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The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,221 Ratings  ·  1,126 Reviews
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kristin Scott Thomas, directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters)

Drawing from decades of work, travel, and research in Russia, Robert Alexander re-creates the tragic, perennially fascinating story of the final days of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov as seen through the eyes of their young kitchen boy, Leonka. Now an ancient
Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Published (first published 2003)
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Ana Valenzuela There is violence in the end, as it shares what had happened to the Romanovs. Yes, I think a young teenager can read it.
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Robert Alexander
Apr 08, 2008 Robert Alexander rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction
Hey, I wrote it, what am I supposed to say but I love it!
Mar 27, 2008 Adrianne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People love historical fictions and twisted endings, and have the stomach for the nastiness of war
For the first 170 pages, I felt like the Alexander was beating a dead horse by focusing on the same four points over and over again. 1)Leonka was the kitchen boy, 2)Although Tsar and Tsaritsa had many failings, they were good people that deeply loved their family and Russia, 3) The conditions the Romanovs were kept in were terrible with little hope of escape, and 4)Misha hated himself for how history unfolded. Seriously, I was sick of these points being described again and again. Yet, I didn't s ...more
Nikolai, Aleksandra, and their five children were the ultimate symbols, both good and bad, of all that was Russia...
3.5 stars. If like me, you know very little about the Romanov's, this is an excellent introduction. The author explains, while blending it in as part of the story, the politics and history. He also shows that bad rulers, can still be good people. And to top it off he manages to still add a lot of suspense to a story where everyone knows the ending.
Like all well-educated individuals, I first learned about the Romanovs from the animated movie Anastasia. I know you remember it. Don't deny it.

A Brief Father Cameo

A Sweet Romance Between Meg Ryan Anastasia and John Cusack Dimitri

You Want a Little Sass with that Romance? You Betcha!

I am still a kid at heart and still adore this movie for everything that it is (I fear that "accurate" is not something that it is). Unfortunately, this means that my obsession interest was based on LIES. Being aware
Mar 28, 2008 Leanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Alexander’s The Kitchen Boy is a fictionalized account of the Romanovs’ last days. Several historical records mention a kitchen boy working for Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra during their captivity in Yekaterinburg. These references inspired the novel.

Misha is the kitchen boy. In the late 1990s, he lives in the United States and has recently lost his wife. Before dying himself, he makes a tape for his granddaughter, explaining exactly what happened to the Romanovs on the days precedi
Jun 08, 2011 Camela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Loved it! I love historical fiction. I get to learn more about history AND I get a great story. This is one of those books. And even though I knew it was going to end very badly, I still wanted to see it through. I especially enjoyed getting immersed in the Russian psyche. (from first reading)

I'm excited to be sharing this book with a new book club. Yes, I enjoyed it that much.
May 19, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adorei, adorei e adorei!!!! :D


"The Kitchen Boy" relata os últimos dias dos Romanov, a última família imperial russa.

Foi o 2º livro que li de Robert Alexander e o 2º da sua autoria ao qual atribuí 5 estrelas! :)

A elevada classificação deve-se, em grande parte, ao meu gigante fascínio pela cultura russa, nomeadamente pelo tempo dos czares, com carinho especial para Nicolau II, devido à sua trágica história. Contudo, em tal classificação, também tive em conta a bri
I am demoting this book to two stars because after stewing for a couple of months, I've decided it annoys me.
The Kitchen Boy is not bad. The language of the narration is interesting. There is a stilted, halting, slightly awkward flow to the language which reminds me of how my husband (who lived in Russia until his mid-20s) would write in English. I'm not sure if Robert Alexander (a native English speaker) wrote like this on purpose or not. But in general I'm not very impressed with the style.

