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Russian Court at Sea Paperback – August 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books (August 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907595708
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907595707
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #668,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"An engrossing account of the flight of the surviving Romanovs after the 1917 Revolution." Sunday Express "A gripping account of the Romanovs' choppy passage into exile. Welch's detective work has produced a book that is wonderfully witty and sad by turns." Mail on Sunday "The book's readability and telling use of detail are splendid." Spectator "A quirky and gripping vignette of 20th-century Russian history." Sunday Times "A gripping account of the Romanovs choppy passage into exile. Welch s detective work has produced a book that is wonderfully witty and sad by turns." Mail on Sunday "Yes, it's been told before, but the 1919 exile of the Romanov family from Russia, in which they sailed on HMS Marlborough, is a splendidly exotic story that is well worth another airing; and Frances Welsh does it grippingly here, with lots of details I hadn't come across before. I loved to read of the goods they brought with them, including rolled-up Rembrandt paintings, Faberge eggs and other treasures of the sort. What a pilgrimage, to be sure." Sunday Telegraph "A fascinating, poignant portrait of a bizarre collection of people caught up in the chaos of their exodus" Irish Times "A voyage of delight - revealing, fascinating and by turns shocking and amusing - a story so extraordinary that it reads like a novel." Lancashire Evening Post

About the Author

Frances Welch is author of The Romanov & Mr Gibbes (Short Books, 2003) and A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson (Short Books, 2007) She is married to the writer Craig Brown, and has two children. She lives in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
Massies books are a good start to gain the background.
Alex BC
Much detailed info. regarding the Yusupov family who were on the same ship and suffered the same fate as the Romanov's.
The Russian servants created a very different impression.
Susan Southworth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Russian Bride on January 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book tells the story of the mass exodus of some of the Romanov family, members of the Russian court and their retainers, in 1919 from the Crimea. At the insistence of the Queen Alexandra the HMS Marlborough and a flotilla of British ships were sent to evacuate her sister, the Empress Marie, aka Dagmar. The Marlborough sailed from Yalta to Prince's Island outside of Constantinople, then to Malta.

The story of the Marlborough is one of the few Romanov stories which has a happy ending. If you are a hard core Romanovophile you will know the story and doubtless own Pridham's Close of a Dynasty on which this book relies heavily. So is it worth buying and reading? An emphatic yes. Not only are Pridham and Ingham long out of print but Welch has updated the story using more recently published texts, including Prince Roman's autobiography, Preben Ulstrup's fabulous book, and the Flight of the Romanovs. She adds to our knowledge of divisions within the greater Romanov family and provides insight into domestic life.

More than that, Welch is a good and conscientious writer (if a bit journalistic) who has undertaken her own research. She has consulted newspapers, unpublished memoirs and diaries, other archival material and she has conducted a number of interviews. Unfortunately her research draws attention to one of the major weaknesses of the book. As per her 2 earlier forays into the Romanov family there is not a reference or a footnote in sight. And bless her she doesn't feel the need to address this lack. There is also no index.

If you're hard core you'll probably be able to identify most of the sources but I have to say several had me stymied. Where for example do we find the underground newspaper produced at Ai Todor, the Merry Arnold?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan Southworth on November 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Frances Welch's chronicle offers an intimate glimpse of the Dowager Empress Marie's 1919 escape from post-revolutionary Russia. She and nineteen members of the Imperial family were rescued by a British warship, HMS Marlborough. The author's division of the royals into "Ai-Todors" and "Dulbers," the names of the Crimean estates where each group was imprisoned, is a clever way to help the reader keep track of the inter-familial rivalries and resentments. Although thrown into close proximity, the British officers were never aware of the tensions within the Imperial family, perhaps, in part because they did not know Russian.

The Romanovs coped without complaint with the duress of leaving their beloved Russia and roughing it on a warship. Crowding so many civilians into close quarters could easily have led to irritability, or even, near mutiny. Instead, the British fell into a mass infatuation with their royal passengers. For Russian Easter the crew painted boiled eggs for the Russian refugees' breakfast. The children's eggs were painted with a view of the ship, their initials in Russian characters and "XB" symbolizing, "Christ is Risen". That day First Lieutenant Francis Pridham wrote in his journal, "It is extraordinary how they appreciate a little thing like that-the reason why we are all in love with them from the Empress down to the one-year-old baby."

The Russian servants created a very different impression. Pridham wrote, "The chief difficulty is the Russian servants who are worse than useless, even when told to stand by their luggage for a few minutes they got tired of it and wandered away." The royals, by contrast, were indulgent to their servants; some even gave up their bunks to a servant.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. Bentley on August 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a great read but could do better, as my school reports used to say.

I began at the beginning, with the Dramatis Personae. Top of the bill is the mother of the Tsar, the Dowager Empress. Then we have the Tsar's sister and her children - two sons and a daughter, who are therefore the Tsar's nephews and niece. But the Dramatis Personae insists they are the Tsar's grandchildren! No, they're the Dowager's grandchildren.

Six pages in we read about the Dowager's five grandsons. Five? Back to the Dramatis Personae. Just two grandsons there. Help! Which arrives on page 49, in the form of a photo of, yes, five grandsons. So three of them were spear-carriers who didn't make it to the Dramatis Personae, poor darlings. But then it's a big cast. Talking of which, the Dramatis Personae is useful but even more useful would be a family tree for the two branches of the Romanovs, the Ai-Todors and the Dulbers - I kept getting lost without one. Before embarking on a second reading (geddit?) I made one for myself and found it much easier to keep tabs on who was who.

Ai-Todor and Dulber we quickly learn are the names of relevant Romanov palaces; and it would have been good to have had photos of them - Dulber in particular is a wonderfully OTT Moroccan pleasure dome. There are photos on the internet but in this book all we get is a scrappy snap of another palace, Koreiz. And could we not have a little map of how they and Yalta, the principal port, sit on the Crimean coast? And Sevastopol while we're at it, as that features also.

The author lives at Aldeburgh, on the coast of my sea-girt island home, with boats galore bobbing about the briny, so why on earth aren't we told more about the boat at the centre of the tale, HMS Marlborough?
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