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Publisher's Summary

They were the Princess Dianas of their day - perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early 20th century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses - Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia Romanov - were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore, and their privileged lifestyle. Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. With this treasure trove of diaries and letters from the grand duchesses to their friends and family, we learn that they were intelligent, sensitive, and perceptive witnesses to the dark turmoil within their immediate family and the ominous approach of the Russian Revolution - the nightmare that would sweep their world away and them along with it.

The Romanov Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia, World War I, and the Russian Revolution. Helen Rappaport aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries, and archival sources, as well as private collections. It is a book that will surprise people, even aficionados.

©2014 Helen Rappaport (P)2014 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    300
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Performance

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    127
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    51
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    9
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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Made you want to change the ending

It took me a little bit to get into this book but once I did I was hooked. The bad thing about reading a book about the Romanov’s is you know the ending and this book endeared me to the family and I really wanted it to end differently.

These girls were very sheltered and this book didn’t feel like it concentrated on just the girls, it’s a story about the entire family. Really what else can you say, everyone knows the story but to get some of these intimate details was interesting. And even though you know the ending it is still so sad!


I am a huge fan of Xe Sands and while I did enjoy her narration it felt different than other books I have listened to by her, not bad, just different to me , that may be because it’s a different genre I’m not sure. I felt like this had been sped up compared to the way Xe usually reads. But I thought she did a great job with all the names and pronunciations this book was a huge undertaking and I will always pick the audio over paper when she is narrating.

On a little aside it was neat getting a background on the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich who about 20 or so years after this book dated Coco Chanel (I recently read Mademoiselle Chanel) so hearing his name meant more to me than it would of if I hadn’t read about him and Coco.

This was a good book about the Romanov’s it’s not just about the sisters but about the family as a whole and I would recommend to anyone who likes Russian History.

4 Stars

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

fascinating

well read. poignant .could not put this down.reread some parts and cried. history is cruel.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very personal account

I was surprised at how much information was available! I loved how it was assembled!! You really get a feel for their family life.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enthralling, I couldn't stop listening.

The Russian Revolution was a part of world history I was not overly knowledgeable about, and found fascinating from the viewpoint of the Imperial Family. Meticulously researched and wonderfully written, and performed with such empathy never crossing over to melodrama. One of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sharon
  • GLEN ELLEN, CA, United States
  • 10-27-14

Good book despite terrible narrator.

It was all I could do to get through this book. I have to give Helen Rappaport a lot of credit for writing such an interesting book, as the narration was simply terrible. Xe Sands narrated with a very affected, disinterested voice. I would not know if her Russian was pronounced correctly, but she certainly got a lot of English words wrong. The book itself is interesting and I was glad that it was not just about the four sisters, but rather more about the family. If I were doing this again, I would definitely get the hardbound edition and skip the Audible version.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The lives they lived.

So enjoy the Romanov Family and the lives they lived, so close and loving, I have been to where they died and have been interested in their lives and was not disappointed by the book. It is a window into the life and people of Russia.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

From The Beginning You Known The End

The tragic and short lives of Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov is well known to anyone with a passing knowledge of European history. This book, however, does what a lot of histories prior to it have failed to do: it brings the Romanov family, especially the sisters, to life and allows them to be glimpsed as humans, each with their own personalities, flaws and strengths, rather than as remote and tragic historical figures. Their silly antics (particularly those of Anastasia), first loves and frequent struggles with a family plagued by illness are all here and presented to the reader/listener in the context of the time in which they lived with little of the attempts to pass judgement on the culture that is all too common with the offerings of other historical authors.

The narrator also deserves a mention in this review. Xe Sands delivers a calm, sympathetic and melancholy performance that is engaging and fits the overall tone of the book almost perfectly.

Now, a couple of notes of caution:
First, this is a sad story. You will not come away from this book with any sense of uplift other than what can be gleaned from the way the Romanov sisters quietly displayed grace, poise and dignity as their entire lives collapsed along with the health of their mother, brother and oldest sister. From living in some of the grandest palaces in Europe to confinement in a roach infested home in frozen Siberia; from being considered some of the most beautiful princesses in the world to being spied on and humiliated by belligerent guards, the girls showed an uncomplaining resolve and support of each other and a devotion to their family and friends that is without equal in the history of the royal families of Europe.

Second, the author assumes that anyone picking up this book already has a working knowledge of the fall of the Romanov dynasty and the rise of communism in Russia. As a result, this is not an exciting book of international betrayal and intrigue. Characters that took center stage in the events leading up to the revolution are peripheral to this book. Events that produced huge repercussions are referred to only in passing and the focus is entirely on the day-to-day lives of the Romanov family; lives remarkably devoid of power struggles and plots so common in royal history.

Finally, the Russian propensity for nicknames can make following the lives of the tutors, governesses and servants that orbit the lives of the Romanovs for decades. I do think Rapport could have done a better job assisting the reader with keeping track of them and that prevents me giving a 5-star review to this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Becky
  • McKinney, TX, United States
  • 04-10-17

Hauntingly wonderful.

Such a sad story, but glad it has been told in detail in the girls' own words.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Too Long

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Not so much, the lives of this familty and the girls are way over romaticized. And the reader, though excellent becomes over sappy. The story completey leaves out the resposibility of the family as monarchs and how they utterly failed.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending is so tragic however, could it have possible been dragged out any longer than in this book!?!?

What about Xe Sands’s performance did you like?

She is a strong reader.

Could you see The Romanov Sisters being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Finally...no longer OTMA

This book really gives each one of the girls their own distinct personalities, which hasn't bee done before. The story will always be sad but at least we can see the girls now as individuals.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful