(Image Links to Goodreads)
This was book three from the YALSA Nonfiction Award Finalist List. I’ve always been curious about the Romanovs. Not so interested that I went out of my way to find out information, but intrigued enough that I would continue watching/reading/listening if something came my way. The book itself is impressive. I loved the cover, the contrast of the royal family above the title banner with the general population below. (Note, even here the Romanovs are given more space.) The pages are thick, with several sections of glossy photos.
I am so glad that I read this book. I know very little about the years before World War I in Russia, though having been born in the 80s, I know some of the aftermath of the Communist regime that was a result of the events described in the book. It was interesting to read about and understand the events and decisions that lead to that end. Throughout the story the Imperial family are excerpts from the point of view of the lower classes in Russia. These interludes keep the reader grounded in the reality of what most of Russia was experiencing. (They also allow the writing to complement the cover.) The story of the Romanovs was very reminiscent of the story of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. A foreign empress (queen); a couple who is not prepared to rule an entire country; a family that would prefer to isolate itself from the spotlight; a country on the verge of destruction.
The story was well-written, weaving in bits of cultural information (I finally understand how Russian names work!) and tales of the poor classes of the country. It never felt like a text book, never dry and boring, but often engrossing. While reading it became a habit to pull myself out of the book and ask the nearest person, “Did you know…[insert interesting fact I learned here]?” Reading through the author’s notes, it was interesting to see how Candace was drawn into the subject and progressed about her research. The extensive bibliography provides plenty of further reading for those interested, including web resources.
Check out this awesome book trailer and then the book:
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Title: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia
Author: Candace Fleming
Age level: YA
Illustrated: Includes photographs
Who I would give this book to: Someone who loves: history, Russia, royalty, tragic tales of people who refuse to see their own faults, stories of revolutions gone wrong, stories without a happy ending (sorry, spoiler!)
Setting: Russia during the reign of the last Tsar.
Favorite Character: Rasputin. He was the most interesting person with clear (albeit evil) motives.
Favorite Moment: Alexandra and the “Older Pair” getting certified and working as nurses. It was nice to see a moment where Alexandra thought outside of herself and did something extraordinary (yes, I believe nursing the sick and dying is extraordinary, whether you are a peasant or an empress).
Rating: 4 stars
Book Source: LIBRARY!