Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Lost Crown

Rate this book
Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand--first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand duchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together--sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht. But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia.

As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined.

At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, this novel by acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion.

448 pages, Hardcover

First published June 14, 2011

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Sarah Miller

8 books713 followers
Sarah Miller began writing her first novel at the age of ten, and has spent the last two decades working in libraries and bookstores. She is the author of two previous historical novels, Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller, and The Lost Crown. Her nonfiction debut, The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, was hailed by the New York Times as "a historical version of Law & Order." She lives in Michigan.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
613 (31%)
4 stars
647 (33%)
3 stars
467 (24%)
2 stars
154 (7%)
1 star
62 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 318 reviews
Profile Image for Laura Mabee.
1 review2 followers
January 9, 2019
As an avid Romanov reader, I never liked Romanov fiction.

Many people have tried over and over to capture the Romanovs in fiction, but nobody really managed to capture the Romanovs. The Romanovs were real people who had faults, eccentricities and virtues. Rarely in fiction is the real history taken into consideration when writing.

Ms. Miller has put years of research and dedication into the Romanovs and it shows. Sarah Miller's book captures the Romanovs and I believe The Lost Crown has indeed set the bar for future Romanov fiction.
Profile Image for Sarah.
237 reviews1,114 followers
July 18, 2018
Russia, 1914

Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanova are the closest of sisters. As the daughters of Tsar Nicolas II and his empress Alexandra, they are fluent in three languages, have lots of gorgeous clothes, and get to spend their summers hanging out on their father’s massive yacht with cute young naval officers.

But those officers are strictly off-limits for anything more than minor flirtations. The sisters’ mother keeps them isolated from the decadent Russian court—they have no friends their own age. Papa is doting but usually preoccupied with matters of state. Mama’s focus is mostly on the girls’ brother Alexei, a hemophiliac who wants nothing more than to run around like other boys but is in danger of dying every time he scrapes his knee.

The only other members of this tiny circle are the servants—doctors, Mama’s maids, the kids’ tutors, Alexei’s sailor nanny—and Mama’s dearest companion, the priest Grigori Rasputin. Alexandra believes absolutely that Rasputin is chosen by God and has healed Alexei during some of the boy’s worst hemophilia flare-ups. Most of her children follow her lead. Only Olga, the eldest and most perceptive, wonders if there’s anything off about Rasputin…

Then the assassination of a distant relation throws all Europe, and eventually the world, into turmoil. The Tsar must reluctantly lead an angry populace into battle against Germany. The Tsarina is German, and agitators stir resentment against her.

The four sisters join the war effort. Olga and Tatiana become nurses to tend wounded soldiers. Maria and Anastasia are considered too young for this duty, but they show up to cheer the men with socialization and antics. Even as they find friends and crushes among the soldiers, they’re dismayed to hear the whispers about their mom. Gossip claims that Rasputin and Alexandra are lovers, that Rasputin has molested the girls themselves, that Rasputin is the power behind Nicolas and the real Tsar, that Rasputin might well be the Antichrist. That while the Emperor leads his troops against Germany, the empire he left behind is falling apart.

Rasputin is murdered, but his death does nothing to ease the tension. The girls learn that their father has been forced by Russian insurrectionists to abdicate the throne on behalf of himself and Alexei, and the line of Tsars, stretching back to the coronation of Ivan the Terrible in 1533, is broken. From there, the family is moved from one house arrest to another, enduring more degradation and cruelty at each successive location…All they have left is each other.

Content Advisory
Violence: Nothing to speak of in the main body of the novel, except the (not terribly detailed) account of Rasputin’s death that Olga and Tatiana hear.

The epilogue, however, gives a fairly detailed account of each family member’s demise and an overview of how the bodies were desecrated after.

Sex: Anastasia and some of the officers on the Standardt prank Olga with a photograph of Michelangelo’s David with the head of one of her foreign suitors pasted over the head of the statue. Tatiana is Very Offended, but everyone else present gets a good laugh.

Olga is aware of the tension between herself and a wounded soldier but resigns herself to never resolving it.

Maria is a terrible flirt. She has a moment alone with a young guard at the Ipatiev House that gets misinterpreted by everyone, including her family. From the perspective of the book, nothing racy happened between them.

The more virulently Leninist and/or anti-German guards draw lewd graffiti on the bathroom walls to humiliate Alexandra and the girls. These pictures are never described in any detail. Many of the guards bring in prostitutes and town women every night, and the family can hear them carousing through the walls.

Language: Nothing.

Substance Abuse: The guards at Ipatiev House are usually plastered and rowdy. The epilogue mentions that the guards got themselves more drunk than usual in order to carry out the execution, and their inebriation contributed to the drawing out and the sadism of the event.

Nightmare Fuel: Nothing in the novel itself. The epilogue skims the worst horrors of the assassinations and “burial” but there’s enough in there to haunt the very young or sensitive reader.

I first read The Lost Crown while sick in bed, ninety-nine years since the outbreak of WWI. I’m rereading it now on the 100th anniversary of the Romanovs’ assassinations. The first time, I read it in a single day. This time I made sure to read more slowly and caught a lot of details that I missed the first time around.

This book is written is first-person present-tense, from the perspectives of each of the sisters. I know I complain about first-person present-tense fairly often, because a) every other YA book uses it and b) it doesn’t allow for the narrator (and by proxy, the reader) to step away from the narrative every so often and reevaluate things. It’s also an immersive style, and many of the dystopias and magical kingdoms in today’s trendy books are too shallow to be comfortably immersed in.

