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Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina

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The dramatic story of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia—A penetrating and deeply personal study that gives profound psychological insight into their marriage and how it shaped the  events that engulfed them. There are few characters in history about whom opinion has been more divided than the last Tsar of Russia, The dramatic story of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia—A penetrating and deeply personal study that gives profound psychological insight into their marriage and how it shaped the  events that engulfed them. There are few characters in history about whom opinion has been more divided than the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and his wife the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. On one hand, they are venerated as saints, innocent victims of Bolshevik assassins, and on the other they are impugned as the unwitting harbingers of revolution and imperial collapse, blamed for all the ills that befell the Russian people in the 20th century. Theirs was also a tragic love story; for whatever else can be said of them, there can be no doubt that Alix and Nicky adored one another. Soon after their engagement, Alix wrote in her fiancé’s diary: “Ever true and ever loving, faithful, pure and strong as death”—words which met their fulfillment twenty-four years later in a blood-spattered cellar in Ekaterinburg. Through the letters and diaries written by the couple and by those around them, Virginia Rounding presents an intimate, penetrating, and fresh portrayal of these two complex figures and of their passion—their love and their suffering. She explores the nature and possible causes of the Empress’s ill health, and examines in depth the enigmatic triangular relationship between Nicky, Alix and their ‘favourite,’ Ania Vyrubova, protégée of the infamous Rasputin, extracting the meaning from words left unsaid, from hints and innuendoes.. The story of Alix and Nicky, of their four daughters known collectively as ‘OTMA’ and of their hemophiliac little boy Alexei, is endlessly fascinating, and Rounding makes these characters come alive, presenting them in all their human dimensions and expertly leading the reader into their vanished world.


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The dramatic story of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia—A penetrating and deeply personal study that gives profound psychological insight into their marriage and how it shaped the  events that engulfed them. There are few characters in history about whom opinion has been more divided than the last Tsar of Russia, The dramatic story of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia—A penetrating and deeply personal study that gives profound psychological insight into their marriage and how it shaped the  events that engulfed them. There are few characters in history about whom opinion has been more divided than the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and his wife the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. On one hand, they are venerated as saints, innocent victims of Bolshevik assassins, and on the other they are impugned as the unwitting harbingers of revolution and imperial collapse, blamed for all the ills that befell the Russian people in the 20th century. Theirs was also a tragic love story; for whatever else can be said of them, there can be no doubt that Alix and Nicky adored one another. Soon after their engagement, Alix wrote in her fiancé’s diary: “Ever true and ever loving, faithful, pure and strong as death”—words which met their fulfillment twenty-four years later in a blood-spattered cellar in Ekaterinburg. Through the letters and diaries written by the couple and by those around them, Virginia Rounding presents an intimate, penetrating, and fresh portrayal of these two complex figures and of their passion—their love and their suffering. She explores the nature and possible causes of the Empress’s ill health, and examines in depth the enigmatic triangular relationship between Nicky, Alix and their ‘favourite,’ Ania Vyrubova, protégée of the infamous Rasputin, extracting the meaning from words left unsaid, from hints and innuendoes.. The story of Alix and Nicky, of their four daughters known collectively as ‘OTMA’ and of their hemophiliac little boy Alexei, is endlessly fascinating, and Rounding makes these characters come alive, presenting them in all their human dimensions and expertly leading the reader into their vanished world.

