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The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar
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Group Read Discussions > October 2017 Group Read--The Kitchen Boy *NO SPOILERS*

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message 1: by Jasmine, Gatekeeper of Giveaways. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jasmine | 1180 comments Mod
The book picked by our group to read for August 2017 was The Kitchen Boy. This is the NO SPOILER thread. Happy Reading!

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 dark secrets of his past with the imperial family. Does he hold the key to the many questions surrounding the family’s murder? Historically vivid and compelling, The Kitchen Boy is also a touching portrait of a loving family that was in many ways similar, yet so different, from any other.


gathering feather organiceden | 4080 comments I just found bushed this the other day. It is a good companion to Rappaport's Four Sisters.


message 3: by Bob (new) - rated it 1 star

Bob newton could not finish as i felt it over romanticized the Romanovs.They were very unpleasant and cruel rulers


message 4: by Jasmine, Gatekeeper of Giveaways. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jasmine | 1180 comments Mod
I read this years ago and really liked it, but I wonder how I would feel now. I want to try to reread this, but it all depends on time.


message 5: by Nicky (new)

Nicky Moxey | 9 comments How historically accurate do people think it is?


message 6: by Jasmine, Gatekeeper of Giveaways. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jasmine | 1180 comments Mod
Nicky wrote: "How historically accurate do people think it is?"

I don't remember. Though I was proud the author did not follow the myth of Anastasia and used Maria instead (her body and Alexie's were the ones not in the mass grave).


message 7: by Nicky (new)

Nicky Moxey | 9 comments Thanks - that's one of the errors that really annoys me :)


message 8: by Jasmine, Gatekeeper of Giveaways. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jasmine | 1180 comments Mod
Nicky wrote: "Thanks - that's one of the errors that really annoys me :)"

That they used Maria's body? Or that most authors paint Anastasia as the 'The Lost Princess' when her body was in the grave. I don't remember the exact date, but wasn't it the late 90s when they discovered the last two bodies?


message 9: by Nicky (new)

Nicky Moxey | 9 comments Lost Princess scenario! Yes, something like that.


Janice (JG) | 67 comments I'm about half way through with this book, and I like the method of recording the past and then stopping to reflect and be in the present. I've also only read about half of the The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra so far (I will read the rest after I finish The Kitchen Boy), and it seems that both authors have emphasized the love of family and for each other that the emperor and his consort had. I have no reason to believe that this isn't so. The Kitchen Boy mentions the bloody reign of the czar, putting the responsibility on both the czar and Alexandra... but this is not a history of Russia. Both of these books are a study of daily life with this family.

I am also fascinated by the author's constant references to the background material that exists to affirm the facts... there seems to be a cornucopia of letters and diaries and memorabilia. The letters and diaries would be especially valuable in attempting to discover the personalities of the subjects. It makes me want to explore these documents more thoroughly... but since they are kept in Moscow, and I won't be traveling there anytime that I can foresee, I guess I will have to use these books as my resource... and my imagination.


message 11: by Tom (new)

Tom Behr) (tom_behr) | 23 comments This novel felt like a Matryoshka doll of lies, one nested inside the other, except the lies get bigger as each one is revealed, not smaller.
I found the background references more of an intrusion into the flow of the story, but I thought Alexander did a skillful job weaving together the twists, turns and surprises of this story, I can accept the premise that the Romanovs were a loving family, but given the unspeakable wreckage of the their rule, after such knowledge, what forgiveness? It felt to me like a gratuitous love, like the emptiness of the Czarina's visits to the soldiers' hospital
A question for other readers. Alexander emphasizes the centrality of religion in the Russian character: "sin, repentance, holy deliverance. Sin, torment and cleansing, purification. Sin, suffering, forgiveness." Is there any deliverance and purification for anyone in this novel?


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