But in historical fiction, first-person present-tense narration can be extremely effective, especially when the author does their homework. It’s a painless way to absorb all the sensory details of the setting without dragging down the story’s momentum. It also avoids the stuffy dialogue associated with some time periods by jumping directly into the head of the protagonist(s). To use a cliché, it makes you feel like you’re there. H.M. Castor pulled it off in VIII with an unreliable narrator. Sarah Miller pulls it off here with four reliable narrators…

…and those characterizations are equally impressive. The girls are so close that they can seem like quadrants of a single being—Olga is the bright and sensitive spirit; Tatiana is the subtle but steely backbone; Anastasia is the vibrant and detached mind; and Maria is the gentle, enduring heart. Yet as the book progresses, one can tell which of the girls is speaking without even referring to the name and portrait at the start of each chapter. They all notice and emphasize different aspects of their lives, and employ the metaphors that match their personalities. By the end of the book they’ve all grappled and made peace with the present situation.

Olga is probably the most complex of the sisters. She can be moody and sullen, and she doesn’t think she’s all that smart. She’s a lot more perceptive than she gives herself credit for, observing quietly, just storing up information for when it’s needed. She’s also a remarkably disciplined person—for instance, when she falls for one of the wounded young men in the lazaret, she knows she can never marry him, and hides her feelings away in a safe corner of her mind, where she can look upon them without being overwhelmed. Her close relationship with her dad is especially poignant.

Tatiana’s perspective says a lot about her by how little it says about her. Here’s a young woman who pours so much energy into helping the people around her, be they wounded soldiers, her perpetually unwell little brother, or her hypochondriac mom, that she scarcely has a thought to spare for herself. The way she takes care of her mother is admirable; if only it were reciprocal. While the book leaves no doubt that Alexandra loved her daughters, it also appears that she was so absorbed in guilt over Alexei’s condition (hemophilia manifests in the male line but is carried by the female), and spiritual codependence on Rasputin, that she wasn’t emotionally present for her four girls at a time in their lives when they could have really used maternal guidance.

Alexei’s nickname may have been Sunbeam, but the real source of sunshine in the family was clearly Maria. She emerges from the pages as a sweet, well-adjusted, happy kid. She still has flaws, certainly—mostly that she’s boy-crazy and a little too trusting. Maria narrates the first chapter, a smart choice on Miller’s part, because with Mashka’s personality, she seems to put a friendly arm around the reader and pull them into the story with a familiarity that her rather standoffish sisters probably couldn’t manage. She’s pretty and hyper-feminine, but so tall and strong that she can lift grown men off the floor with her bear hugs. She wants twenty kids, but is strongly implied to be the one daughter whom forensic science has confirmed to carry the hemophilia gene.

Anastasia’s voice is the most modern. She has Olga’s moodiness combined with a hyperactivity all her own. Some of her antics can be dangerous, some of her witticisms can sting, and in both cases she’s a bit slow to figure out why everyone else was scared, offended, or hurt. But this is not a mean kid at all—just a clown who will say pretty much anything to get a laugh. She feels a bit adrift and overlooked in her own family—not old enough to be useful like the two eldest sisters, yet not sweet and cuddly like Maria or the designated center of the universe like Alexei. I never really caught this about her before, but it seemed obvious now that her pranks, wisecracks, theatrical productions starring the family dogs, etc. were simply desperation for someone to pay attention to her for five minutes. That would explain why she seemed so much younger than her years, and was still dreaming of war and safari adventures at an age when Maria was slobbering over the existence of soldiers. Anastasia’s most touching relationship is with Alexei. It almost seems that, when she enjoyed charging around the palace or flying off the swing in the compound yard, she was allowing him to experience it through her.

The format and focus of the book can’t help but make Nicolas, Alexandra, and Alexei more distant figures compared to OTMA, but the whole family was so tightly knit that we still get to know them pretty well. The Tsar and Tsarina are shown here to be loving parents, but preoccupied with their son at their daughters’ expense, both because of his status as heir and his sickly condition. We also get a feeling for Alexei himself. The poor lad was just stuffed with rambunctious energy that he couldn’t let loose. He wanted to climb trees and slide down banisters and roll down snowy hills like his sister Anastasia, but he couldn’t do any of this without being closely watched and risking life-threatening injury. No wonder he was obsessed with toy soldiers.

The book doesn’t even bother trying to make sense of Rasputin, who dies in the first half. The three younger kids accept him unconditionally because he’s Mama’s dear friend, and Tatiana, who imitates her mother even as she parents her, honestly believes that the man is holy. Only Olga notices the strangeness of “Otets Grigori” and concludes that hundreds of foul rumors can’t all be false. While she knows that there’s nothing untoward about his relationship with herself or her siblings, and does not believe that he’s having an affair with her mother, she does seriously ponder other tales of his drunken debauchery and schemes for power. She’s both horrified and relieved when the man is assassinated. The novel takes no stand on how Rasputin eased Alexei’s pain, although many possibilities are briefly acknowledged in the historical notes at the end. That’s probably not information that the girls would have been privy to anyway.

As you can imagine, the whole book is pervaded with a sense of loss and dread, but the bond between the sisters prevents it from ever becoming too dark. There’s even an entertaining bit of black comedy (pgs. 200 – 201) wherein Anastasia is puzzled by a history lesson about three imposters who claimed to be Dmitri of Uglich, a son of Ivan the Terrible who died under mysterious circumstances at age eight. How, she wonders, could anyone who had known Dmitri be taken in by these men? It really bothers her.

Palpatine Ironic

Alanis Ironic

(I like to think that Anastasia would have appreciated memes).

My one gripe with the book is the brevity of the historical notes. They contain some great photographs and a meaty bibliography, but leave out a lot of fascinating information. They do not address how the Soviets covered up the assassinations for years, insisting that only the Tsar had been killed on July 17 in Yekaterinburg and that Alexandra and the children were somewhere safe. Even the Bolsheviks knew how cowardly it was to gun down a sickly woman, an even sicklier boy, four young women and a handful of loyal servants. (They also killed Anastasia’s dog, Jimmy).