30 review for Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    I really, really wanted to love this book. Massie's 'Nicholas & Alexandra' is one of my favorite books, so I was looking forward to this update now that much new information is available from the Russian archives. Overall, though the information it contained was good, this book was a disappointment. First of all, the organization was weird. Rounding begins with chapters organized by topic, but about halfway through switches to organizing each chapter chronologically, starting over again with I really, really wanted to love this book. Massie's 'Nicholas & Alexandra' is one of my favorite books, so I was looking forward to this update now that much new information is available from the Russian archives. Overall, though the information it contained was good, this book was a disappointment. First of all, the organization was weird. Rounding begins with chapters organized by topic, but about halfway through switches to organizing each chapter chronologically, starting over again with the beginning of their relationship. This seems really odd to me. As a historian and Russophile, I know enough of the story to understand what was going on, but someone less familiar with the Romanov family would probably get lost at the start of the book. Weaving the themes throughout the chronology is pretty standard for biographies, and deviating from that did not work well in this book. Secondly, the writing seemed very amateur to me. It read more like a graduate thesis than a work by a professional historian or writer. There were too many personal interjections and the editing seemed a little sloppy. There were also numerous instances where I felt like Rounding was really trying to force the story to fit her theme, rather than allowing the story to unfold. It was not a terrible book by any means. I enjoyed the increased emphasis on Nicky and Alix as people rather than political figures. There was some information that was new to me; the role of Anna Vyrubova was especially interesting. Overall, though, I found myself wishing that the book featuring all this new material about Nicholas and Alexandra had been written by someone more experienced. I'd much rather read another book by Robert Massie, updated with the new archival information, but alas, that does not yet exist. This book is interesting, but simply not as good as it could have been.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Alix and Nicky remained on my TBR shelf for over two years, and after reading, I have no idea why that was. Well, perhaps the fact that my copy is rather a large hardback which was incredibly difficult to juggle whilst in bed... I am a self-confessed Russian history nerd. I studied Russian history, from Peter the Great to the modern day, throughout my A Level History course and as part of my undergraduate degree. There's something about it which is both mysterious and compelling. It is perhaps no Alix and Nicky remained on my TBR shelf for over two years, and after reading, I have no idea why that was. Well, perhaps the fact that my copy is rather a large hardback which was incredibly difficult to juggle whilst in bed... I am a self-confessed Russian history nerd. I studied Russian history, from Peter the Great to the modern day, throughout my A Level History course and as part of my undergraduate degree. There's something about it which is both mysterious and compelling. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that I picked this up when I was on a trip to Oxford. Alix and Nicky is both rich and thorough, and I thought that the non-reliance upon a rigid chronological structure worked incredibly well. The writing is strong, the vocabulary varied, and the chapters wonderfully structured. I feel as though I learnt a lot whilst reading, which is always a bonus. Virginia Rounding is an author whom I haven't read before, but based upon this, I have added the rest of her bibliography to my to-read list, and have a feeling that there will be some gems in store for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Rounding

    Well, I would give it 5 stars, wouldn't I? Here's an extract from my Introduction to the book, which explains something about my approach to the writing of it: "The analogy that comes most readily to mind when writing a new book about such apparently well-known yet still controversial figures is that of curating an exhibition of some already famous artist. Just as the curator endeavors to present a different view, through judicious, sometimes idiosyncratic, selection, juxtaposition, ordering, and Well, I would give it 5 stars, wouldn't I? Here's an extract from my Introduction to the book, which explains something about my approach to the writing of it: "The analogy that comes most readily to mind when writing a new book about such apparently well-known yet still controversial figures is that of curating an exhibition of some already famous artist. Just as the curator endeavors to present a different view, through judicious, sometimes idiosyncratic, selection, juxtaposition, ordering, and even omission, so the biographer must select, consider, compare, and above all look with a fresh eye at what is already 'knownn' as well as seek out the previously 'unknown.' In so doing, curator and biographer may respectively light upon something that previous exhibitions and books have missed, some detail or a new way of seeing that may alter earlier perceptions. Through engaging closely with a number of texts, particularly diaries and letters - and sometimes looking at what is unsaid as much as what is said - I have aspired to come as close as possible to 'penetrating the souls' of these two complex characters, while presenting the story of their 'passion' (taken in both senses, of love and of suffering) in a way that I hope will pique the interest of both the Romanov expert and the general reader. At the same time - and again bearing in mind the curating analogy - mine is only one way of seeing, of arranging the material to allow the characters to appear, of 'telling the same story differently'. It may be almost as impossible to find the historical Nicholas and Alexandra as to find the historical Jesus, so much being dependent on the attitudes and beliefs of witnesses. There may be as many Nickys and Alixes as there are theories about them, their images distorted by the parts they are assigned in other people's mythologies. During their lifetime they were constantly surrounded by gossip, and sometimes it may seem that it has not yet died down. They were in addition extremely private people, only really known to one another - and maybe too shy even for such private knowledge to be complete. Nicky's own account of himself, in his diary, is designed to give little away; he was always restrained, rarely given to obvious self-expression (though at times his silence speaks volumes). And, as if misleading gossip on the one hand and considerable reticence on the other did not present sufficient obstacles to knowledge, Nicholas and Alexandra have now vanished even further from our sight, into the reflective surface of an icon - where the image as instrument of devotion is meant always to point beyond itself, to be seen through rather than stared at, the portal to a different sort of knowledge. As saints - if that is what they are, or might be - they have moved literally beyond our understanding."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tracie

