Skip to main content

Review: The Last Days of the Romanovs, by Helen Rappaport


The Last Days of the Romanovs is the story of the last fourteen-ish days of the lives of the Romanov family during their stay at Ipatiev House (aka “The House of Special Purposes”) in Yekaterinburg (oddly, Rappaport spells it as “Ekaterinburg” here), up until their murder two weeks later, on July 17th 1918. It may be a nonfiction account, but parts of this book read as though they’re fiction.

Each chapter ostensible covers each day leading up to the murders, but the author gives her reader a lot of background information on the Revolution, the Romanov family, and the people involved in their demise. It’s a pretty readable book in the sense that the prose is fairly straightforward, and there are no footnotes to bog the reader down. Rappaport portrays the Romanov family sympathetically, as a group of people victimized by circumstance and out of control of their own destinies. This book is a good introduction to the subject, and a good work of popular history overall.

There was a lot of interesting information here; for example, I didn’t know that the Romanovs were so fluent in English (though it shouldn’t be surprising, considering George V of Britain was Tsar Nicholas’s cousin, and that Queen Victoria was Tsaritsa Alexandra’s grandmother). The book is also accompanied by two sets of reproductions of photos.

My only complaint about this well-written book is Rappaport’s rather bizarre transliterations of Russian names (I only have a year of college Russian under my belt, and that years ago, but I’m still puzzling over why the author chose to spell the Tsarevich Alexei’s name as Alexey, or why she chose to spell commandant Avadeyev’s name as “Avdeev”).

Comments

Alyce said…
It does sound like an interesting book. Those spellings of the names are a little strange, but I guess as long as they were consistent throughout the book it wouldn't bother me too much. Of course, I haven't taken Russian. :)
Jen said…
Oh good, I have this on hold at the library, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
I haven't read much about the Romanov's and have been looking forward to this one...glad to see that it's worth reading! Really great review!
S. Krishna said…
This sounds interesting!
Jo said…
I've been fascinated by the Romanov's since I did Russian History at school. I might have to look for this.
Arleigh said…
I'm very interested in this book since I read The Kitchen Boy a few weeks ago. Thanks for the review!
Your blog has been nominated for a Sisterhood Award. Details can be found at http://pkmadsen.blogspot.com/2009/03/sisterhood-awardwatchmen.html. Love to come visit frequently.

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

January:
1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

February:
1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

March:
1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…