And while the piety of the Imperial Family shines through the novel like seven candles held aloft in a steadily darkening room, the historical notes never mention that Nicolas, Alexandra, and all five children have been canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. They are not called martyrs, since martyrs die for their faith (although Lenin’s hatred of religion is well-documented) , but passion-bearers, who faced a violent death with faith and a Christlike acceptance. Today, a cathedral—the Church on the Blood—stands on the grounds where they were slaughtered. The Russian Orthodox Church abroad also canonized the servants who died with the family, even though Alexei Trupp was Roman Catholic.

Romanov icon

The above decision was not without controversy, since some critics within the Orthodox Church insisted that Nicolas II’s apparent ineptitude as a ruler cancelled out his strong character in his personal life. This book avoids making any political statement of the kind. The girls did not know their father as an Emperor, they knew him as their mild-mannered papa who loved cigars and chopped wood to stay in shape.

I find the cover art and title of the book a wee bit deceptive. The young lady on the front cover is unlikely to be Olga, given her unbound hair. Maria’s hair was a darker shade of brown than this, and Tatiana was both brunette and old enough to wear her tresses up. That leaves Anastasia, and she was way too rambunctious at the beginning of the story to sadly finger her pearls while staring into the distance. By the time she was mature enough to ponder anything, she couldn’t openly wear her pearls. So, artistic license. It doesn’t reflect what’s actually happening in most of the book, but it does convey what was lost.

As for the title, I think that the publisher wanted something vague that didn’t scream “historical fiction” or “sad ending.�� I’m also sure that it had nothing to do with the surplus of YA books with the word “crown” in the name. Ahem. Anyway, the crown certainly was lost, but that wasn’t my main takeaway from this book.

The Crown's Game

The Crown of Embers

Crown of Midnight

One hundred years ago yesterday, four girls and their little brother were brutally slain for the sins, real and perceived, of their father, their mother, their mother’s friend, and their ancestors going back centuries. Let us not forget them.

I can’t recommend this book enough.
Profile Image for Susan.
Author 23 books966 followers
July 21, 2011
An excellent novel about the last days of the Romanov dynasty, narrated by the four doomed daughters of Nicholas and Alexandria. There are no gimmicks here--no love affairs between the girls and their guards, no survivors of the cellar massacre. All we have is four young women with distinct personalities managing to keep their individuality, their dignity, their humanity, and their affection for their family while their world collapses.

There's also an excellent author's note and a bibliography for those inclined to read more about this subject, as I certainly am now.
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,207 reviews104 followers
March 15, 2022
Although I have actually and in particular found Sarah Miller’s general writing style for her 2011 biographical novel The Lost Crown strong and evocatively flowing (and with the four Romanov sisters all presenting themselves as immensely likeable characters, and each with personally distinct and delightful narrative voices), it is, I am sorry to say, also precisely because I have found The Lost Crown and Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia’s fictionalised diaries so compelling, so full of passion and a lust for life, so teeming with emotion and tenderness that I have in fact and indeed now chosen to not complete my reading of The Lost Crown. And while perhaps some might and even with a bit of true reason consider labelling my decision to quit reading The Lost Crown as an act of emotional cowardice, knowing what was in real life the final and terrible fate of the four Romanov girls (as well the fate of as of their parents and younger brother), I just could not, I just cannot stomach and handle reading more and more about the Romanovs, and yes indeed, because The Lost Crown is penned in diary form, becoming increasingly close to and even book friends with Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, whilst being painfully and totally in all ways aware that there would be no happy endings, that Czar Nicholas II and his entire family would all be callously and gruesomely slaughtered.
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
923 reviews601 followers
April 3, 2016
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I attempted a fictional account of the Romanovs' last days almost a year ago and I'm still not over the experience. I was and am so disgusted with The House of Special Purpose that I almost skipped out on Sarah Miller's The Lost Crown. I seriously considered abandoning it at my library’s hold desk when they informed me it was ready, but I hate making the librarians process requests for no reason so I schlepped my butt downtown. Four hundred and forty eight pages later, well, let’s just say the trip was well worth the effort.

Most fictional versions of the story focus on a single individual, usually one of the younger set and inevitably tackle how they escaped the basement of the Impatiev house and went on after the revolution. I tend to excuse stories published before 2008, but since the official identification of the last two family member, I find my tolerance for such fantasies is extremely limited, especially when they appear without a disclaimer. Yes, I’m referring to The House of Special Purpose. I did mention I’m still bitter right? Point I’m getting at here is that Miller's version ends in July 1918 and I found her adherence to what we now know to have happened both admirable and refreshing.

The true genius of The Lost Crown can be found in its format. Telling the story from the combined perspective of all four Grand Duchesses must have been quite an undertaking, but her effort pays off in the best possible way. Each girl is distinct and I liked how Miller’s treatment of each allowed the reader to interpret them as individuals rather than a combined group. I enjoyed Miller's interpretation of the younger set, but it was the older set that caught my eye. Olga and Tatiana are usually regulated to supporting roles and I relished the opportunity to explore their characters through Miller’s fiction.