    Maybe a 2.5. Title was misleading. I thought this was to be a love story but it was all about Alix's health problems and Nicky's indecisiveness. And it was so political. I also disliked the author's writing style. She was presumptuous and enjoyed acting as if she knew exactly what the family was thinking or meant the entire book. Her sources were shaky at best and her notes were badly done. And she bounced around too much. The last 50 pages were so boring and hard to get through.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jillian (PidginPea's Book Nook)

    I received this book for free as a First Reads giveaway. I have no doubt that in the right hands, this book would get a solid 5 out of 5 star rating. It is obvious that the book was thoroughly researched, and that the author has a great interest in this topic and a passion for acting as a "curator" to gather the various accounts and opinions of Alix and Nicky. I really admire and respect all the work that very clearly went into this book on the part of the author. Unfortunately, I didn't really e I received this book for free as a First Reads giveaway. I have no doubt that in the right hands, this book would get a solid 5 out of 5 star rating. It is obvious that the book was thoroughly researched, and that the author has a great interest in this topic and a passion for acting as a "curator" to gather the various accounts and opinions of Alix and Nicky. I really admire and respect all the work that very clearly went into this book on the part of the author. Unfortunately, I didn't really enjoy reading it. The "passion" that is in the title refers to both definitions of the word: emotion as well as suffering. When I first read the book's title, I took it to be the emotional kind of passion and looked forward to a book mostly about the love between Alix and Nicky. I think the book is actually heavier on the suffering side; there is a lot of detail about their struggles, their troubles relating to the Russian people, their personality traits, Alix's illness, etc. When the emotional side came up, I really got into it and read eagerly. But there seemed to be more talk of politics and military events; there just wasn't enough of their love story for me. Don't get me wrong - I love history, and I love non-fiction history/biography books, but this book didn't bring history to life for me. It was a rather dry restating of facts and events. The book is separated into chapters that highlight important aspects of Alix and Nicky's lives. The chapters bounce around quite a bit, not really following any chronological order. One minute we're reading about Nicky's childhood, the next Alix is a grown woman and has been married to Nicky for years, the next Alix and Nicky are writing love letters to each other before they were engaged, and the next we're reading about Nicky's childhood again. Another issue, although this is no fault of the author's, is the Russian names of friends, family, and important figures - they are all pretty similar (to my American eyes) and it was hard to keep track of who was who. The author does provide a list of characters, essentially, at the front of the book, and also gives a little reminder each time a character is brought up of what role they play, but I still became very confused very quickly. I have to state again just how much effort clearly went into this book, and how sure I am that someone else would give this a shining review. But to me, it was simply "ok" - it's just not my type of book. I had to force myself to sit down and read, and then I found myself flipping ahead to see how much more I had to read before I got to the end of the chapter. Because of this, I just can't give it better than 2 stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Nicholas and Alexandria had three passions : their passion for each other, their passion to keep their rule autocratic, and their passion for suffering. They apparently felt they were fated to suffer, so they were passive about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that fell upon themselves. Those that fell upon their son Alexis, they were not so passive about. I found the book both sad and interesting. Sad because those two shy people just could not be the autocrats their ancestors were. S Nicholas and Alexandria had three passions : their passion for each other, their passion to keep their rule autocratic, and their passion for suffering. They apparently felt they were fated to suffer, so they were passive about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that fell upon themselves. Those that fell upon their son Alexis, they were not so passive about. I found the book both sad and interesting. Sad because those two shy people just could not be the autocrats their ancestors were. Sad because they thought they Must Be Autocrats, when, if they had more political savvy, they could have worked with their ministers to start the process of turning Russia into a constitutional monarchy. They weren't cut off from the rest of Europe. They must've seen what worked and what didn't in their relation's countries. Sad because Alix knew her son's suffering came from her genes (Her brother Frittie and her uncle Leopold had hemophilia) Sad because Alix did so want to Do Something - else she would not have got up from her chaise lounge and try to nurse and then to govern the country while Nicky was at war. The bits about Alix's illnesses were quite interesting. Could the porphyria George III allegedly suffered been passed down to her? Was it that and not just her shyness that turned her from an active child to a reclusive bedridden empress? Also, the Imperial Family's home life was not as idyllic as depicted in other books. The Grand Duchesses were not one personality ("OTMA") in four bodies but four different personalities who at times were catty towards each other. The Empress and Ania Verboyva were not so much bosom chums as rivals for the Tsar's affections.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Arzu

