The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar
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The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  7,265 ratings  ·  965 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...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published January 27th 2004 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2003)
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Best Historical Fiction
369th out of 4,143 books — 17,569 voters
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Historical Fiction: Russia
9th out of 131 books — 228 voters


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Community Reviews

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Adrianne
Mar 27, 2008 Adrianne rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Leanna
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...more
Robert Alexander
Apr 08, 2008 Robert Alexander rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: historical fiction
Hey, I wrote it, what am I supposed to say but I love it!
Camela
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.
Carol
Adorei, adorei e adorei!!!! :D

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"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...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
Barb
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...more
Audrey
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.

I...more
Clare
Mar 21, 2009 Clare rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
Sera
May 25, 2008 Sera rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
Marcy
"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
Alissa
Jul 08, 2007 Alissa rated it 4 of 5 stars
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 is....is annoying, but thankfully there are many dry spells of this "ellipsical" habit. The end is pretty gory (as only the execution...more
Linda C
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
Anne Nikoline
Jul 06, 2012 Anne Nikoline rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Romanov fans
Recommended to Anne 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
Megan Marie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie
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
kari
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...more
Joanna
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
Rai
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...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
Janice
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.

I...more
Melissa Lee
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...more
R.
This book was fairly popular a few years back and I just finally got around to reading it. I have always been slightly enthralled by Russian culture and this book provided an easy read centered on the Romanov family's last days. The bulk of the book provides a detailed and sympathetic account of the families last days imprisoned in Siberia. The last part of the book is the true "historical-fiction" part that weaves an interesting and surprising twist on the fairly straight forward plot. While th...more
Anne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hirondelle
What is the truth in fiction, in history and in historical fiction? This book made me think of it.

Something unusual but which I liked a lot in this book was the sense of research, the main narrator besides drawing on his personal experience also has a lifetime of researching those events and people he knew and drawing that into the narrative. I enjoyed that particularly specially how it is worked into the plot.

It took me quite a bit to actually finish this book, the problem was not that it was...more
Paitsgreekgirl
This is a book about the Romanov family and how they were executed. Even though I knew what happened to them the story took me by surprise. The first half of the book dragged a little bit but the second half I didn't want to put the book down. I've always been a fan of historical fiction and been fascinated with Russia's past ever since I saw Dr. Zhivago when I was a young girl.
Mara
Nov 15, 2007 Mara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction Lovers
This little book packed a powerful punch! The author built an amazing tale from the mystery surrounding the execution of Tsar Nikolai, the last Tsar of Russia, and his family. Extremely suspenseful, ominous, and mysterious through to the last page. Particularly impressive considering the bulk of the story took place within limited space (a house in Siberia), time (approximately 2 weeks), with limited action (the family was under house arrest), and a known ending (telling you they are executed do...more
Karen
229 pages of the imprisonment and execution of Tsar Nicholas and his family. You won't want to put it down. Even though it is a novel based on facts...it is a gripping, entirely believable description of the last days of the Romanovs. Rumors are still flying as to what really happened to them. Had Queen Victoria still been alive..its doubtful WWI would have happened or the Tsar and his family executed. Tsarina Alexandra was Queen Victoria granddaughter. Tsar Nicholas was also the nephew of Queen...more
Sue Ellen
Interesting, fast-paced, historically accurate tale told by a fictitious "kitchen boy" in the house where Tsar Nicholas's family was held in the months before their execution. The frame story - the "kitchen boy" is narrating his memories of the events years later - cleverly provides some opportunities for plot twists - so much so, in fact, that when I finished, I went back and read it again to see if I could spy any hints. The intimate portrait of the tsar's family life is touching and accurate...more
Caren
Another book recommended to me by my colleague, Rob, this is a fictionalized account of the last weeks of the Romanov family in Russia before their murder by the Bolsheviks. There are some plot twists at the end that are based on the fact that the last two bodies had not yet been discovered at the time the book was written. Rob also told me about an article dealing with the discovery of the last bodies:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-...
All in all, this was an interesting read.
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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: http://www.robertalexanderbooks.com
More about Robert Alexander...
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“You see, my love. As you've always said, after the rain-"
Sun."
After the darkness-"
Light."
And after the illness-"
Health."
Exactly," said the Tsar. "We mustn't give up faith.”
8 likes
“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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