Another particularly noteworthy aspect of The Lost Crown is Miller’s exploration of the family's public roles prior to captivity. The book doesn't focus entirely on the glamour and privileges of their station, but also covers the relatively mundane patterns of their daily lives as well as the volunteer work the girls did as part of the war effort. Miller took great care to honor historic context over the course of the narrative and I think that attention to detail sets the novel above much of its competition.
Profile Image for Helen Azar.
Author 19 books95 followers
July 21, 2011
It is generally not easy to find quality historical fiction, and this goes tenfold for fiction about the last Russian imperial family. This book is a definite exception to the rule. Historically accurate down to minute details, and at the same time very well written, the story in "The Lost Crown" starts just before the revolution and covers the events that lead up to the assassination of the Russian imperial family. Seen through the eyes of the four historically neglected daughters of the last Tsar - Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia (OTMA), who are usually treated as a collective whole (unless you count trashy novels like "Tsarina's Daughter" or Anastasia-"survivor"-pseudo-non-fiction, which of course you shouldn't). In this novel, the sisters are portrayed sensitively and realistically, and most importantly as individuals. They are depicted as neither saints, nor as brats, but as normal girls/young women, as they most certainly were. The novel is told from the perspective of each individual sister, each takes a turn with the narrative. Their personalities develop as each chapter unfolds, and it is all based on historical descriptions of those who knew the girls personally, so it will satisfy even the most "purist" Romanov-phile. OTMA are presented, atypically, as multi-dimensional characters, with numerous factual anecdotes effectively incorporated into each girl's narrative, which adds a lot of reality to the story. At times they are funny, at other times - touching or sad, but they are all very real. IMO, this is arguably the best depiction, fiction or non-fiction, of the ill-fated OTMA sisters. The only thing I would change about this book is the publisher's choice of title, as I don't feel it accurately conveys the book's essence, but I suppose they know better what sells :)
Profile Image for Meg - A Bookish Affair.
2,445 reviews203 followers
March 13, 2012
And here I am, continuing on my Russian fiction journey and I am loving it. I love how many books have or are coming out about Russia. This is a historical fiction book told from the point of view of the four daughters of the last Tsar of Russia: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. It's been awhile since I've read any books or watched anything about the Romanovs and I had forgotten how long they had to wait to find out their destiny. For some reason, I had it in my head that they were taken away from the palace and met their end not long after. In reality, the family was moved from the capital to Ekaterinburg, a coal town in the middle of Russia, where they were basically guarded until the end. I can't imagine just having to wait like that. At least in Miller's book, some of the sisters are still keeping diaries and one of them comments how boring her diary has become as they're not allowed to do anything.

This was definitely one of those historical fiction books that is now going to plant the seed in my head that I need to start reading more about the Romanovs and the Russian Revolution.

I know that the Russians were upset with Tsar Nicholas and his family because they felt like they were really struggling when the family was not at all. However, the two older sisters helped out as nurses to help the wounded military personnel. And the two younger sisters hoped to help out as nurses someday. I thought it was kind of cool that they had gotten training in something like that.

Miller does a great job of pulling you into the story. I think that it was especially effective to tell the story from the point of view of the different sisters as they have really different points of view and things that they are thinking about or worried about. Miller does a good job of keeping all of the voices distinct and separate, which can be really difficult to do sometimes.

Bottom line: This is a great young adult historical fiction that really transcends just being a young adult book.
Profile Image for Meghan.
260 reviews
February 8, 2017
It is impossible not to enjoy this book. Because it takes place from all four Grand Duchess's points of views, you fall in love with every one of them. Each one has a unique personality that is displayed throughout the story. The whole book was wonderful, in depth, descriptive, and unique from anything else I have read on the Last Grand Duchesses. However, my very favorite part of this book was the last four chapters, one from each of the girls. You could tell that would be the last you would hear from them, because each one ended with a conclusion where that individual girl thought of her future or her dreams, or was just content. Then, when you finish Olga's chapter and the epilogue, you come fact-to-face with a two page portrait of the family. It really was heartbreaking and reminded me of why their story fascinates me so much. All together, a very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Alison (AlisonCanRead).
513 reviews2 followers
May 31, 2011
I have been fascinated by the doomed Romanov children for years. I think it's because they took so many photos of themselves. The photos make the imperial family in their pretty dresses and sailor suit with the occasional smile (unusual in pictures of that era) make them look approachable and real. It makes their ending seem even more horrible.

The Lost Crown covers the last four years of the imperial family's life. It starts out at the beginning of World War I, when things are basically fine, with just an undercurrent of problems to come. The imperial children have a charmed, happy life, marred only by Aleksei's hemophilia.

The book is told from the alternating perspectives of the four girls: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. The author does a good job to give each character unique personalities, but having four voices going through basically the same things does make the book a bit confusing.

It is easy to forget that the girls were in their late teens and early twenties during this time period. Throughout the book, they seem much younger than their actual ages. They've been so sheltered throughout their lives, that they are more children than young women. They keep this naivete even as things go increasingly sour. While it seems odd that people of their age would be so immature, I am guessing this may be fairly realistic. They really were kept very sheltered.

I was surprised the book was as long as it was. The author did a good job of switching things up, showing things from different points of view, having events move steadily forward, but I still think you easily could have docked 50-100 pages. That being said, I was impressed with how she managed to add plot and drama to the girls' lives in captivity when every day was really more of the same.

The main problem with this book can't be helped. It is Depressing, with a capital "D." Not because the author makes it that way, but because it's reality. I became attached to these characters throughout the book. They were sweet, innocent, and loved Russia. But I knew there would be no happy ending. No last minute hero coming to rescue them. And I desperately wanted that. They lived every day completely ignorant that it was one day closer to their last - and I knew going in when that last day would be. I was very impressed with the book's ending. She wrote the Romanov's deaths in a way that was simple and poignant. It brought some closure to an otherwise horrible tragedy.

The Lost Crown is a great book for anyone interested in the Romanov family. It's not a super-speedy read and it is very depressing, but it is consistently interesting and sweet.

Rating: 3.5 / 5
Profile Image for Jenny Q.
1,008 reviews54 followers
July 16, 2011
Setting this aside for later at page 146, but not because this is bad. On the contrary, the writing is lovely and so are the Romanov princesses. At first I was wary of four sisters' POVs, but I was impressed with Miller's ability to give distinct voices to each girl, while at the same time showing how similar they were, and how much they loved each other. They are so sweet, and they try so hard to face the war, and the revolution, and imprisonment with dignity and grace. What happens to them just sucks. I knew what would happen to them going in, but I did a little research online when I started this and I just felt sick reading the accounts of their deaths. I just can't bear to keep reading right now knowing what's coming--I'm really in the mood for some happy endings. I will definitely pick this up sometime in the future.
Profile Image for Katherine.
777 reviews355 followers
July 17, 2015

"Where we go next, we go together.”

4.5 out of 5 stars

Setting:Russia; 1915-1918

Coverly Love?;Yes! I like the girl and the dress she is wearing, and the significance of the pearls on the cover (every time one of the duchesses had a birthday, they would get a pearl to make a necklace).

