expected to purchase her 2008 release. While it may indeed have interested me in her other work this book ended rather awkwardly and rushed.

In the end I’m left feeling conflicted and undecided. I liked the history of the Romanov family but I feel as though the sisters were not the main focus despite how the book is described. I enjoyed the Russian history but didn’t expect it. The family as a whole was heavily involved with Alexei, the Romanov brother, overshadowing his sisters in the book as he did in life. The ending was rushed, awkward and felt as though it was intended only to encourage readers to purchase Rappaport’s other work. A good book? Yes. As described? No.

Review by Ashley LaMar
Closed the Cover
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Lovingly Written and Fascinating 2 Jun. 2014
By StarReviewer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
“The Romanov Sisters” is balanced, informative and moving. There is enough historical background provided that readers unfamiliar with Russian history can enjoy the book. It has good pacing and does not speed or trudge through any events. Rappaport does an excellent job of balancing the stories of four sisters with the larger stories of their family and country. She presents each sister as an individual without ignoring how tight-knit the family was. Olga and Tatiana get more coverage than the younger sisters - I believe this is simply because there is more information available on them. Most strikingly, Rappaport writes lovingly. She does not idealize the Romanov family, but seems to accept them, flaws and all, with the tenderness of someone who, through research, has come as close to knowing them as possible. This love makes “The Romanov Sisters” truly special. After finishing it, I naturally felt a sense of how tragic and senseless the murder of the Romanov family was; but, more importantly, I came to realize that these women were extraordinary, not because of how they died or the rumors that abounded afterward, but in their own right.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Detailed, intimate, haunting, poignant: Four lives rescued from history’s shadows 2 May 2014
By Jaylia3 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Comprehensive and well documented, this joint biography of the last Tsar’s four daughters stops just short of their violent deaths at the hands of revolutionaries, but it’s a poignant and haunting story from start to finish. Lovely, intelligent, and good humored, sisters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia were seen as a unit, even referring to themselves as OTMA, but they come alive as individuals in the chapters of this book, with (roughly speaking) Olga the most emotional, Tatiana the most responsible, Maria the best natured, and Anastasia the most spirited. Their parents Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra come across as devoted and doting, fatalistically pious in their beliefs, but not temperamentally suited for public life, and the Tsarevich Alexei, their lively younger brother, romps through the pages as much as his hemophilia allows.

Using sources that include their diaries and letters, the four sisters often get to speak for themselves. Their lives were sheltered, isolated, and privileged, but full of contradictions. They had lots of family love and idyllic summer excursions, but their mother was often incapacitated by illness, and Alexey was regularly bedridden and in great pain. The four were expected to marry well, especially Olga as the eldest, but they were kept from society so their crushes were on soldiers that guarded them, not European royals or members of their own class. They played silly child-like games far into adolescence, but during WWI spent their days tending to badly injured and disfigured soldiers, especially Tatiana who worked as a surgery nurse.

Too thorough and detailed to read like a novel, The Romanov Sisters is still moving and a hard book to put down, capturing some fascinating bits of history and rescuing Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia from history’s shadows.
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