28 February 2014

Book Review ~ The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport

St. Martin's Press Pub Date Jun 3 2014
Also on Amazon US and Amazon UK

There have been many accounts of the story tragic story of the Romanov family, yet Helen Rappaport's new book brings an additional depth of perspective. Painstaking research, including translation of rarely seen personal letters, allows their lives to slowly unfold in fascinating detail.

The stories of public extravagance contrasts starkly with their private economies. The four girls (who for the first time don't simply blur into one) make their own toys and hand down their dresses and shoes as they grow out of them.

Helen's account leaves me undecided about the often sinister figure of Grigori Rasputin. He was clearly a great help to the family yet his association also did their reputation inestimable harm. Whatever the truth, he seems a poor choice as the girls 'moral guardian.' Another ambivalent character is their maternal great grandmother. Queen Victoria, who seems to keep them at a distance and considers Russia to be 'a savage superstitious country.' 

I was touched to read how the Romanov sisters, who had previously led such sheltered lives, dedicated themselves to nursing the sick and wounded victims of the war. Helen Rapport deals with the appalling end of their story with great sensitivity, making this book a fitting memorial to four very special sisters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia.

About the Author:

Helen Rappaport  lives in Oxford and studied Russian at Leeds University. A specialist in Russian and nineteenth-century women’s history, she has appeared on British TV and in films until the early 1990s, when she abandoned acting and embraced her second love - history and with it the insecurities of a writer’s life.

Helen is a fluent Russian speaker and her great passion is to winkle out lost stories from the footnotes and breathe new life and new perspectives into old subjects. In 2010 she was talking head on a Mystery Files documentary about the Murder of the Romanovs for National Geographic channel.

Vist Helen's website at http://www.helenrappaport.com/.

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