Plot:In this historical fiction based on fact and told from the viewpoints of all four Romanov sisters (Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastatia) as the outbreak of WWI starts and the government of Russia is torn to shreds. It follows the last years of their lives as they describe their imprisonment and isolation.

I liked the author's use of different viewpoints in describing the story. For those of you looking for a happy ending (aka alternate history in which Anastasia survives), you will be highly disappointed. The author stays true to the original story, and the results are heartbreaking.

Characters:Well, the main characters are the sisters narrating the story. I love how the author kept their distinct personalities. Olga was the oldest and the most serious, Tatiana was the most beautiful and the one closest to their mother, Maria was the sweet one and Anastasia was the goofy one. Alexei, the tsar and the tsarina also make appearances.

Pros:I applaud the author for researching this novel so well, and making it so historically accurate. I also loved her honesty about the events that happened. I have always been intrigued by the Romanov family, and this was a wonderful way to understand them better.

Cons:Nothing in particular!

Love triangle?:Nope!


A Little Romance?:Maria has many crushed on the soldiers, and Olga falls in love with one of the soldiers she is tending too, but both never materialize into anything significant.

Conclusion?:For those of you who are intrigued with the Romanovs and want a historically accurate book, I would definitely recommend this one.

Read This!: Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, Russia, 1914 by Carolyn Meyer, Anastasia's Album by Hugh Brewster, and Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie.
Profile Image for Camille.
Author 27 books447 followers
August 13, 2020
I’ve been waiting for a book like this—an accurate novel about my favorite historical figures—for years, ever since I discovered the Romanovs through a 6th Grade project that begun my love affair of the Grand Duchesses OTMA (Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia), who have since been an inspiration for me as I’ve grown up and shaped my own identity. So much Romanov fiction revolves around inaccurate sexual exploits or untrue survivor stories, which I believe disrespects the memories of these remarkable young women (as much as I love the movie Anastasia, it’s been proven there were no survivors of the cellar Romanov massacre). Finally, it’s here, a real story about these wonderful daughters of the last Russian Tsar. I’m so happy to have finally discovered this novel; it’s like a childhood wish come true.

The author, Sarah Miller, brings these four sisters to life in this tale about their last four years, beginning just before the First World War and ending in the cellar in Ekaterinburg after the entire Imperial Family was condemned to death by the Bolsheviks. I adored reading from the perspectives of the four Grand Duchesses as they all told a portion of their story in their own distinct voice, which revealed their brilliantly reconstructed unique personalities. Maria was my favorite (she always has been), but I loved all of the sweet and charming Grand Duchesses. Their perspective was so deep and real; I really felt I was glimpsing their world through their eyes. I loved these sisters’ closeness and sincere love they felt for their family and country, and the dignity they had despite the world they knew changing forever around them. The last four chapters, where each girl takes a turn summing up who she is and her dreams for her future, were my favorite.


The writing was so lush and beautiful, full of gorgeous descriptions, wonderful Biblical references, and accurate historical research. I would have loved to read more of their story prior to the War and even during the war itself, but I’ve never read such an in-depth account of the Grand Duchesses’ lives following their father’s abdication, or an account told so beautifully, so this novel stands alone as a jewel in books about the Romanov’s story. The ending haunted me for days upon finishing this, even though I knew from the beginning how it would end. The Lost Crown is a must read for any Romanov fan. Such a sad and tragic story.

Profile Image for Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18).
174 reviews37 followers
November 28, 2017
Is that...
This is the definitive book on the last Romanov children. It is interesting, historically accurate, and could hardly be described as childish. Miller takes the wise idea to use all four sister to display their unity but also the secrets they keep from each other. I don't think I'll ever forget how Tatiana says "you won't tell the little pair." It's so poignant and beautiful. In addition, it showed how bad Anastasia is as a sole narrator- the "little pair" being Anastasia and Maria - as they lacked so much in political knowledge. While not making Anastasia "the special" it showed a realistic idea of how she thought of herself. I had that quote memorized for some time.

This was also one of few Romanov fiction books that had a solid, concrete theme. Carolyn Meyer attempts one in Anastasia and Her Sisters but "Duty was duty, and we had not choice" made me cringe. Many others don't attempt it. In addition, Miller does not make this strictly Christian but is not afraid to include biblical references. Some may criticize, but the references to Job and Romans brought the latter part of the book alive.
The one thing is, though, avoid using a prologue set in 1917. That was the one thing The Tsarina's Daughter got right.
Pay nod heed to the girly cover, some serious people and boys will probably not be caught dead with this one for the sole sake of its cover. I was misled and many other may be as well.
April 19, 2017

So this has five stars, and for good reason. This is probably one of the best, if not THE BEST, fictional portrayals of the Romanova sisters ever. I learned so much from this book, and to this date is probably one of the few historical fiction books I've learned a lot from about a topic I really like.

All four sisters take turns narrating various events from their lives from 1914-1918, none are left out and their personalities really shine in this book. I was a bit miffed that Anastasia only got about three or four chapters to herself, even though I understood why-the focus needs to be on her other sisters too, not just her since she gets the most media.

Their personalities are exactly on-point in this book, and their last words have stuck with me to this day, especially: "I am Anastasia Nickolaevena Romanova. And I will not let the world forget about me," Olga is hot-headed and anxious, yet sassy and intelligent, Tatiana is stern and obedient, yet charming and fashionable, Maria is soft-spoken and shy, yet kind and caring, and Anastasia is mischievous and a trouble-maker, yet cheerful and optimistic. Their personalities really leapt off the pages for me.

The cover is one of my favorites. The girl looks a lot like Anastasia, she's even blonde, and holding a pearl necklace while wearing a dress resembling one of Anastasia's own dresses. On the back are three other girls that look just like her sisters come to life in color. Whoever did the covers did an amazing job capturing the looks and essence of the sisters.

