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The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution

(The Russian Imperial Family: In Their Own Words)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  362 ratings  ·  53 reviews
In August 1914, Russia entered the First World War, and with it, the Imperial family of Tsar Nicholas II was thrust into a conflict from which they would not emerge. His eldest child, Olga Nikolaevna, great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, had begun a diary in 1905 when she was 10 years old and kept writing her thoughts and impressions of day-to-day life as a Grand Duchess ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Westholme (Pen & Sword Books) (first published July 30th 2013)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The five stars are really for the execution of the book as opposed to the actual content of Olga's diaries and letters. Azar provides a vivid translation of the girl's diary entries that gives you a strong sense as to how Olga actually expressed herself, peppering them and her letters with mild (and occasionally funny) slang. It also conveys a better idea of how close Tatiana and Olga were as a pair, as opposed to the usual OTMA assemblage (and incidentally, is there evidence that the four girls ...more
May 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
Had tea. Had lunch. Like a very bad twitter feed from the last days of the Russian Court.
3.5 Stars.
Nov 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biography, history
As this was the first of the diaries of the Imperial Daughters to be translated into English and published, I really looked forward to reading it. However, I was greatly disappointed in the book as a whole. The essays at the beginning about Olga’s childhood and the discovery of the Romanov remains were actually the best, most coherent portions of the book. Even then the writing seems more Young Adult in tone and style then being geared for historians or adults. When you get to the actual diary e ...more
Carole P. Roman
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
A slice of life of the Russian court told from the perspective of Tzar Nicholas's oldest daughter, Olga. Sometimes giddy, at other times grounded in the stark realities of the first world war, it is a firsthand account in the form of a diary that outlines her day to day life and the impact of her changing world. Sweetly innocent, and charmingly devoted to her family, it's an insider's look into the everyday details, filled with Olga's warmth. Seemingly unaffected by her title, yet understanding ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finished it on her 124th birthday, which I was hoping to do. A teeeny bit misleading as Olga stopped writing in 1917 but the supplementary material ties in very well and smoothes over some of the gaps in time. It’s funny even reading how this book reads differently, compared to Maria’s 1914 diary which I read last week (or possibly the week before) as the girls’ individual voices shine through. A beautiful and moving portrait of Olga Romanov. I was so happy to be able to read some of her own wor ...more
This diary and some letters of a member of the Russian imperial family is well edited and annotated, and the introduction is excellent. I commend Azar for curating the material so well and I'm glad it's been translated into English for the first time. This slim book will add to the sum of scholarly research on imperial Russia.

I found some of the excerpts of letters quite intriguing when the subject matter was the events around the country, or serious conversations with wounded soldiers, or conce
Amanda Edwards
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this account of the Russian Revolution from the eyes of an innocent caught in the middle. The Grand Duchess,Olga Nicholavena Romanov, oldest daughter of Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia, is shown to be a strong, caring, yet naive. She knows nothing out side of her fishbowl life. She knows only of living in palaces and castles, sleeping on monogrammed sheets, eating gourmet meals, and yet, sleeping on an army cot every night and taking only cold showers. She sees the war fro ...more
Author Helen Azar is a librarian in Philadelphia who has worked at the Rare Book Foundation at the Museum of Tsarskoe Selo in Russia. She has compiled a translation of diary entries of Olga Romanov, the eldest daughter of Nicholas II. The translations encompass the years 1914-1918. Although Olga’s entries stop in March of 1917, entries from other diaries—namely those of Czar Nicholas II and Alexander Kerensky are also included along with letters written by friends and relatives of the royal fami ...more
Mar 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: russia, non-fiction
Probably not the best book to start with if you want to learn about the Romanovs, but for those with an interest in the family it provides valuable background. Yes, the diary entries are simple and repetitive but display a genuine love for her father and family and give an idea of what life was like for the Russian Royal family.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
It was good! I really enjoyed it, but I felt like her diary didn't quite show the whole of herself - the memoirs from others that knew her show quite a different side to her, I thought. Anyway, it was cool, even though they died... :( It kind of gives you this weird feeling - reading the diary entries of someone who's about to die.
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Most of this book is Grand Duchess Olga's actual diary entries, and while they're mostly boring everyday entries about things she did that day, they're oddly compelling. She truly had no idea of the turmoil going on around her. There are also letters to her father while he was at the front during WWI. Again, kind of boring, but they show how deluded the royal family was. Very interesting book.
Lin S.
Dec 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
Not worth the effort to translate. I have always had a avid interest in her family was very disappointed in what was written. She mostly visited family members and wrote sugary letters to her father.
A glimpse into a sheltered life filled with family, devotion, duty and such promise. If anything, these diary entries and, especially, letters between Olga and her father shed light on how tragically misunderstood this particular family was in the eyes of the Russian people. So many if only's ...
Helen Azar
Apr 13, 2013 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Here is a wonderful video for the book that my friend Anne Lloyd, a Philadelphia based Romanov artist made. ...more
Mary Chambers
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a great way to read about the Romanovs.
Rachel Jackson
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the last entries in this book of diaries, written not by Olga Romanova but her father, former Tsar Nicholas II, strikes an ominous tone. It reads: "The external relations have also changed in the past few weeks: the jailers are trying not to talk to us, as if they feel guilty, and it feels like they have some anxiety or are afraid of something. Confusing!"

