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The Passion of Marie Romanov Kindle Edition
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|Length: 272 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
The triumph is in how author Laura Rose depicts how the Romanovs lived their lives in captivity following the October 1917 revolution. Marie Romanov, a mid-teenaged Grand Duchess, chafes in her diary at their deflated way of life but powers on, making the best of things. Russian fatalism haunts the novel. Marie and her sisters frequently reminisce about the way things had been, to the point of remembering favorite menus and meals. The disconnect between the imperial lifestyle and the real world of Russia in turmoil after World War I is palpable. Sometimes Marie shows that she understands the irreality, but at heart she longs to return to it. This tension is beautifully developed.
While Marie is the focus of the novel, how each member of the household, royals and servants alike, and their various Bolshevik captors react is carefully developed. Every character is complex and richly depicted. Ex-Tsar Nicholas is totally dysfunctional and fatalistic but intrinsically likeable; pulling off this characterization is quite a feat. The dynamics of the relationships of parents and children before and after the fall are depicted in smooth, often lyrical passages. Few emotions are left unexamined. The book brims with facts but they are always woven into the narrative. One can learn things from <i>The Passion of Marie Romanov,</i> but one never feels taught.
I majored in Russian literature half a century ago and lived among Russian Orthodox for decades, so my perspective might not be typical of other readers, but I was fully satisfied by the novel and believe that readers with no particular background in this area will thoroughly enjoy it and benefit from the reading.
Marie shares her insights about her invalid, put-upon and overbearing mother, the Tsarita Alexandra, her weak father, Tsar Nicholas, who never wanted to be the Tsar, as well as her sisters and brother, the "healer" Rasputin, and the retinue of servants who stayed loyal to the family until the end. Marie writes as the girl of almost 19 that she is, and we learn of her dreams and hopes and love for her family, especially Anastasia, who is called Shvybz (the nickname was a little frustrating to me because I didn't know how to pronounce it). Even though I knew how it would the story would turn out, the end of the book was extremely harrowing and sad. If you are interested in the Romanov family as told from the perspective of one of the Grand Duchess', I would recommend this book.
The novel conveys the tragic history of the Russian royal family from shortly before the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II to their brutal executions. It is told primarily through Marie's diary, which is supplemented by the testimony of the young guard who rescued it. The narrative is beautifully paced, and the descriptions are absolutely gripping. Although the history is (or should be) familiar to most readers, Rose nevertheless interpolates a few minor surprises for us. However, it is the powerful portrayal of the characters that truly propels the work, aided by extraordinary passages that bring the Russian winter, the hazardous travel, and the savagery of the Bolsheviks to life.
Bottom line: a splendid historical novel.
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