The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra
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The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  1,046 ratings  ·  230 reviews
They were the Princess Dianas of their day—perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses—Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov—were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle.

Over the years, the story of the four...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by St. Martin's Press (first published March 27th 2014)
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Joseph
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandria by Helen Rappaport is a comprehensive look at the last royal family of Russia. Rappaport attended Leeds University with the intention of joining the Foreign Office. She changed her mind and became an actress. She became a full-time writer in 1998 and has written several books on Russian history and Victorian history. Her work on Lenin caused a stir when she proposed that he died of syphilis rather than a stroke.

Grow...more
Susan
Having read all of Helen Rappaport’s books, including her 2009, “Ekaterinburg: the Last Days of the Romanovs,” I was delighted to read her latest work. “The Romanov Sisters” concentrates on the story of the Romanov’s from a slightly different viewpoint; rather than highlighting the relationship of Nicholas and Alexandra, or the illness of Alexey and Alexandra’s reliance on Rasputin, she takes the largely untold life stories of four sisters and examines them in detail. Of course, the marriage of...more
Diane S.
3.5 Although much in this book was known to me previously, I did like the way this was presented. The writing is very readable, clear and precise. It focused more on the family, their daily schedules, the people they were in contact with and their individual personalities. History of course invaded the focus, but only when necessary, and how it affected the family and what they thought about what was happening.

I did feel that I received a better understanding of the girls, their individual pers...more
C.W.
This poignant and haunting look at the Romanov daughters reminds us of why, so many years later, we continue to be fascinated by their beauty, their fragile world, and their untimely deaths. Focusing on Olga, Tatiana, Marie and Anastasia, Ms Rappaport pulls back the veil on their privileged but often cold upbringing; their difficult yet adoring relationship with the neurotic Tsarina, Alexandra; and the family's fervent focus on the only son, Alexis, whose hemophiliac disorder caused so much pain...more
Jolene
**Thank you St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for providing this in exchange for an honest review**

I feel like this was a bait and switch. From the title and the book description one would think this would deal mostly with the Romanov sisters. That is not exactly the case. This is really more about the family as a whole, rather then the girls themselves. The material was very well researched and the writing is engaging enough, but this wasn't the book I feel I was promised. If you're just startin...more
Jaylia3
Comprehensive and well documented, this joint biography of the last Tsar’s four daughters stops just short of their violent deaths at the hands of revolutionaries, but it’s a poignant and haunting story from start to finish. Lovely, intelligent, and good humored, sisters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia were seen as a unit, even referring to themselves as OTMA, but they come alive as individuals in the chapters of this book, with (roughly speaking) Olga the most emotional, Tatiana the most re...more
Erin
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Whether or not you appreciate Helen Rappaport's The Romanov Sisters will depend on how you approach it. I don't mean to be cynical, but the jacket description and cover art are not indicative of the material within and I personally found the book much less frustrating when I put aside my interest in the individual character of Nicholas' daughters and considered the book as I would a general biography of the family.

Why? Oh I...more
Laurie Notaro
Compelling, engrossing, fast paced but doesn't leave out the details. A solid, comprehensive look at the Romanov sisters from birth until death--and it will probably all surprise you, including what could have been done to change their awful fates. They were goofy, kind, sometimes bawdy, and devoted to one another and their parents. Highly recc. Highly. I super loved this book. .
Lucy
This is an absorbing biography and history of the four sisters and the last Russian royal family. Rappaport starts by describing the one of their last residences before delving back into the family history of the sisters which stretched across the royal houses of Europe. Although this is a richly detailed and informative book it is not difficult to read. So, those that are wary of reading history books for fear of the writing being dry shouldn’t worry. Interspersed with historical quotes from pr...more
Laura


I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Since the author is a writer historian russanist, this book majestically describes the life of the Romanovs, even if the title gives a false impression on the main plot. How to describe the sisters' life without mentioning their parents, Nicholas and Alexandra, and even their poor hemophiliac brother Alexey?