It's actually kind of sad that this is one of the few historical fiction books about the Romanovs that's actually impeccably historically-accurate to this day, and for this particular age group too. But until another one comes along, I'll happily reread this one again and again.
Profile Image for Leigh.
945 reviews
December 19, 2020
Chances are without Goodreads I never would've heard of or read this book. I rarely read YA unless it's by an author I love, a subject I enjoy or it comes highly recommended. The Lost Crown met two out of three requirements. For once it was a fictionalized account of the last years of the Romanovs told by the four grand duchesses, not by just one daughter. It also doesn't include forbidden romance or escapes from Impatiev House. Instead the author does a tremendous job of giving each daughter her own voice and distinct personality. It was easy to tell who was narrating each chapter without having to flip back and check. From Tatiana's prim proper take charge attitude, to Olga's practical yet melancholy views, Maria's gentle kindness and Anastasia who goes from childish and immature to starting to grow up. History came alive and these four young women went from black and white pictures in a history book to the living breathing souls they were. It was heartbreaking when they were separated, their parents and Maria going to Tobolsk while the others stayed behind. The anticipation and joy of their reunion came right through the page, as did the tension as more and more was taken away from them and all began to ponder what their fate would be. The ending I found to be just right, not graphic or gory. After getting to know the young women throughout the book I couldn't have stomached Olga describing her final moments in that cellar room. The ending was as it should be, we all know how it ended and if you don't you should read about it in a history book. Loved the book and might even give the author another try as she knows how to write great historical fiction.
Profile Image for La Coccinelle.
2,251 reviews3,562 followers
August 30, 2016
When I heard that Sarah Miller was working on a book about the Romanov daughters, I was really excited. While this subject matter is not new in the YA genre (Laura Whitcomb's The Fetch and Joy Preble's Dreaming Anastasia come to mind), this is the first YA novel I've read about the Romanovs that is pure historical fiction (both of those other books deal with the survival myths and contain supernatural elements).

I've been fascinated by the family for a while, even before I was given Hugh Brewster's beautiful Anastasia's Album. So I knew the basic story about the doomed family. Strangely enough, though, even knowing how things are going to end doesn't make this book any less fascinating or engaging. The character development is really strong. It's easier to see the girls as real people, rather than just as characters in a story or as dry historical personages. I learned more about some of the older girls that I hadn't known, since so much focus seems to have been paid to Anastasia in the last 100 years; in this version of the story, she actually takes more of a backseat to her sisters, which is refreshing.

The actual writing itself is excellent, and the author knows what she's doing. It's lovely to see. I think I'll have to read Miss Spitfire now, since I know I can count on good writing from this author.

Profile Image for Anna.
430 reviews47 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
August 27, 2016
I’d been looking forward to this for ages, but only realised it was a YA when I started reading it. Narrated by the Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, it sets the tone perfectly for its target audience, and I know that my 14 year old self discovering the Romanovs for the first time would have loved it. As it was, it all wore a bit thin and ended up being a DNF; my teenage self would have rated it at least 4 stars!
Profile Image for Abby Rose.
502 reviews41 followers
May 8, 2022
The most historically accurate piece of fiction about the lives of the Romanov sisters I've had the pleasure of reading.

The writing is beautiful and the different voices have a way of being similar enough that you honestly believe the speakers are all close siblings but different enough not to get redundant.

I also give this a big thumbs up for following the girls' story all the way to the end where they meet their tragic deaths (this shouldn't be a spoiler, considering it's history and most people know this happened). Most books of this sort seem only to go up to their time in early imprisonment. Except for The Tsarina's Daughter which I did not care much for, and thought wildly improbable.

I DID like House of Special Purpose, which also follows them to the bitter end, but that took a LOT of obvious liberties.

One cool thing about this book (The Lost Crown) is that its one of the few fictional books you can bring up in the presence of a 'Romanov purist' (aka a particular brand of history buffs who hate most fictional portrayals of the Romanovs, and get smoke coming out both their ears if you mention Don Bluth's Anastasia) without causing them to foam at the mouth. This book has won even most of them over for its beauty and Historial accuracy. Which really should speak for itself on how GOOD a job Miller did here.

If asked if this or Meyer's slightly more recent Anastasia And Her Sisters (along the same plotline as this one) is the superior piece of Romanov sisters fiction, I would have to admit that's not an easy question to answer. Both books have VERY good, historically accurate, portrayals of Anastasia and Olga Romanov.

Here are some points to consider if you're planning on reading only one of these similar books and are debating which to choose.

1) The Lost Crown, strictly as a novel, is better executed. You get a look into all four of Tsar Nicholas' daughters' heads, not just one or two. And through each of them a more solid idea of the others around them. From Olga and Anastasia's pov chapters, I felt very connected to their little brother. From Olga's alone, we get a better view of their father. From Tatiana, we understand their mother Alexandra and her struggles. From Maria, you get more sympathy for persons outside the strict family unit, such as the guards.

It also just has a better flow with natural dialogue. At no point did I feel Sarah Miller struggled between writing this as almost a text book and recalling it's really a novel. She knew what she was doing and she did it well.

2) Despite the brutal realness, The Lost Crown leans a smidge more towards sugary sentimental views on the royal family than Meyer's book. You never quite get the feeling Olga is more depressed (or even angry) than her sisters in Lost Crown, which it seems likely she was in real life. Even the gun she conceals on her person until she's forced to give it up is not shown in a sinister or ominous manner; its just for protection. If you lean more to the view that all four girls were largely uninformed of the danger of their situation beyond a few inklings, Miller's work will keep you with that assumption. Meyer's seemed to have darker implications, with Olga growing bitter and Maria almost blissfully oblivious in contrast, Anastasia caught someplace in the middle.

3) Timing/romances. There isn't really any romance in The Lost Crown. This could be because it begins later in time than Meyer's, so there was no place to include Olga/Pavel. But any other possible crushes, such as with soldiers in the hospitals, or their own male cousins, aren't touched on either in Lost Crown. The book doesn't suffer for this in the least, as it wouldn't have added anything important, but it is a major difference between the two works. Meyer's book not only touches on Olga's ill fated romance, it strongly implies Anastasia may have been in love with Dr. Botkin's son.

