Lauren Albert's Reviews > From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847--1928

From Splendor to Revolution by Julia P. Gelardi
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's review
May 03, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: biography-autobiography, history-european
Read from May 04 to 05, 2011

This is a very confusing read. Though she says she will be focusing on four Romanov women, she jumps back and forth between them and other related figures. As other reviewers have said, her moves from place to place and character to character make for a not-very-smooth read. Her switching between names and nicknames did not help and was ironic considering she discusses in the preface the problems entailed in keeping the infinite “Maries” straight. She also has a tendency to the hagiographic (here’s one example of many): “Thus was Olga untiring in her quest to improve her subjects’ spiritual and material well-being, never ceasing to do as much good as she could.”

Try as I might I can’t understand her choice to pick these particular four women to write about rather than to write a biography of one central figure or a general history of the period. She says that they were “matriarchs” meaning the four women she chose had heirs. I don’t see what difference that really makes since it is a book about their time and not ours and the effect they had on it.

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Reading Progress

05/04/2011 page 200

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