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The Kitchen Boy

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  11,209 Ratings  ·  1,282 Reviews
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 as seen through the eyes of the Romanovs' young kitchen boy, Leonka. Now an ancient Russian immigrant, Leonka claims to be the last living witness to the Romanovs' brutal murders and sets down the da ...more
Library Binding, 240 pages
Published May 28th 2008 (first published 2003)
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Tom Darrow Depends on the teen. The language is easy enough for a teenager to comprehend, although it jumps back and forth between Russian phrases and their…moreDepends on the teen. The language is easy enough for a teenager to comprehend, although it jumps back and forth between Russian phrases and their English translations, which might confuse some.

On the subject of content, the murder scene is somewhat graphic, although not graphic just for the sake of being graphic. Also, there are a few things that the guards do to the bodies (particularly the female ones) that parents might object to.

As with most things like this, parents should do some research and have a conversation with their kids about the content.(less)
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Robert Alexander
Mar 20, 2008 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!
In America lives an old man with a guilty secret. He calls himself Mikhael Semyonov, and he starts recording into a tape recorder. He states: “What I wish to confess is that I was the kitchen boy in the Ipatiev House where the Tsar and Tsaritsa, Nikolai and Aleksandra, were imprisoned.” (This appears at the start of the first chapter, so is not a spoiler.)

What follows is a long account of how the kitchen boy, Leonka, was present in the house as the ladies sewed large numbers of diamonds into the
Mar 14, 2008 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
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
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.
Mar 28, 2008 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
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.

Angela Watts
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was assigned this book for school; my Ma hadn't read it, just bought it offline. It went with our last year's study of Russia, and the Romanov family. Granted, of course, we learned plenty and read books on the time line, learned about Russia, saw the anger and the mobs during that bad time, etc.
But no book brought to life just how tragic and serious that time of history was like this fictional novel. Not for me.
I was never interested much in the history of Russia. I'd started reading the L
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-my-shelves
Mesmo antes de conhecer a história dos Romanov, eu já nutria por eles alguma simpatia, é uma daquelas coisas que não fazem sentido. E ao ler este livro, percebi que tinha algum fundamento. É impossível não nos colocarmos no lugar do Nicolau e da Alexandra e sentir uma tristeza enorme por aquilo que lhes fizeram, a eles e aos seus filhos. Gostei muito deste livro porque, apesar de ser uma história ficcionada, traz-nos muitos factos verídicos sobre a família e o que lhe aconteceu. Não sei se eles ...more
Jeanette Lewis
The story of the last Romanov Tsar, Nicholas II and his brutal murder, the family and their staff has been one of conspiracy theories, mystery and fantasy. The connections to Queen Victoria, “Queen of Europe” and the royal interbred European royal dynasties were all part of the same fantasy. An old man relates his part in the lives of the Romanovs when they were prisoners. His misgivings of lies told over a lifetime weigh heavily on him and the last lie is revealed finally only by his lack of go ...more
Oct 20, 2009 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.
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, lit-fiction
Excellent historical novel about the final days of the last Tsar of Russia and his family. A plot that makes you want to keep reading, with a great twist at the end.
The simplistic writing style seems to be the norm for historical-fiction nowadays and maybe it's to ensure the writing doesn't get in the way of the premise but the impact can be construed as patronising at times. Anyway, I am scooting through this and am just at the point where Nicholas reads The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which he considers useful, and the point is made that he never gets to realise that it was a hoax of colossal obnoxiousness.

Another thought that could be worth discuss
Jul 05, 2008 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
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5, usa
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
Bex 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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 13, 2007 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
Isabeau's Literary Musings

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.

Desde que em tenra idade vi o desenho animado "Anastásia" fiquei fascinada pela trágica história desta família. Por isso mesmo, foi com entusiasmo que iniciei esta leitura que, apesar de ficcionada, certamente teria muito para me ensinar sobre o cativeiro dos Romanov. Foi uma leitura interessante, contudo tenho de admitir que, para mim, a imaginação do autor foi longe demais relativamente ao final que ficou demasiado fantasioso. Não fosse essa tentativa do autor de dar um final feliz ao livro, e ...more
Joe Krakovsky
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ok, so it was about history that you can read in any book, right? Wrong! Knowing what eventually happened as hinted at in the book, I switched over to Wikipedia for a little more background to the story, you know, to fill in the blanks. Oh, there were plenty of details concerning those mass murdering Reds all right. Something that somebody should have pointed out to my fellow students back in '72 who thought that Communists were cool dudes. You see, that must have been what the Tsar and his fam ...more
Maria Burnham
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is a captivating story of the execution of the last Tsar in Russia (and his family) during the Bolshevik Revolution. The story, of course, is from the perspective of the family's kitchen boy during the days in captivity prior to the execution.

The writing of the novel is beautiful. It's a short book, too, so the descriptions are concise, yet detailed. However, I held back on giving it 5 stars because the first part is a little tedious. I understand the background is necessary, but I j
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Há já algum tempo que tinha muita curiosidade neste livro, quer por se focar nos últimos dias dos Romanov, mas também por ter visto opiniões muito positivas.
Robert Alexander focou-se na última entrada do diário da Czarina Alexandra, onde é mencionado que o jovem ajudante de cozinha - Leonka - foi levado pelos bolcheviques. Assim, o autor baseou-se na possibilidade de o jovem Leonka ser o único sobrevivente que sabe o que se passou ao certo com a família Romanov.
Sim, é um romance de ficção e como
After Misha’s wife dies, he feels it’s his time soon and records his memories about what happened in 1918 and leaves the tape to his granddaughter Kate.

Misha, or Leonka as he was called, went into captivity with the Romanov family and worked as their kitchen boy. He becomes involved in the family’s escape plans and comes to care for the family. The same day that the Romanovs are executed, Leonka is removed from the family but manages to escape. He runs back to the house and sees what happened t
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
The novel establishes itself as a memoir being told by a servant of the Romanov family. He says he was their kitchen boy during those fateful last days in Siberia, up until the Tsar and his family were brutally murdered.

I admit, the first half of the book was a little slow for me, but it did pick up as the family attempted to send and receive messages from the outside in an attempt at rescue. Knowing what would happen to those children, made my heart ache as the Romanovs were roused from their b
Dec 21, 2008 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.
Dec 02, 2007 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
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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.” 6 likes
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