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Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  494 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews

The dramatic story of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia—A penetrating and deeply personal study that gives profound psychological insight into their marriage and how it shaped the events that engulfed them.

There are few characters in history about whom opinion has been more divided than the last Tsar of Russia,

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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Aug 13, 2012 Jenna rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I really, really wanted to love this book. Massie's 'Nicholas & Alexandra' is one of my favorite books, so I was looking forward to this update now that much new information is available from the Russian archives. Overall, though the information it contained was good, this book was a disappointment.

First of all, the organization was weird. Rounding begins with chapters organized by topic, but about halfway through switches to organizing each chapter chronologically, starting over again with
Virginia Rounding
Jul 31, 2012 Virginia Rounding rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)

Well, I would give it 5 stars, wouldn't I?

Here's an extract from my Introduction to the book, which explains something about my approach to the writing of it:

"The analogy that comes most readily to mind when writing a new book about such apparently well-known yet still controversial figures is that of curating an exhibition of some already famous artist. Just as the curator endeavors to present a different view, through judicious, sometimes idiosyncratic, selection, juxtaposition, ordering, and

Tracie  Nicole (Mad March Hare)
Maybe a 2.5.
Title was misleading. I thought this was to be a love story but it was all about Alix's health problems and Nicky's indecisiveness. And it was so political. I also disliked the author's writing style. She was presumptuous and enjoyed acting as if she knew exactly what the family was thinking or meant the entire book. Her sources were shaky at best and her notes were badly done. And she bounced around too much. The last 50 pages were so boring and hard to get through.
I received this book for free as a First Reads giveaway.

I have no doubt that in the right hands, this book would get a solid 5 out of 5 star rating. It is obvious that the book was thoroughly researched, and that the author has a great interest in this topic and a passion for acting as a "curator" to gather the various accounts and opinions of Alix and Nicky. I really admire and respect all the work that very clearly went into this book on the part of the author. Unfortunately, I didn't really e
Apr 02, 2013 Kathleen rated it really liked it
This is a pretty rough read. Not because it's not a compelling story-- it is, though it can be dense at times and perhaps overly confusing in the description of the ministerial musical chairs and other things-- it's more because the story is almost too compelling.

We know, most people, that Alexandra and Nicholas, their five children, three servants, and personal doctor were shot in a cellar maybe a year after the tsar abdicated. What made this book so difficult for me was that I got to know Alex
Jul 04, 2012 Ashley rated it liked it
This book was really fascinating concerning the relationship between Nicky and Alix and their children. It really went into Rasputin's huge influence over the family. The main things I has problems with was the author jumping around switching to events sometimes out of order. Nicky and Alix's anti-Semitism really turned me off and Alix's using her invalid state as a tool to control her children. My favorite parts were when the author did a personality test on Nicky with very accurate results tha ...more
Rebecca Huston
I am going to be brutally honest here and state right up front that I did not like this book very much. While I appreciated some aspects, such as the descriptions of the palaces, and various celebrations such as in 1913 and the coronation, the author's attitude was sarcastic and at times snide -- that's hard to take in a nonfiction, historical book. Most frustrating was the nonlinear format of telling the story, and the constant jumping about by the author -- it was annoying and made the story d ...more
Apr 05, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it
This is an account of the love story, and the tragedy, of the ill-fated Nicholas and Alexandra. As one reviewer on Amazon pointed out, it's more of a psychological study of the pair than a straight biography--and if you don't have at least a basic knowledge of this period, you may find yourself lost at times. The author relies heavily on the couple's letters, which (especially in Alix's case) are variously heartbreaking, mushy, appalling, and poignant. Rounding is sympathetic toward her subjects ...more
Sep 29, 2015 Marilyn rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in Romanovs, Royals and Russa
Nicholas and Alexandria had three passions : their passion for each other, their passion to keep their rule autocratic, and their passion for suffering. They apparently felt they were fated to suffer, so they were passive about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that fell upon themselves. Those that fell upon their son Alexis, they were not so passive about.