    I have always been fascinated with the Romanovs due to a childhood obsession with the film 'Anastasia.' I also did a project on them for my European history class during my freshman year in high school. However, I did not realize how ignorant I was on their history until I read this book. I was blown away by how Virginia Rounding manage to personalize all the Romanovs, especially Alix & Nicky. It was amazing being able to read letters of theirs and to really get to know their personalities. A I have always been fascinated with the Romanovs due to a childhood obsession with the film 'Anastasia.' I also did a project on them for my European history class during my freshman year in high school. However, I did not realize how ignorant I was on their history until I read this book. I was blown away by how Virginia Rounding manage to personalize all the Romanovs, especially Alix & Nicky. It was amazing being able to read letters of theirs and to really get to know their personalities. As a history graduate, I honestly felt like I had come across a gold mine. I also enjoyed just how human they were, because I think for a long time the Romanovs seemed to be like mythical characters to me. I found myself relating to Alix on an anxiety/depression level because from what I read it seemed as though she did suffer from both issues as well as agoraphobia. I honestly couldn't put the book down. The names of family members did get a bit confusing after a while, with people being named after each other or having similar names, but the overall gist of the book - the humanity, the frailty, of the Romanovs - came across really well. I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing for a more personal look inside one of history's most famous families.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18)

    I enjoyed the informative but tedious early chapters of this book which include in better detail Nicky and Alix's relationships they kept from the rest of the family, especially with Anna Vyrubova. However, the chapters were too long and the book suffered from a combination of "Anastasia's Secret disorder" (bad earlier, chapter, good later chapter) and "Natasha's Dance disorder" (good, informative beginning, confusing later chapters). Most of the book could have been rated at 4 stars, despite th I enjoyed the informative but tedious early chapters of this book which include in better detail Nicky and Alix's relationships they kept from the rest of the family, especially with Anna Vyrubova. However, the chapters were too long and the book suffered from a combination of "Anastasia's Secret disorder" (bad earlier, chapter, good later chapter) and "Natasha's Dance disorder" (good, informative beginning, confusing later chapters). Most of the book could have been rated at 4 stars, despite the amount of concentration required to read it, but I found chapter eleven unimportant and tedious, discussing a large collection of ministers Nicholas and Alexandra were appointing and not appointing. I might have not finished this book, but I decided I wouldn't be too lost if I skipped a couple pages, so I technically finished it. Despite chapter eleven, chapter twelve was well-done, but not quite deserving a spot on my almost-cried shelf, so I think three stars is fitting and I still will read Catherine the Great: Love, Sex, and Power.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    This is a pretty rough read. Not because it's not a compelling story-- it is, though it can be dense at times and perhaps overly confusing in the description of the ministerial musical chairs and other things-- it's more because the story is almost too compelling. We know, most people, that Alexandra and Nicholas, their five children, three servants, and personal doctor were shot in a cellar maybe a year after the tsar abdicated. What made this book so difficult for me was that I got to know Alex This is a pretty rough read. Not because it's not a compelling story-- it is, though it can be dense at times and perhaps overly confusing in the description of the ministerial musical chairs and other things-- it's more because the story is almost too compelling. We know, most people, that Alexandra and Nicholas, their five children, three servants, and personal doctor were shot in a cellar maybe a year after the tsar abdicated. What made this book so difficult for me was that I got to know Alexandra and Nicholas very well, almost personally, and I knew all along what was going to happen. Around the chapter where Nicholas abdicated, I nearly stopped reading. The last chapter is very worthwhile, though. It intersperses Biblical quotations with an almost lyrical description of the family's months of confinement, and then discusses the subsequent canonization of the family with gentle speculation. This whole book is like that, actually, minus the Biblical quotations-- clear-eyed but kind, and well worth the read if you are interested in the last Russian tsar.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    This book was really fascinating concerning the relationship between Nicky and Alix and their children. It really went into Rasputin's huge influence over the family. The main things I has problems with was the author jumping around switching to events sometimes out of order. Nicky and Alix's anti-Semitism really turned me off and Alix's using her invalid state as a tool to control her children. My favorite parts were when the author did a personality test on Nicky with very accurate results tha This book was really fascinating concerning the relationship between Nicky and Alix and their children. It really went into Rasputin's huge influence over the family. The main things I has problems with was the author jumping around switching to events sometimes out of order. Nicky and Alix's anti-Semitism really turned me off and Alix's using her invalid state as a tool to control her children. My favorite parts were when the author did a personality test on Nicky with very accurate results that helped the reader understand him better because he was so reserved. I also found the ending dramatically written and eerie with Biblical texts comparing the Romanovs fate and how they courageously approached it. Over all, it was a very interesting book, sometimes tiring to read, sometimes really fascinating. The author really brings out the Romanov's complex personalities and humanity that has often been mislabeled. Having had a dream about the Romanovs, this book was very interesting to explore who they were better. Recommended for any bio buffs.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    I am going to be brutally honest here and state right up front that I did not like this book very much. While I appreciated some aspects, such as the descriptions of the palaces, and various celebrations such as in 1913 and the coronation, the author's attitude was sarcastic and at times snide -- that's hard to take in a nonfiction, historical book. Most frustrating was the nonlinear format of telling the story, and the constant jumping about by the author -- it was annoying and made the story d I am going to be brutally honest here and state right up front that I did not like this book very much. While I appreciated some aspects, such as the descriptions of the palaces, and various celebrations such as in 1913 and the coronation, the author's attitude was sarcastic and at times snide -- that's hard to take in a nonfiction, historical book. Most frustrating was the nonlinear format of telling the story, and the constant jumping about by the author -- it was annoying and made the story difficult to follow. Three stars overall, not recommended. For the longer review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/review/Virgin...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is an account of the love story, and the tragedy, of the ill-fated Nicholas and Alexandra. As one reviewer on Amazon pointed out, it's more of a psychological study of the pair than a straight biography--and if you don't have at least a basic knowledge of this period, you may find yourself lost at times. The author relies heavily on the couple's letters, which (especially in Alix's case) are variously heartbreaking, mushy, appalling, and poignant. Rounding is sympathetic toward her subjects This is an account of the love story, and the tragedy, of the ill-fated Nicholas and Alexandra. As one reviewer on Amazon pointed out, it's more of a psychological study of the pair than a straight biography--and if you don't have at least a basic knowledge of this period, you may find yourself lost at times. The author relies heavily on the couple's letters, which (especially in Alix's case) are variously heartbreaking, mushy, appalling, and poignant. Rounding is sympathetic toward her subjects but takes a clear-eyed view of their faults. I'm not knowledgeable about this period, but the book seems to have met with favor from those who are. I recommend it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Belle Meri