Sep 01, 2009 Rai rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It isn't clear to me what exactly the author of this book was hoping to accomplish when he wrote "The Kitchen Boy".
When starting it, I'd been under the impression that it was a ficion in some shape or form, but almost the whole way through I felt like I was reading a documentary on the Romanov family- a compilation of facts (some quite randome) and events that I already knew. And so I decided that Mr. Alexander's goal in writing this book, was merely to educate those who cared to know on the om
Jul 08, 2007 Alissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults interested in historical fiction
Having known neither anything about the Romanovs nor anything at all about Russian customs or the language, I found this book an excellent primer in those historical details many people are already familiar with. The way that the fiction is depicted within the well-researched, factual occurrences is well done, and very creative. At times, Alexander's writing style annoying, but thankfully there are many dry spells of this "ellipsical" habit. The end is pretty gory (as only the execution ...more
Katie Hutchison Irion
If I could I would give this a 3.5. I think it is worth reading. It is about the Romanov's last days before they were all brutally massacred. (I know, very uplifting.) I read this about a year ago and I still occasionally find myself thinking about what happened to Anastasia. You know, they never found her body. Creepy. Anyway, I was bothered that there was never an explanation of what was fiction and what was accurate. I don't like that. I like to know what parts I read are true and what parts ...more
I wanted to read this book for a long time before I finally picked it up. Now that I've read it I have mixed feelings about this story. I thought it was interesting, I liked the narrative and the perspective the author chose for his narrator, I also liked the twist at the end which gives a hopeful spin to the horrible events that really happened.

I've never read anything about the Romanovs before and this story made me want to learn more. So, while I was reading this I picked up 'Nicholas and Ale
Mar 21, 2009 Clare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Liz and Heather
Recommended to Clare by: I read a review of it somewhere.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 25, 2008 Sera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sera by: RG Book Club
I really loved this fictional account of the end of days for the Romanov family. Interwoven with real letters and other historical facts, the novel is about the young kitchen boy who worked for and supported the Romanov family while they were imprisoned by the Red Army. This book would be better read by those people who have some understanding of Nicholas II and his family prior to reading the book so as to be able to separate fact from fiction.

Alexander weaves a gripping tale of the events tha
Mar 13, 2009 Marcy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"One day he commands one-sixth of the world, the next he isn't even in charge of a single pane of glass." So starts the hypnotic, suspenseful tale of The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar. This tale is told through the eyes of the kitchen boy, who essentially became a part of Nicholas' family when they were imprisoned in the Ipatiev House in Siberia. He witnessed the deaths of the Tsar's family and felt responsible throughout his life for their deaths. Leonka, the kitchen boy, escapes Russia ...more
Isabeau (Just Keep Reading)

Although I understand it's supposed to be fiction, some historical inaccuracies bothered me too much to give this book a full five stars. That being said, I immensely enjoyed it. Also, the plot twist at the end? Just, what? Totally did not see that one coming. It's pretty much how you wish the story had gone. The Romanovs have fascinated me for years, and it was interesting to see Alexander's take on their last months of captivity.
Narrated by Leonka, the kitchen boy, this is the story - part fact, part fiction - of the Romanovs last month. Using some of their real-life letters, notes and diary entries, and with storytelling that incorporates both haunting factual detail and suspenseful dramatic fiction, it’s a desperately sad but equally fascinating page turner. A riveting read.

Linda C
Aug 08, 2014 Linda C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
94 year old Mikhail Semyonov has laid out a detailed will and set of instructions for his granddaughter upon his death. Then he records the story of his life the month before the murder of the Romanov royal family in 1918, when he was the kitchen boy in the house where they were imprisoned. He claims to really be Leonid "Leonka" Sednyov, 14 at the time and witness to the actual events. He has collected documents over the years that support this and now in 1998 with the end of Communism and the f ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Nikoline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Romanov fans
Recommended to Nikoline by: book club
For a long time I have been very fascinated by the last tsar-family, the Romanovs. Much of the tragic is still a mystery with no eyewitnesses, and of course The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander is fiction, a lot of it is build on actual facts, letters and theories. It is a delightful read that gives the audience and the ignorant an idea of how the the Romanov-family lived and loved each other so dearly that it broke my heart to read the end even though I did know what wa ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 06, 2010 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Kitchen Boy is an alternate history that explores the final days and the deaths of the Romanovs. Alexander’s use of historical material in the form of letters gives it authenticity despite its fictionalization and speculative conclusion. I have read plenty about the Romanovs to consider myself an aficionado, but it was the perspective of the kitchen boy, Leonka that made this so engaging. It gave an insider point of view that was refreshing after reading so much non-fiction on the subject an ...more
Regina Lindsey
Every once in a while you start a book that once you begin approaching the final chapters depression sets in because you know the experience is about to end. This was one of them for me.