I found the book both sad and interesting. Sad because those two shy people just could not be the autocrats their ancestors were. S
Terri Durling
Jul 02, 2015 Terri Durling rated it liked it
I have always been fascinated with the story of the Romanovs and their part in Russian history. This is a very personal protrayal of the relationship between Alix and Nicky and fairly well done. It was interesting to read about their personalities and it even goes so far as to detail their personalities with the Myers-Briggs theory. It does into detail about Alix's pregnancies and that she gave birth to fairly large size babies. Much is said about their differences as well - she being portrayed ...more
Sonya   ~*Why Do We Build The Wall?*~ Schuyler  (no more RP invites)
I enjoyed the informative but tedious early chapters of this book which include in better detail Nicky and Alix's relationships they kept from the rest of the family, especially with Anna Vyrubova. However, the chapters were too long and the book suffered from a combination of "Anastasia's Secret disorder" (bad earlier, chapter, good later chapter) and "Natasha's Dance disorder" (good, informative beginning, confusing later chapters). Most of the book could have been rated at 4 stars, despite th ...more
Carolyn Harris
"One of the great strengths of Rounding’s work is her analysis of Nicholas’s and Alexandra’s diaries and letters for evidence of their cultural tastes. Their favourite novels are discussed in detail, the contrast between their enjoyment of mainstream Tchaikovsky ballets and the avant garde tastes of the broader Russian court receives sustained attention. Rounding’s use of memoir literature and newspaper articles of the period illuminates the reasons why their living spaces were considered “bourg ...more
Rita Andres
Apr 14, 2014 Rita Andres rated it really liked it
I read this book in preparation for our trip to St. Petersburg in June. In this book, the author really tries to figure out what both the Tsar and Tsarina are thinking at critical times in their family and public lives. Quotes from letters from both Nicky and Alix are analyzed. This book is rather detailed, but I am so glad that I read it. The photographs of the Emperor and Empress and their children are so beautiful. Because it is well known that they are all executed in July of 1918, one feels ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jul 17, 2014 Daniel Kukwa rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It's nowhere near the rehash of old information that I thought it would be, and it doubly surprised me by opening with thematic chapters (I prefer linear chronologies) that didn't annoy me; I actually thought they were the highlight of the book. The level of detail in the analysis of communication between Alix and Nicky becomes downright crushing by the end of the book...only to pull back and offer an interesting examination of how they transformed into religious Russian icons in the modern age. ...more
May 20, 2016 Julie added it
Shelves: own, non-fiction, romanov
I have read a number of books about the last imperial couple of Russia, but this one explored the relationship between them more than any other. Referencing their personal letters, it explored their devotion to one another as well as their individual personalities. It explored Alix's temperament in relation to her invalidism and this was the first time I've encountered an author who presented a possible diagnosis of her maladies (porphyria, a genetic condition, exacerbated by her stressful life ...more
May 10, 2014 Denise rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
This book was disappointing. It followed no chronological order and jumped all over. Rasputin and Anna Vyrubova were hardly mentioned at all. Little was spoken about the time, that the family was held as prisoners, before they were executed.
There were a couple of little gems in Alix's story. First, on their 21st anniversary, Alix and Nicky were apart, however, Alix mentions in a letter to Nicky, that she had put on her brooch, to remind her of him. I believe , she is referring to his magnificent
Jan 21, 2012 Meghan rated it really liked it
This is the first nonfiction book that I have read on Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Obviously, I knew the basics and by reading a few fictional books on Anastasia and plain research I grasped a little bit of what their life was like. However, that is not what this book focuses on. Instead, from this book, I learned what the relationship was like between Alix and Nicky. As someone who knew nearly nothing of them, this book was an eye-opener. I was previously unaware of the absolute devotion th ...more
Sep 18, 2012 Thea rated it really liked it
The topic of the last Tsar and Tsarina has been one that has fascinated me for many, many years, after I read Robert Massie's biography of the couple way back in the 1980s. I have read many books about them, their place in history, and the reasons for their tragic end. Most of the books were non-fiction with a few fiction thrown in (Robert Alexander, catherine Gaskin etc.) While this particular title did not add much new information on the royal couple, it did put everything together in a really ...more
Jul 11, 2014 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I enjoyed this book for it's ability to open the world of the Tsar through the letters of those who were living it. My only complaint was not moving chronologically. The chapters were labeled with the years it covered which was helpful but within the chapters, paragraphs would jump 5 years from current events than back, causing me to backtrack and reread certain passages for clarity. Although I knew the fate of all characters involved the book held my attention and gave insight and depth to the ...more
Madeleine McLaughlin
Jan 28, 2015 Madeleine McLaughlin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography
This tells the real story, through letters, of the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia, it proves that they were not meant to be leaders. They were simply and would have made great middle-class family people. Anyway, anyone who reads this will learn the truth about their relationship to each other, to Rasputin and to the other Russians interested in keeping Russia whole. Totally recommended read.
Megan Gery
Oct 26, 2014 Megan Gery rated it really liked it
I've always been fascinated by the Romanov family, and this portrayal is near perfect. The author clearly loves her subjects, and so she can speak of them with fond criticality, and sometimes even mild snarkiness, as though she were a member of the family.