    While there is some material in this book not mentioned in other books on the Romanovs, I was thoroughly frustrated by a combination of the writing style, chapter arrangement, and the complete lack of in-line footnotes/endnotes. Though there is a list at the end of quotations noting where they came from, it's nearly useless when trying to evaluate them in the context of the book. Sadly, I can't recommend this book to anyone, even those deeply interested and/or invested in the Romanovs.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Temperance

    While I wasn't a fan of how the information was organized (the order was chaotic and extremely confusing), I did enjoy learning a few new facts.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ally Kumari

    Having read quite a few biographies of Nicholas and Alexandra, I was not sure if there would be anything new for me in this book. And while most of the information were indeed not "new", the way they are organized, presented and interpreted make the publication truly wonderful. Perhaps because this time the writer is a woman (most of the Romanov fiction is written by men) the politics is not the main topic. Instead we are invited to the most intimate circle of the last Imperial couple and explor Having read quite a few biographies of Nicholas and Alexandra, I was not sure if there would be anything new for me in this book. And while most of the information were indeed not "new", the way they are organized, presented and interpreted make the publication truly wonderful. Perhaps because this time the writer is a woman (most of the Romanov fiction is written by men) the politics is not the main topic. Instead we are invited to the most intimate circle of the last Imperial couple and explore their feelings and inner world. The author takes a sympathetic view of both Nicholas and Alexandra, but provides logical arguments for her conclusions and there is neither positive bias nor ironic scorn one is now used to see when reading about these people. Some of the issues analyzed (which tend to be mentioned, but remain unexplored by other authors), include the real state of Alexandra´s health and the less than ideal relationship of the couple with Anna Vyrubova. I was also pleasantly surprised at how well the whole family is presented as a tightly-knit unit - as opposed to the popular narrative of Alexandra giving her all to Alexei, while the daughters are virtually non-existent. The first half of the book does not really move chronologically, which may be taxing for readers without previous knowledge of the timeline, but to me it added to the experience - again because I have read many Romanov books and this one, thanks to the "time-travel" was different.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    This novel is very short in length but full of depth. This novel just isn't about the love of Nicky and Alix, but also the political downfall of Nicky and all of Alix's health issues. There was a lot of information within this novel, but the majority of everything was political. I did not enjoy the lay out of this novel -- it starts out in later years and then goes back to when Alix and Nicky meet and fall in love. I was hoping of more of their love and companionship after Nicky abdicates the th This novel is very short in length but full of depth. This novel just isn't about the love of Nicky and Alix, but also the political downfall of Nicky and all of Alix's health issues. There was a lot of information within this novel, but the majority of everything was political. I did not enjoy the lay out of this novel -- it starts out in later years and then goes back to when Alix and Nicky meet and fall in love. I was hoping of more of their love and companionship after Nicky abdicates the throne. The ending of the novel was rough in my opinion. We barely witness their captivity. The family is murdered and the rest of the pages are about whether of not the family should be canonized. I appreciated however, the end of the novel describing the DNA analysis, and wish there would have been a bit more of that. This novel was decent, but hard to read. Although the subject matter is something of interest it was difficult to set time aside to read this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    It was good enough, however, the author allows her obvious dislike of Alix come through far too often, and takes letters and diary entries out of context. The fact that Alix was shy seems to bother her. It was odd to read. Why write a book about someone you don't seem to care for? Also, she moves back at forth through events in a somewhat random manner. Especially when reading about historical events, I prefer them in a chronological telling. There are better books about the last year and his fa It was good enough, however, the author allows her obvious dislike of Alix come through far too often, and takes letters and diary entries out of context. The fact that Alix was shy seems to bother her. It was odd to read. Why write a book about someone you don't seem to care for? Also, she moves back at forth through events in a somewhat random manner. Especially when reading about historical events, I prefer them in a chronological telling. There are better books about the last year and his family.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kristine