So it comes down to preferences. If you want more showing and sentimental views, Lost Crown will please you most. If you want more telling, with a cynical edge, try Meyer's book.

Personally I love both, but I think this book, Lost Crown nails the story of the tight knit family better, while the other one is broader and more clinical.
Profile Image for Megan.
19 reviews
October 24, 2011
Meticulously and lovingly researched, it's hard not to respect the effort that went into The Lost Crown. However, I felt that the effort fell a bit flat.

The first problem with The Lost Crown is implicit in its premise. Because the reader knows that the Romanov family was murdered by Bolsheviks in July of 1918, it's hard to keep up much sense of suspense. This is made worse by the family's captivity. As many writing instructors will tell you, bored people are boring. Therefore, a bored, scared family doesn't make for the most fascinating topic for a book.

Miller does her best to keep tensions high between family members and their captors. As the book is not dreadfully dull, she succeeds at making what could be a very boring affair interesting, at least. The pace is, at times, a bit plodding and repetitive, but I have a hard time imagining the topic handled better as a novel.

Miller's biggest stumble, however, is in her decision to split the POV and give each of the Romanov daughters a chance to tell their story. The voices of the grand duchesses aren't very distinctive. In fact, even their personalities meld together a bit. With the constant switching between who is 'I,' it can be hard to keep track of what each sister is like. It takes a very, very long time for each of the young women to become their own person, and in the end, only Anastasia is a truly distinctive character. I believe the book would have been a stronger one had Miller chosen one sister and stuck with her POV.

Still, it's hard to disparage such a heart-felt, lovingly written book. Miller's compassion for the Romanovs is truly what makes the story work. Though to the reader may at times find them outrageously uninformed, it's also easy to settle into the general mindset of the family -- naive, sheltered, and unprepared for the changing world around them.

