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Five Great Books about The Romanovs
3rd October 2019
We were recently talking to author Gill Paul, who has written two bestselling novels about the Romanov family of Russia, The Secret Wife and The Lost Daughter. She beautifully researches her novels and so we asked her to suggest 5 Great Books about the Romanovs, as it is such a fascinating period in history, still cloaked in mystery and intrigue.
Over to Gill:
City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin (2007)
“..a gripping, atmospheric thriller set in 1922 Berlin, where a woman in an asylum is claiming to be Anastasia..”
A cultured city scarred by war. . . . An eastern émigré with scars and secrets of her own. . . . A young woman claiming to be a Russian grand duchess. . . . A brazen killer, as vicious as he is clever. . . . A detective driven by decency and the desire for justice.
. . . A nightmare political movement steadily gaining power. . . .This is 1922 Berlin.
The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller (2014)
“..chapters are narrated in turn by each of the four Romanov daughters; the effect is moving and the research is impeccable..”
Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand–first headstrong Olga, then Tatiana the tallest, Maria 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 young women each on the brink of starting her own life. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together–who link arms and laugh, sisters who share their dreams and worries, and who 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 collides with the end of more than they ever imagined.
At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naïve and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of this great empire. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia.
The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne (2013)
“..Georgy becomes bodyguard to young Alexei, and falls for Anastasia at first glance; riveting..”
Russia, 1915: Sixteen year old farmer’s son Georgy Jachmenev steps in front of an assassin’s bullet intended for a senior member of the Russian Imperial Family and is instantly proclaimed a hero. Rewarded with the position of bodyguard to Alexei Romanov, the only son of Tsar Nicholas II, the course of his life is changed for ever.
Privy to the secrets of Nicholas and Alexandra, the machinations of Rasputin and the events which will lead to the final collapse of the autocracy, Georgy is both a witness and participant in a drama that will echo down the century.
Sixty-five years later, visiting his wife Zoya as she lies in a London hospital, memories of the life they have lived together flood his mind. And with them, the consequences of the brutal fate of the Romanovs which has hung like a shroud over every aspect of their marriage…
The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner (2018)
“.. the story of Maria Feodorovna, mother to Nicholas II; a beautifully written, vividly imagined portrait..”
Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage—as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria’s eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir, Alexander, and once he ascends the throne, becomes empress. When resistance to his reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie—now called Maria—must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.
Her husband’s death leaves their son Nicholas as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas’s strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has led her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.
From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon (2018)
– the story of Anna Anderson is narrated backwards, with the Romanovs’ experiences in captivity interspersed, and the two gradually come together. Clever.
Russia, July 17, 1918 Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.
Germany, February 17, 1920 A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.
Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson. As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.
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