    Nothing special, I’d even say it was a disappointment. The good thing is that this book has increased my interest in history of Russia and Romanov family. But, unfortunately the book lacks construction that is so important for historical literature. Also, many assumptions were not based on facts, just made on some phrases in letters between Alix and Nicholas. Nope, that’s already fiction. It’s too good for two stars and actually too bad for three. If I could I’d give it 2.5.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    An excellent intimate look at the relationship between Nicholas and Alexandra. A few parts are rather ponderous when the author drifts into political and religious discourse, but overall the narrative is solid. The arrangement of the chapters was quite odd and seemed very random, which for introductory readers, might be confusing in following the story of the couple.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amie

    I tried, I really did, but this book was boring. The writing was dull, the chapters are far too long, and it was just hard to get into. I love Alix & Nicky and enjoy reading everything I can about their tragic lives. This just didn't work for me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    This book was disappointing. It followed no chronological order and jumped all over. Rasputin and Anna Vyrubova were hardly mentioned at all. Little was spoken about the time, that the family was held as prisoners, before they were executed. There were a couple of little gems in Alix's story. First, on their 21st anniversary, Alix and Nicky were apart, however, Alix mentions in a letter to Nicky, that she had put on her brooch, to remind her of him. I believe , she is referring to his magnificent This book was disappointing. It followed no chronological order and jumped all over. Rasputin and Anna Vyrubova were hardly mentioned at all. Little was spoken about the time, that the family was held as prisoners, before they were executed. There were a couple of little gems in Alix's story. First, on their 21st anniversary, Alix and Nicky were apart, however, Alix mentions in a letter to Nicky, that she had put on her brooch, to remind her of him. I believe , she is referring to his magnificent engagement present to her, which was an enormous Siberian aquamarine and diamond brooch, set by Faberge. I have seen this piece in an exhibition catalogue and it is breath taking.It was apparently lost for many years and recently discovered after it was cleaned. The numbers on the piece were matched to an inventory list made by Faberge.This piece, along with the engagement picture of Nicky and Alix, wearing the brooch, can be seen on the cover of a catalogue by Wartski, the famous British jewellers, entitled "Faberge and the Russian Jewellers A Loan Exhibition". Second (a gem for me only), Nicky mentions that he reviewed troops in the recently captured cities of Lvov and Przemysl, which was heavily bombed, since it was on the front. Right after he told Alix, the cities were re-captured by the Austrians. Both cities, were located in Galicia, Poland and were the birthplaces of my grandparents. My grandmother told me of her family's travail, during the war and how her father met the Kaiser.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    This is the first nonfiction book that I have read on Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Obviously, I knew the basics and by reading a few fictional books on Anastasia and plain research I grasped a little bit of what their life was like. However, that is not what this book focuses on. Instead, from this book, I learned what the relationship was like between Alix and Nicky. As someone who knew nearly nothing of them, this book was an eye-opener. I was previously unaware of the absolute devotion th This is the first nonfiction book that I have read on Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Obviously, I knew the basics and by reading a few fictional books on Anastasia and plain research I grasped a little bit of what their life was like. However, that is not what this book focuses on. Instead, from this book, I learned what the relationship was like between Alix and Nicky. As someone who knew nearly nothing of them, this book was an eye-opener. I was previously unaware of the absolute devotion that they had to one another. They sort of stayed in the "honeymoon phase" of their relationship for over 20 years. This book not only shows the lives of this family, but also interprets letters to find out emotions of them and decipher the sort of "love triangle" between the Tsar, Tsarina, and Ania. The great part of this book is that you don't have to be an expert on the Romanovs to understand it. Although a lot of information is given, it almost reads like a novel and explains what is happening so clearly that anyone can easily grasp it. I really did enjoy this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I have read a number of books about the last imperial couple of Russia, but this one explored the relationship between them more than any other. Referencing their personal letters, it explored their devotion to one another as well as their individual personalities. It explored Alix's temperament in relation to her invalidism and this was the first time I've encountered an author who presented a possible diagnosis of her maladies (porphyria, a genetic condition, exacerbated by her stressful life I have read a number of books about the last imperial couple of Russia, but this one explored the relationship between them more than any other. Referencing their personal letters, it explored their devotion to one another as well as their individual personalities. It explored Alix's temperament in relation to her invalidism and this was the first time I've encountered an author who presented a possible diagnosis of her maladies (porphyria, a genetic condition, exacerbated by her stressful life and inherited from her royal ancestors). It also addressed the curious relationship between her, Anna V., and Nicky and the jealousies that were inflamed. A large portion of the latter half focused on Alix's letters to Nicky at army headquarters during WWI when she was at her bossiest and most influenced by Rasputin. There was very little about their imprisonment and murders, but their legacy was addressed. It wasn't the most captivating biography of Nicky and Alix that I have read, but it was an essential piece of the overall cannon.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Callie Stockman

