Author: Sarah Miller
Series: Stand Alone
Published: Available now from Athenum
Source: Galley Grab program
Description: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand--first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand dutchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together--sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and 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 together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined. At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, this novel by acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion.
I Give This ...
It's hard to rate this book because it's really worth the read. Especially if you have any sort of interest in the last Tsar of Imperial Russia and his family. It's different than other books I've read about them in the sense that it's told from the Dutchesses points of view. And I would think of this as historical fiction at it's purest. You know things are fabricated, but you get the feeling that this could be how they felt about the things happening around them. It read almost like a biography.
I really enjoyed many aspects of this novel. While switching between 4 points of view could get confusing at times, Miller manages to give each sister distinct personalities. With each voice, we learn how each sister felt about what was happening around them. I also felt a true sense of family among them. No matter what, they were in it together. I was surprised at how naive they seemed to be about the outside world. They lead extremely sheltered lives. I while it was one of privilege, in many ways it wasn't. It seems the life the people didn't see differed greatly from the ones the commoners did see.
What stuck me most of the common thread of hope and trust that each of the sisters shared. I almost wish to know how the Tsar and Empress felt during this time. The sisters took each humiliation in stride with the dignity of royalty. They also felt like eventually the people would see the error of their ways and release them. That above all the common love of Russia would set them free. During all of this they never seemed to behave as if they were in captivity and treated no better than criminals.
What was hardest for me about the book, and why I gave it a 3 rating, is that it's long. The longer this book gets, the more you care about the sisters. The more you care, the more depressing it gets. Because no matter what happens, you know how it ends. The Romanov's were all killed. And the way it all plays out, it seems almost cowardly. It's horrific. So, it's really hard to read a novel that you know there is no happy every after.
I was pleased that the actual details on the deaths are in an author's note. The actual ending is more of a fade to black. Miller has done her research and it shows. There's lots of details at the end, including some on the theory of Anastasia getting away. There's also information on the 2 graves that have been found which put a rest to the theory. I also loved the included pictures and would love to see a finished copy of this book. An ARC ebook I'm sure does not give this justice!