Anyone familiar with the history of the Romanovs knows that that ominous, foreboding tone in that quote means that their end is near, b
Mary Dempsey (BigonBooks)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this very interesting. Loved that is was a mixture of Olga's diary, the Tsars diary, memoirs of friends and family, and letter to friends and family. Perfect for those who have like to read about the Romanovs.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting and gives a glimpse of what Olga's life was but absolutely pointless, I don't think her diaries should have been published as they bring nothing new about the Tsar family life, the war or the revolution.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, russia
Olga's diary entries are spare in their detail, but it was still fascinating to have a bit of a glimpse into her daily life.
Tom Durbin
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excelent viewpoint of WWI and the Russian Revolution. You can really get a sense of her emotions throughout.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great insight into the lives of the Romanovs
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Cool to get insight into the personal lives of the Romanovs.
After reading a couple of books on the Romanov daughters I figured that this book would hopefully give a bit more insight into the life of the oldest Romanov daughter. The book started out well with Olga describing everyday life both in her diary and in letters to her father. Some find this boring, I think that's mainly because the concept of keeping a diary is different today than it was back then. I'm guessing back then a diary was more a record of daily events and occurrences, while today a d ...more
Nov 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Not sure I'm going to finish this. It's very convenient to have this information in English but the book includes less than 50% of Olga's letters and diary entries from Августейшие Сестры Милосердия which seems to have been the main source. It's also full of gaps. Sometimes weeks and months pass between entries. Nothing in the Amazon description says this is a book of excerpts instead of Olga's full diary.

I said in my review of Azar's Romanov ebook that I would be irritated if the entries from
Laura LeAnn
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Having been intrigued by Russian history for several years now, when I first picked up this book, I thought it would be more narrative in style, using the diary of Olga, oldest daughter of Nicholas II and Alexandra Romanov, to tell the story of what happened to the imperial family. Yet, this was simply, as described in the overleaf of the book, the diary of Olga, translated into English. In addition to the diary of Olga, there are also translations of letters Olga wrote to other friends and fami ...more
Ann Woodbury Moore
Jan 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, his wife Alexandra and their five children, the last of the Romanovs, are a fascinating character study. I've been intrigued with them ever since I read Robert Massie's influential tome "Nicholas and Alexandra" in high school. Earlier this fall, I read "The Romanov Sisters" by Helen Rappaport, a British historian. When I saw "The Diary of Olga Romanov" (the oldest sister) on the new book shelves, I picked it up. Unfortunately, Olga and her father (who is quoted extens ...more
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-my-shelf
After approximately seven years of fascination with this family, I found it hard to believe I could finally have a personal look into their lives via their diaries.

I've seen the Faberge eggs made for them up close and personal, I've looked at hundreds of photographs, but I've never felt so involved before.

Of course, the entries are repetitive and sometimes dull, but who can complain when you're reading the diary of Olga Romanov? Helen Azar did a wonderful job of compilation, and translating the
Dec 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Olga Romanova was only 22 years old when her life was snuffed out along with her entire family by Bolsheviks in the bloody aftermath of the Russian Revolution. As a daughter of Tsar Nicholas II she really never got to experience her own life and sadly her death was a result of what family she belonged to not who she was as well. This book is based on her diaries, and some of her letters as well as some other letters and diaries of contemporaries (most notably her father) to help round out her st ...more
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Helen Azar has been interested in history of the Romanov Dynasty for many years, ever since she became fascinated with the saga of the human remains discovered outside Ekaterinburg in the 1990s, which were proven to be those of Russia’s murdered imperial family. The subsequent controversy about these bones, and Helen’s science background (she studied biochemistry), moved her to co-author several a ...more

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The Russian Imperial Family: In Their Own Words (6 books)
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  • MARIA and ANASTASIA: The Youngest Romanov Grand Duchesses In Their Own Words (The Russian Imperial Family: In Their Own Words Book 2)
  • Journal of a Russian Grand Duchess: Complete Annotated 1913 Diary of Olga Romanov, Eldest Daughter of the Last Tsar
  • Tatiana Romanov, Daughter of the Last Tsar: Diaries and Letters, 1913–1918
  • 1913 Diary of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna: Complete Tercentennial Journal of the Third Daughter of the Last Tsar (The Romanovs in Their Own Words Book 6)

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“[Olga's dreams of happiness:] Get married, always live in the countryside winter and summer, see only good people, no one official.” 4 likes
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