    I have always been extremely loyal to Robert K. Massie when it comes to all things Romanov. I never even saw the point of reading anything about the last Romanov family than his classic "Nicholas and Alexandra." Over the last few years, however, I've branched a little, reading Montefiore's "The Romanovs: 1613-1918" as well as Radzinsky's "The Last Tsar." Why not throw Rounding's book into the hat? Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I would say her writing is easier to digest if not as deep. She I have always been extremely loyal to Robert K. Massie when it comes to all things Romanov. I never even saw the point of reading anything about the last Romanov family than his classic "Nicholas and Alexandra." Over the last few years, however, I've branched a little, reading Montefiore's "The Romanovs: 1613-1918" as well as Radzinsky's "The Last Tsar." Why not throw Rounding's book into the hat? Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I would say her writing is easier to digest if not as deep. She doesn't go into a lot of detail on either the war with Japan or World War I and she offers no discussion whatsoever of Rasputin's death. However, she did spend a good deal more time on the bizarre love triangle of Ania, Alix, and Nicholas which I particularly enjoyed. Her book did not challenge Massie's in my heart, but I might recommend this over "Nicholas and Alexandra" depending on who I was recommending it too.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Thea

    The topic of the last Tsar and Tsarina has been one that has fascinated me for many, many years, after I read Robert Massie's biography of the couple way back in the 1980s. I have read many books about them, their place in history, and the reasons for their tragic end. Most of the books were non-fiction with a few fiction thrown in (Robert Alexander, catherine Gaskin etc.) While this particular title did not add much new information on the royal couple, it did put everything together in a really The topic of the last Tsar and Tsarina has been one that has fascinated me for many, many years, after I read Robert Massie's biography of the couple way back in the 1980s. I have read many books about them, their place in history, and the reasons for their tragic end. Most of the books were non-fiction with a few fiction thrown in (Robert Alexander, catherine Gaskin etc.) While this particular title did not add much new information on the royal couple, it did put everything together in a really interesting and informative way. The author covers many topics in a non-chronological way. But the end result is the picture of a man and a woman who deeply loved one another and the Lord, even though their worship was seriously flawed by their loyalty and love towards Rasputin. It is and will always be one of the most tragic stories in history, a beautiful family born to die in a senseless and violent manner.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I enjoyed this book for it's ability to open the world of the Tsar through the letters of those who were living it. My only complaint was not moving chronologically. The chapters were labeled with the years it covered which was helpful but within the chapters, paragraphs would jump 5 years from current events than back, causing me to backtrack and reread certain passages for clarity. Although I knew the fate of all characters involved the book held my attention and gave insight and depth to the I enjoyed this book for it's ability to open the world of the Tsar through the letters of those who were living it. My only complaint was not moving chronologically. The chapters were labeled with the years it covered which was helpful but within the chapters, paragraphs would jump 5 years from current events than back, causing me to backtrack and reread certain passages for clarity. Although I knew the fate of all characters involved the book held my attention and gave insight and depth to the knowledge I already had. I would repeat the advice of other reviewers to have some background in the culture, time, places involved. The author provided a character list, family tree but with multiple people having the same name, Russian nicknames, all the royal families of Europe being related...this book is not for someone new to early 20th century history.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Terri Durling