Beautifully written. The last chapter was very evocative.
May 24, 2014 Laura rated it it was ok
Interesting but disjointed. The author flipped back and forth inexplicably between past and present tense. She used first person several times. And there was a long detour about Myers-Briggs tests that seemed entirely out of place.
Jan 24, 2014 Brenda rated it it was ok
Not well organized and it covers a lot of ground already covered by better writers and historians; still, there were some interesting nuggets that popped up now and then that made it worth sticking with. Looking for the definitive tale of the last Tsar and Tsarina? Read Robert K. Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra.
Oct 28, 2012 Hal rated it really liked it
I have read a number of books on the last Tsar and Tsarina as I find it a fascinating subject. This book was OK, and added more to my knowledge about them. Based extensively on letters written between them and related people in history.

I think the most interesting insight I gained was that Alexandra's meddling and championing of the monk Rasputin certainly hastened their demise. However in spite of this they probably would have suffered the same fate as Nicholas never seemed to get a grip on han
This book was a first read contest win.

This book was very interesting. This book allowing insight into something that few people know. While this type of book is not what I usually read I was drawn into this book. Reading about a Tsar and Tsarina I kept wondering how there life's are changed by the whim of the people. Everyone has choices in life whether it is to go one way or the other. This book portrays exactly that in the life of Alix and Nicky. Did they do what was right? In t
False Millennium
May 26, 2012 False Millennium rated it liked it
I read everything on the Romanovs. This was an insightful work into the relationship of husband and wife, and some more flushed out information on Rasputin and a family "friend" who sounds like a nightmare. After reading this, I went to You Tube where there are many videos of the family, photographs in color, and a recording of a speech by the Tsar, so you can hear his voice. I also took the time to watch a six part You Tube on Nicholas' sister, The Grand Duchess Olga. What strange turns her lif ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Jan 26, 2012 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as decided-not-to-read
Shelves: biography
I liked this author's book on Catherine the Great so I figured I'd give this a try. But ... I don't know, this is the kind of thing that's a little hard to read when you know what's coming, and I felt like I wasn't learning much that was new to me. Some things about the way the Russian court, granted, but not enough to take away from the "depressing story" feeling.
Sep 22, 2013 Jobe rated it really liked it
I am finally done with this book!! it took me forever because it's so dense. I enjoyed this inside look into the lives of the Romanov family. Chronologically, the book skipped around a lot, which was a bit confusing, but overall it was a good read. Nothing else to add to this review at the moment. :-)
Karen Jean
Jul 13, 2013 Karen Jean rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian-royalty
I have read many books on the Tsar and his family and enjoyed this book immensely. I specifically like the insight into the dynamics of the family and that of the Tsar and Alix with Rasputin and Ania. It gave me a new perspective on their lives.
Stacie Davis
Jul 21, 2012 Stacie Davis rated it liked it
Enjoyed reading the history of this famous couple. Sad ending to a life filled with great promises and beautiful children who could have gone on to find a deep love like their parents.
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Virginia Rounding is an author and book critic, specialising in history – especially, though not exclusively – that of Russia and France. Her last book was a biography of the Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great: Love, Sex and Power, 2006, described by Frances Wilson in the Daily Telegraph as ‘a thumping great triumph of a book’), and she will soon be presenting a programme for BBC Radio 3 a ...more
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