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The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  13,314 ratings  ·  1,504 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
Paperback, 229 pages
Published January 27th 2004 by Penguin Books (first published January 27th 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 Engl…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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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Robert Alexander
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: historical fiction
Hey, I wrote it, what am I supposed to say but I love it!
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
aaaand my massive binge read on all russian related books continues. я ни о чем не жалею!

if i hadnt already known before picking this up that it was a work of historical fiction, i would have never assumed that. not in a million years. i was blown away at how much of this read like a memoir. the story felt so personal and so realistically genuine. yes, the events that happened were unfortunately real, but wow. i believed nearly every single word of this book! and if that isnt a testament to the
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars *rounded up*

Many years ago, in my high school world history class, I was assigned a research project. I cannot recall how or why I ended up with Rasputin being my research topic, but he became the subject of my project. It was then and there that my strong interest in the Romanov story was born. Ever since, I have been fascinated by the Romanov family and this tumultuous piece of history. And for anyone interested in the tragic tale of the Romanovs, The Kitchen Boy, is a fantastic read
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 aw
Mar 14, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jan 19, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Angela Watts
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.

Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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
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.
Oct 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have been fascinated by the story of the Romanov's for many years, though admit to a pretty one-sided readership of the events that occurred. Until now I've only read nonfiction, feeling as though the true story is so gripping by itself, that there wasn't really a need to fictionalize what might have happened after, who might have survived, or the like. I read this an an exception to that tendency, partly because of Book Riot's Read Harder challenge, and I'm glad I did. Knowing so much of the ...more
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
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
Mina Vucicevic
Oct 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
I really expected this book to be good, or at least interesting. Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed.

Most of the novel is very repetitive. Basically, all we get are endless descriptions of how the Romanovs hid their jewels, how expensive they were, and what good, brilliant people the Emperor and the Empress were. According to the author, they were simply misguided. Having in mind that their rule was marked by extreme poverty and hunger, after such statements I just couldn't take this bo
Alissa Roy
Jun 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own

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.

Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Roberta Frontini (Blogue FLAMES)
One of my FAVOURITE books of ALL times!!!!!!!!!!! I recommend it!

My opinion on my blog:
Joe Krakovsky
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Leah Christine
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you too have a fascination with the Tsar family, this is a great read of what the final days might have been like. It is unexpected. Read this again years after the first time and still really liked it.
Natalie K
May 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Would have been a solid four stars if not for (view spoiler) ...more
I wanted to read this book for a long time before I finally picked it up. Now that I've read it I have mixed feelings about this story. I thought it was interesting, I liked the narrative and the perspective the author chose for his narrator, I also liked the twist at the end which gives a hopeful spin to the horrible events that really happened.

I've never read anything about the Romanovs before and this story made me want to learn more. So, while I was reading this I picked up 'Nicholas and Ale
Sep 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
I would have stopped reading this if I hadn't been using it for a challenge or if it had been longer.

The frame of the story is that it is being told by an elderly rich man in Chicago who is recording it for his granddaughter. He describes his experiences as a teenage boy in Russia who was a kitchen servant during the Tsar's imprisonment. He adores the Tsar and his family and thinks the Bolsheviks are evil. I couldn't take the hero-worship. And while so much of the country was starving, the mothe
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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

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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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