This post is something I haven’t ever done on this blog. I’m going to review a non-fiction book. I don’t do read non-fiction like biographies as much because it takes more concentration than I have most of the time. But I found a copy of The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport on day. The Romanovs are people that I’m vaguely interested in. I read this book in little portions because that’s how I could handle it. I generally read this book between books. It made it a lot more manageable for me. For reference, right now, this isn’t going to be a fun post. It’s going to be one of those that talk a lot about historical events and people.
The author says in her notes at the beginning that there’s not going to be anything about the women who said they were Anastasia. I’d read books about them though I realize why they aren’t in this book. That would be a lot more work/research for Rappaport and it would make the book a lot longer. And the imposters were mainly Anastasia imposters and this is a book about all the sisters. This book didn’t include a lot of the last 2 weeks, the deaths and disposal of the family because she already wrote a book about it and that disappointed me because that was the interesting part for me. Yes, I know. I’m a little morbid because I wanted to know more about their deaths.
In my head, there is a stereotype of royal families. In my head, they’re raised to be in the eye of public. They have an element of socialness like they like to be around people to a degree but also like to keep things private. I feel like, after reading this book, that the Romanovs were extremely private. I don’t know if this is true for all royal families or not. For example, the parents kept their romance quiet at the beginning. Also, it felt to me, that they ran from everything public like public outings. But that might be a Russian thing? Or something that has developed with media? I’m not sure but it does make sense to me that the Russian people were discontent with the royal family if they seemed to be not around. I mean if I never saw the Obamas or heard what they were doing, I’d be frustrated too. But I do have to give props to Queen Victoria (Alexandra’s grandmother) for calling how Russia was going to be in trouble. That does make me think that what was going on in Russia and the discontent was noticeable. And if it was noticeable than why wasn’t anything done by the Romanovs? Were they self-involved to the point they couldn’t see what was going on in their own country? I did wonder how the Romanovs would deal with the paparazzi today. But at the same time, they were in the public eye. Everyone knew that the older two girls worked as nurses. Everyone knew about and talked about how there were four princesses and then finally a boy and breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone talked about Olga’s marriage possibilities. So there was some time in the public eye.
Let’s talk about Alexandra. She was in the book a lot. More than I thought she would be in a book about the girls. But as a parent, she would be. I admired that she aspired for her daughters to be more than wives. But at the same time, she was overprotective not giving her daughters the skills to survive as single women. Am I expecting too much from the time period and from a woman who was sick a lot? And for her being sickly, she had huge babies. If I had five kids I hope they’re not as big as those kids. I found it interesting that Nicholas and Alexandra never seemed to freak out over having 4 daughters before a son. The son was the one that carries on the family profession. Being heir is a very male dominated thing and they didn’t freak. Maybe cause the rest of the country did. And Russia’s a big country. But looking at Alexy, he was the center of their world when he came. Especially Alexandra’s. But as a mother, that’s normal. And I do think she repressed her family some. I think how she wanted her daughters to be something more than wives led her to her not letting explore some. In my head it makes sense. I know that how I worded it isn’t great.
Sometimes I forget that politics and religion aren’t or weren’t always two separate things. There are countries today that they go hand in hand and they did in Russia at this time. (I don’t know how it is now.) I don’t want to get into my opinion about it but Mysticism and the occult and superstitions were huge things at this time. And I wonder if that was because of the education level of the masses. Not that educated people can’t be into Mysticism, occult or superstitious but I feel like what people believe is affected by their education. And how much of that revolution was directly to what people believed and were convinced were true? There’s a lot of questions. Too many for this blog.
Let’s talk a little about the book itself. I liked that the chapters were mostly under 20 pages. It made life a little more enjoyable. I liked the pictures. I know that sounds young of me but it’s nice to put the faces to the people. And the size of the book was actually surprising. If you took away all the endnotes and stuff, it’s under 400 pages. That was nice because there was so much that the author could have done I’m sure to make it longer. And any mention of Kiev makes me think about The Fiddler on the Roof. I hated them talking about the new and old time. Some people it’s a big time but to me it’s not. If something was never said and they went with the one time, I wouldn’t have known any better. But there was the different times and the what not. It was a lot. And Rappaport writes dates like a European.
Overall it’s a good book. There’s a lot of information and it can be tedious but that’s how these books are typically.