If you're looking for a page turner, The Lost Crown is probably not the best choice for you. However, if you are looking for a well-researched and entertaining introduction to this period in history, I can't think of a better novel.
Profile Image for Jody Bachelder.
Author 1 book7 followers
October 25, 2011
In fictional diary format, the 4 daughters of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia describe their lives before and after the Bolshevik Revolution. Their world of glamour and privilege becomes increasingly narrow and poor as revolutionary forces try to decide what to do with the royal family after toppling the throne. Author Miller presumes the reader has some background knowledge of the subject. The girls' references to their brother Aleksei's illnesses won't make sense if the reader doesn't know he had hemophilia. Readers be advised: this is not a balanced account of the Russian Revolution, but a very one-sided portrait of the royal family. Olga, the eldest, makes a couple of references to the peasants' hard lives and wonders if her father should have done more to help them. Still, this is an interesting viewpoint (privileged princesses had no knowledge about or interaction with peasants) but I would have liked more historical footnotes and perspectives, with an explanatory introduction. There is a Cast of Characters and a list of Russian phrases, which is very useful because the Russian names are difficult. This may spur further interest in the subject.
Profile Image for Overbooked  ✎.
1,533 reviews
August 27, 2016
Don’t be fooled, like I was, by this book cover, it looks like a light chick-lit novel, but instead is it a well researched book on the last years of the Romanov sisters: Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia (OTMA for short), daughters of tsar Nicholas II.
The author chose a mock diary format and the novel starts innocently enough, describing the girls’ privileged life and careless attitude. Soon enough the tone changes as the characters’ lives turn upside down during the events of WWI. The royal family is slowly stripped of their life of luxuries, to be effectively held prisoners and eventually coveting a breath of fresh air from a small open window (painted white from the outside!). My experience of reading this book has been similar to watching the slow progress of a train wreck to its abrupt and bloodied end.
The book focuses on the royal family and as such it does not reveal the events happening outside their limited “world”. I would have preferred that a timeline been included with historical events happening during the book narration, as well as a better map (the places where the family travels are strangely not included in the one provided).
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
3,098 reviews1,483 followers
July 13, 2013
An author's note includes details on the deaths of the Romanovs and the search for the true story. An extensive bibliography follows. I found this novel very long and very slow. I had a hard time getting through it knowing what happened to the Romanovs. I liked the characterization of each of the Grand Duchesses but I felt that their personalities really did not show through in their diary-like chapters. I couldn't tell which sister was telling the story without looking. The strongest voices are Olga and Anastasia. I also felt that the author did a little TOO much research. She includes many Russian words and phrases, some of which are unnecessary when the English word will do just as well. I had to keep checking the glossary which interrupted the flow of the story as I was reading. I'm not sure I would recommend this book to teens unless they have an intense interest in the Romanovs. I would recommend this book to adults who love history but haven't really explored historical fiction.
Profile Image for Carissa.
780 reviews1 follower
July 16, 2011
It was a great book, but it was also sad. I knew how it ended before I got to the end I guess thats the price you pay for reading historical fiction with historical characters. Reveiw coming soon.
354 reviews92 followers
July 7, 2020
I have been obsessed with the Romanovs for a very long time. I know quite a lot about them and there is a lot I still want to learn. I have a lot of books about them both fiction and nonfiction. This was a really well written historical fiction. You can tell and feel all of the research that the author has done. I loved the bibliography at the end was a nice touch. I might have check some of the books she used as a reference out. I loved getting to read from all perspectives of the Grand Duchesses. I definitely have to check out more by her depending on what it's about. This book has reminded that I not only need to get back into historical books both fiction and nonfiction but especially those about the Romanovs.
Profile Image for Georgia.
78 reviews
June 5, 2023
This book was great but incredibly depressing. Knowing their fates, and seeing the buildup to their execution, made this book sadder than I anticipated. This book could have been a bit shorter and still got the point across, but I did love how we got to know each character even though we know they won't make it. Really engaging historical fiction
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Shanti.
1,058 reviews26 followers
July 22, 2015
this book had interesting characters and was very well researched. Yet it was plotless, which was it's main fault.
Multiple perspective books can be hard to read, because it gets confusing- who are you reading about? Like all other books with multiple perspectives (at least the ones that I've read) The Lost Crown has the name of the narrator at the beginning of each chapter. I would often find myself flicking back a few pages to find who it was. It was the nicknames that really threw me- I was reading an ebook so it was difficult to go back and look at the list, and it took me forever to work out who Mashka was. The other problem was that all the sisters, though different, were sharing a similar experience so their stories were pretty similar. I got used to it over time though. I did like the characters. Their innocence and outlook on the world as everything shifted was well portrayed and interesting. A lot of my impressions of the sisters came from the other sisters, which allowed for an odd sort of bias. As a whole, the characters emotions, dialogue and longing for something more than the walls which had always surrounded them was well written
I also loved how in depth the historical research was. The details- Faberge eggs, phrases like 'doing the governer' and the train systems transported me to the period. I couldn't help but see parallels to the French Revolution, which the characters had also picked up on. The way that OTMA's faith, and their mothers, was shown was also interesting.
I loved the themes in the novel. At times, they were a little overt, but generally, the ideas of humanity and compassion that the sisters sought out were a delight to read. I liked how the characters grew older and got more insight, especially Olga. The family dynamic, how they meant everything to each other, was also a significant part of the book, and one I loved.
So what didn't I like? For one, all the Russian words. It was an e-reader, so I couldn't flip back and forth, so I was fairly confused at times, and had to figure out words from context.
But my main quibble was the fact that there was no plot. I've studied history, so I knew how the story ended. There was a little rising suspense at the end, but then it ended pretty suddenly. They had to adjust their lives in various places as the Revolution heightened, but there was a lot of hearsay. I thought that something interesting might happen as we got closer to the end and everyone was separated, but nothing did. One of the main things that contributed to this was the fact that (realistically) the tsars family was cut off from the news, so there wasn't much action. It was just their lives, and that didn't reflect the lives of the aver russian lay men and women at the time at all.
If you want an accurate portrayal of a family who was shut off from the Russian Revolution and not much happened, read this, but stay away if you're looking for drama (other than fighting sisters)and plot.
September 8, 2022
Let me begin my criticism by first commending Sarah Miller for capturing the beauty and tragedy of the Romanov sisters in few, simple, and lyrical words. I enjoyed this easy read very much. While the writing is not brilliant, some of the characters’ lines were truly thought provoking and very moving. I have very few complaints about this book, except for one that I thought cheapened the quality of Sarah Miller’s writing, and that ultimately led me to withhold an extra star from my rating.
The smilies. Now, similes used in moderation add brilliancy to any good story. But when they are placed in every other sentence, and when their awkwardness leave one stopping mid sentence in confusion, then the harm they cause is worse than their benefit. Don’t misunderstand me: some of her similes were absolutely beautiful. I just wish there were more of the good ones….
Take, for example, this awkward one: “I knot up like day old hair ribbons…” Awkward, indeed, but not atrocious. Here’s another one: “Colonel Kobylinsky turns pink as a filet of salmon…” I like to eat salmon myself, so I know what that means, but still, it’s wordy. But what about this? “His head looks like a bearded cloud”. What is a bearded cloud? I searched on Google, and it came up with a grinning bearded man with his head half stuck in a plate sized cloud…
I suppose if I am very imaginative with that “bearded cloud” simile, I could envision a wispy looking cloud, but wouldn’t the words “wispy cloud” make more sense than the vague and mysterious “bearded cloud”?
These are only a few of many confusing similes, some of which are much worse.
There is another point that is of much less importance (in my opinion), but that still deserves to be addressed.
Throughout the book, I was surprised and delighted with the accuracy of some of the Russian slogans that Sarah Miller used. I am a Russian speaker myself, and I appreciated the writer’s carefully researched word choices. However, she made a big blunder when it came to the word “Nemka”. Apparently, this caused great horror for the elder Romanov sisters when it was pronounced in their presence, and I can’t think why. “Nemka” is a natural Russian term used to identify a German woman. It is not vulgar. It is not a curse word. It is not the degrading, obscene slogan that the sisters identified it to be. It simply means… “German woman”. Even I use it. While it may have hurt the girls to have their beloved mother, a Russian tsaritsa called a “German woman”, Sarah Miller’s implications of profanity for the Russian term were incorrect.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, and it holds a place in my small library.
Let me finish my criticism with the last lines of the book, which are also my favourite, heartrending and poignant, summing up in very few words the legacy of love that this family left behind them. In Olga Nikolaevna’s imagined words:
“Another flash- Yurovsky and his squad answering with open fire.
I cross myself and close my eyes.
Where we go next, we go together.”

Profile Image for Holly.
1,811 reviews124 followers
August 18, 2011
I'm one of those girls that has been in love with the story of the Romanovs since I saw the animated Anastasia movie years ago. Ever since, I've been researching it and trying to learn as much as I can about the family, particularly Anastasia, who just seems to be the most interesting to me.

This did an amazing job at being factual. It even gave me a better insight into how they spent their day to day lives and what their "prisons" were like. That was super amazing. Also, I loved being able to see things from the POV of the sisters, Maria, Olga, and Tatiana. Most stories about the Romanov family focus solely on Anastasia. I learned so much from this it's insane. I even picked up some Russian!

I guess what I liked most about this was that there wasn't a whole lot of bullcrap about it. It stuck with the facts. It didn't touch on the legend of how Anastasia escaped (sorry to burst your bubble, but they've found her body). I liked that.

What I didn't like so much was that it was an incredibly hard read and I didn't have a lot of time to devote to it. I constantly had to check the index in the front of Russian words so I could keep up. And it dragged on. The storyline covers from 1914 to 1918. It was just a little hard to pay attention sometimes.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 318 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.