The book starts with the description of the married life of Nicholas and Alexandra,...more
Amy
Wow, what an incredibly fascinating and heart-wrenching read! I've long been intrigued by the story of the Romanov family and in particular, the four sisters, Olga, Tatiana, Marie, and Anastasia - collectively known as OTMA - so I immediately requested to review Rappaport's book as soon as it popped up on Edelweiss and I am so glad that I did!

Rappaport delivers a highly enjoyable and insightful read that was never dry or boring. The Romanov girls personalities shine through and the reader comes...more
Aoife
I actually wish I could give this book a higher rating because it is very well researched and also well-written. Non-fiction can often appear a bit dry but the author manages to interweave facts, quotes from diaries and letters, and her own take on some events in a way that it's rarely boring.
However: I expected a book about the four Romanov-sisters and I don't really feel I got that. The first few chapters are mostly dedicated to the parents, especially Alexandra, the mother. I understand that...more
James
The story of the Romanov children (the title says sisters, but Helen Rappaport does include their younger brother Alexei as well) from their births through to their untimely deaths at the hands of Bolshevik revolutionaries. Rappaport starts out with a couple of background chapters: mostly explaining the line from Queen Victoria to her granddaughter Alexandra, of the House Hesse-Darmstadt, her marriage to Nicholas Romanov, Emperor of Russia and some surrounding histories. The rest of the book is...more
Denise
This is a painstakingly researched book about not only the four Romanov grand duchesses but the other family members, as well. The slant, as the title suggests, though, is towards a more thorough understanding of the girls, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia.

I have always been fascinated by the last tsar and his family. And I have always thought the violent deaths of the family, particularly the innocent children, was a horrendous tragedy. Through her detailed research, Helen Rappaport has give...more
Lisa
One day over six years ago, at only 13-14, I looked up 'Anastasia'. I don't know why. That day my life changed forever. OTMA became truly my love. I own and have read well over 40 books on the family, yet there was always a void: an OTMA biography. OTMA, known to the world as four little pretty innocent princesses in pretty flowing white sun dresses with pearls dangling from their sleek necks. But oh what a facade! OTMA are real girls with real issues.

This book was being touted as having new inf...more
The Window Seat
I have a confession... I have read just about everything that has ever been written about Nicholas, Alexandra, and their five children. It all began when in my youth I watched a television miniseries about Anastasia and my fascination has never wavered. When I saw this book on NetGalley, I knew I just had to read it and review it even if it isn't exactly what The Window Seat is known for!

For those that don't know, the Romanov family were the Imperial family that ruled Russia for hundreds of year...more
Erika Schoeps
Disclaimer: This book was given to me in a Goodreads FirstReads giveaway.

A meticulous and entertaining account of not just the Romanova sisters, but their father, mother, and brother as well. This book was well-researched and entertaining, making for the greatest personal historical account I've ever read.

The book is thorough, and yet always stays interesting because of the personal, human perspective of this book. The author draws extensively on previously private diaries, letters, and witness...more
Melanie
All biographies are written in the context of history. The question facing a biographer - how to balance the lives of individual flesh-and-blood people with the events - is made even more difficult when the events were, to a degree, controlled by the people she is writing about.

What Helen Rappaport has achieved in The Romanov Sisters is a portrait of a family that could be any family, save for the exigencies of dynastic marriage, unimaginable wealth, and the paradigm-shattering events of the ear...more
Emma
I really enjoyed this! It was immensely readable--probably the best Romanov book I've read since Massie. Which is saying something! I did have a couple of structural issues. First of all, the book seems WAY more interested in Alexandra's character than really virtually any of the girls. And as her character is really the one around which their whole historical narrative pivots, I understand it--but I wanted a biography that really let the girls take the reins of the story, and this still didn't...more
Cheryl
Using information from diaries, letters, interviews, articles, archival and previously unpublished documents, Helen Rappaport presents a close up and intimate portrait of the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, the Tsarina Alexandra.

Much has been written about Nicholas and Alexandra, but until now, their daughters were only mentioned superficially. Rappaport’s meticulous research and engaging writing style allow the reader to feel a personal connection to the girls. Although they had di...more
Jenny Hilborne
Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport is an in-depth look into the private lives of the four daughters of the Russian Imperial Family, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia Romanov, plus, to a lesser extent, their brother Alexey. The book begins with their births and ends with their untimely demise, and also focuses on the complex bonds they each have with their mother Alexandra and their father Nicholas.