    I have always been fascinated with the story of the Romanovs and their part in Russian history. This is a very personal protrayal of the relationship between Alix and Nicky and fairly well done. It was interesting to read about their personalities and it even goes so far as to detail their personalities with the Myers-Briggs theory. It does into detail about Alix's pregnancies and that she gave birth to fairly large size babies. Much is said about their differences as well - she being portrayed I have always been fascinated with the story of the Romanovs and their part in Russian history. This is a very personal protrayal of the relationship between Alix and Nicky and fairly well done. It was interesting to read about their personalities and it even goes so far as to detail their personalities with the Myers-Briggs theory. It does into detail about Alix's pregnancies and that she gave birth to fairly large size babies. Much is said about their differences as well - she being portrayed as somewhat of a hypocondriac; whereas Nicky is very into regular exercise. Their devotion to each other and their love for one another is inspiring but it also contributed greatly to their downfall. Their story is a sad one and one can only think if only ... but there were no if only's for this doomed family who took their place in Russian history.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Harris

    "One of the great strengths of Rounding’s work is her analysis of Nicholas’s and Alexandra’s diaries and letters for evidence of their cultural tastes. Their favourite novels are discussed in detail, the contrast between their enjoyment of mainstream Tchaikovsky ballets and the avant garde tastes of the broader Russian court receives sustained attention. Rounding’s use of memoir literature and newspaper articles of the period illuminates the reasons why their living spaces were considered “bourg "One of the great strengths of Rounding’s work is her analysis of Nicholas’s and Alexandra’s diaries and letters for evidence of their cultural tastes. Their favourite novels are discussed in detail, the contrast between their enjoyment of mainstream Tchaikovsky ballets and the avant garde tastes of the broader Russian court receives sustained attention. Rounding’s use of memoir literature and newspaper articles of the period illuminates the reasons why their living spaces were considered “bourgeois” to aristocratic observers and appeared to emphasize the Imperial couple’s separation from the larger court.| For the full review, visit http://www.royalhistorian.com/the-val...

  29. 5 out of 5

    KyBunnies

    This book was a goodreads.com first read contest win. This book was very interesting. This book allowing insight into something that few people know. While this type of book is not what I usually read I was drawn into this book. Reading about a Tsar and Tsarina I kept wondering how there life's are changed by the whim of the people. Everyone has choices in life whether it is to go one way or the other. This book portrays exactly that in the life of Alix and Nicky. Did they do what was right? In t This book was a goodreads.com first read contest win. This book was very interesting. This book allowing insight into something that few people know. While this type of book is not what I usually read I was drawn into this book. Reading about a Tsar and Tsarina I kept wondering how there life's are changed by the whim of the people. Everyone has choices in life whether it is to go one way or the other. This book portrays exactly that in the life of Alix and Nicky. Did they do what was right? In there eyes they probably did. This is my opinion based on this book. It no way reflects the author or the book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hal

    I have read a number of books on the last Tsar and Tsarina as I find it a fascinating subject. This book was OK, and added more to my knowledge about them. Based extensively on letters written between them and related people in history. I think the most interesting insight I gained was that Alexandra's meddling and championing of the monk Rasputin certainly hastened their demise. However in spite of this they probably would have suffered the same fate as Nicholas never seemed to get a grip on han I have read a number of books on the last Tsar and Tsarina as I find it a fascinating subject. This book was OK, and added more to my knowledge about them. Based extensively on letters written between them and related people in history. I think the most interesting insight I gained was that Alexandra's meddling and championing of the monk Rasputin certainly hastened their demise. However in spite of this they probably would have suffered the same fate as Nicholas never seemed to get a grip on handling the many ministers and enemies bound to topple his reign. The end is always sad to read and it always leaves me with the what if questions had they survived.

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