Written well before the final two Romanov children's bodies were found, Alexander takes what was once one of the best historical mysteries and brilliantly

weaves a tale about how the secret communications surrounding a possible rescue attempt of the Czar and his family from the Ipatiev house might have occure
Jan 05, 2011 kari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star, 2011
The story of the last Tsar of Russia and his family as seen through the eyes of one of their servants, the kitchen boy, Leonka. The details of the daily life, the hopes and fears the family endured in their last days, are played out with warmth and sympahty. The Tsar is portrayed as a loving family man and the portrait created of him and the Tsaritsa and their children is beautifully drawn.
It's written in such a way that you can feel the tension getting worse as the end nears and you'll be draw
This was a great book. A well-wrought story, beautifully realized, and exceptionally well told. It is also a fascinating narrative trick to take a story (the last days of the Romanovs) with a known ending, and create all the suspense in the matter of how that particular ending comes about. In this novel, of course, the missing graves of two of the children have given rise to rampant historical speculation and grandiose what if dramas. But Alexander spins truths and half truths and flight of inve ...more
Sep 12, 2015 Christie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From page 1 to page 229, I was drawn into this historical fiction novel, so much so, that it genuinely seemed to be a recounting of historical events as they happened. The author does a superb job of creating a tale of mystery and suspense with all of the pieces of the puzzle not coming together until the very last paragraph of the book. Historical documents are reproduced and referenced, thus adding more credibility to this work of fiction. There is also an extensive list of reference material ...more
Becki Kula Hildrew
I was really excited to read this book as I have always been interested in learning more about the Romanovs and this was a fictionalized first hand account of the last days of the family. Perfect. However, the first half of it was super slow and ridiculously repetitive. Often phrases were written out in Russian, than immediately translated. At first this was really interesting but than became a little much. Started to seem like merely a way to bump the length/word count. I wanted to give up but ...more
Lucy March
Oct 21, 2015 Lucy March rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

I adore this book.

THIS is what Historical Fiction should be like, sticking to the facts EXCEPT for the hook/twist, whether it be a "what if" or a surprise ending.

And MAN did this book have a killer ending! It was shocking and wonderful and dazzling and dark and so great because you NEVER see it coming.

At least, I sure didn't!

This book is one of the best books based on the Romanov History I have ever encountered. It's just flat out amazing.
Wow! I just now finished the book. An extremely deep and rich story! Superbly written! This book captured my interest from the beginning! So much of it is true history and covers the short time span that is rest of the Tsar's life. His and his family and what it was like for them the last month or so of their lives. The story is told thru the eyes of the 'Kitchen Boy'. Many moments are very riveting and you're eyes will want to rush ahead thru the text. Resist, read each word, savor the story.

Melissa Lee
Jan 01, 2014 Melissa Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Kitchen Boy plays on the age-old mystery of the missing bodies in Tsar Nicholas II's family. It starts with Leonka, the kitchen boy who was instrumental in helping the family's conspirators escape from certain death. We all know that they didn't, so what happened in between? What happened to the two children? Are they still alive?

The book tries to tackle some of these questions, and the author does a pretty decent job of trying to construct a story of what might have been. It is a little sho
Patti Tome
I almost gave it four stars but I don't want to let my mild obsession of this part of Russian history interfere with an objective opinion of this novel. After all, this is a novel... but I liked that it included the actual letters and correspondence of the last Tsar and his family.
Fast paced and suspenseful with a twist at the end.
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Robert Alexander is the author of the bestselling novels Rasputin's Daughter, The Kitchen Boy, and the forthcoming The Romanov Bride. He has spent over thirty years traveling to Russia, where he has studied and also worked for the U.S. government. He speaks frequently to book clubs, and the schedule for his live video webcasts can be found at his website:
More about Robert Alexander...

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“You see, my love. As you've always said, after the rain-"
After the darkness-"
And after the illness-"
Exactly," said the Tsar. "We mustn't give up faith.”
“On the other hand, he was compassionate because he knew pain, real pain, and real suffering too. Yet even in those bouts when it looked for sure as if he would die, he was never given morphine, not even as his screams of pain rattled the palace windows. That poor child had traveled to the bottom of life and back again, and naturally that had had a profound effect on him.” 5 likes
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