The author does a fantastic job of researching the Romanov family and, rather th...more
Lolly LKH
This was a very well written, tender historical non-fiction about the Romanov Sisters. The most touching thing of all is the love felt for them by the Tsar and Tsarina, Nicholas and Alexandra. The saddest truth about them (aside from their tragic end) is how they were never seen as vibrantly fascinating individuals. When they nursed soldiers, how sad the judgement passed on them as being 'common' and the act of caring for the severely wounded being distasteful. What greater example of any royal...more
Salena Moffat
Heartbreaking and achingly human. Drops you into the middle of the intimate (and heretofore virtually unknown) lives of the Romanov sisters. They can finally be seen as individual girls, with individual hopes and dreams that were never realized. The focus has always been on Anastasia, mainly because of the fraudulent claims of her survival. This is an injustice to all 4, perhaps especially to the very real Anastasia herself. Tatiana comes into her own in this splendid book, and watching Olga as...more
Simon
The basic problem is not with the writing, which is good, nor with the odd nugget of information (Grand Duke Dmitri's letter to Nicholas II is a very odd nugget indeed), but with the subject matter itself. To put it bluntly, the girls just aren't interesting enough in and of themselves to sustain a biography, and so Rappaport goes into some detail about Alexei (fair enough) and Nicholas and Alexandra --- but only insofar as their parents were understood by the girls. Which is to say, not at all....more
Celia
I enjoyed the book but I found the parts about the sisters’ early years a little bit slow. I learned allot about Alexandra which I did not know; both that she was close to Queen Victoria and that she had a lot of health problems and was somewhat eccentric.

I found the story of the princesses sad. To me they were the poor little rich girls. They led very restrictive lives because of worries about their security. They were in some ways overshadowed by their little brother Alexey. Their mother was s...more
Brian
The Romanov Sisters covers the life of the children of Nicholas II and Alexandra Romanov who were the last Czars of Russia. The book focuses on the four daughters but also covers the heir to the Throne Alexy. The four daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia were admired throughout their life and a media sensation when they traveled abroad. The family was reclusive due to the health of Alexandra and Alexy and the four daughters lived a surprisingly sheltered life up until their various house...more
Elena
"Father asks me to tell all who have remained loyal to him...that they should not avenge him, for he has forgiven everyone and prays for them all; that they should not themselves seek revenge; that they should remember that the evil that there now is in the world will become yet more powerful, and that it is not evil that will conquer evil – only love." ~Grand Duchess Olga Nicolaevna of Russia

Helen Rappaport's new biography of the four daughters of the last tsar and tsarina, Nicholas II and Emp...more
Michael Llewellyn
Having read many of the seemingly endless books on the Romanovs, I didn't have high hopes of learning anything new. I was pleasantly surprised, however, as the author drew from previously unpublished sources and shed new light on the four daughters of the last tsar, Nicholas II. Certainly the book covers the quotidian affairs of these young women but, because this period of Russian history was so turbulent, there's plenty else to keep things intriguing. I was almost relieved that Rappaport didn'...more
Tony Riches
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 t...more
Glorious.Clio
I knew this wasn't going to end well for the sisters. How could it? They are brutally massacred with their family at the end. And while Rappaport doesn't go into too much detail about their last hours, you know.

You know.

It's the Russian Revolution's worst kept secret.

This book is worth it, though. The sisters often get lumped together, or at the most, they are split into the "Big Pair and the Little Pair." Most people know Anastasia was the "imp" or "court jester" but I knew very little about...more
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Born in Bromley, England, Helen Rappaport studied Russian at Leeds University but
ill-advisedly rejected suggestions of a career in the Foreign Office and opted for the acting profession. After appearing on British TV and in films until the early 1990s she abandoned acting and embraced her second love - history and with it the insecurities of a writer’s life.

She started out contributing to biogra...more
More about Helen Rappaport...
The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert, and the Death That Changed the British Monarchy Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry Conspirator: Lenin in Exile Beautiful For Ever

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