Alexander Palace Forum

Books and Films about the Romanovs and Imperial Russia => Books about the Romanovs and Imperial Russia => Topic started by: KarinK on November 10, 2013, 12:53:09 PM

Title: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: KarinK on November 10, 2013, 12:53:09 PM
From the author's website (http://www.helenrappaport.com/page29.html):

Quote
Four Sisters
THE LOST LIVES OF THE ROMANOV GRAND DUCHESSES
PUBLICATION:  UK: Pan Macmillan, 27 March 2014  USA: St Martin's Press, 3 June 2014

(http://i.imgur.com/ohEYaTb.jpg) (http://imgur.com/ohEYaTb) (http://i.imgur.com/cXDJNOe.jpg) (http://imgur.com/cXDJNOe)

Quote
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. They are too often seen merely as set dressing, the beautiful but innocuous background to the bigger, more dramatic story of their parents – Russia’s last Tsar and Tsarina, Nicholas and Alexandra. They are perceived as lovely, desirable and living charmed lives. But the truth is somewhat different.

For most of their short lives the four Romanov sisters were beautiful birds in a gilded cage, shut away at their palaces at Tsarskoe Selo or Livadia as a reaction to the fear of terrorist attacks on the Imperial Family. In reality the girls had few friends and ever fewer playmates and were largely cut off from the real world outside and the normal life experiences of other girls – that is, until everything changed in 1914. Suddenly, with Russia’s entry into the war, the girls had to grow up fast.

In a deliberate echo of the title of Chekhov’s play, Four 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. It will aim to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing on previously unseen archival sources, as well as photographic and other material in private collections and opinion drawn from the author’s considerable personal network of royalty experts.

This is my most anticipated book of 2014. Seeing the cover on Amazon made the book feel so close, yet still so far away! I prefer the US cover because it shows the sisters as young women but I'll probably end up ordering the UK edition since I doubt I'll be able to wait. "Previously unseen archival sources" sounds promising.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: wakas on November 10, 2013, 02:42:25 PM
I really want to have this one too. But March 2014 seems so far ( in 5 months !). Hopefully, there is Olga's diary at the end of November. It's  the two books I'm looking forward to read !
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: edubs31 on November 10, 2013, 05:44:15 PM
Both are just fantastic covers. Two of the all-time greatest OTMA photos in my opinion.

I'm always curious as to how and why the photos and titles are different from one country to the next. And in this instance two English speaking countries. Do the publishers really believe UK audiences will be more receptive to the more ambiguously titled "Four Sister" and young girls on the cover, and US audiences take kinder to the young ladies gracing the more specifically titled "Romanov Sisters"? And if so, why?

Whichever cover I wind up with I'm certain the content will be excellent however. Looking forward to this!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Olga Maria on November 10, 2013, 11:13:44 PM
Thanks for sharing that very precious info, KarinK!
Add me to the list of well-wishers and most excited to get this book!
Like KarinK, the US version appeals to me more (love a photo of them in full, and the grey color is utterly my preference ; )

"It will aim to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing on previously unseen archival sources, as well as photographic and other material in private collections and opinion drawn from the author’s considerable personal network of royalty experts.."

(...cries...mixed emotions...)

Wahh, THIS BOOK!!!

Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: KarinK on November 11, 2013, 08:28:43 AM
I'm always curious as to how and why the photos and titles are different from one country to the next. And in this instance two English speaking countries. Do the publishers really believe UK audiences will be more receptive to the more ambiguously titled "Four Sister" and young girls on the cover, and US audiences take kinder to the young ladies gracing the more specifically titled "Romanov Sisters"? And if so, why?

I think that would be an interesting copic. Rappaport's previous Romanov book is called Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs but I've also seen an edition for sale in a UK shop that had a cover saying The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg. The US edition of the new book probably mentions the Romanovs because the casual reader is more familiar with them than with the title of grand duchess, but the same casual reader would also be more familiar with the last tsar in general than Nicholas and Alexandra in particular. How do publishers make decisions about how to sell a book and help it reach a suitable audience? It's fascinating.

I'm also looking forward to seeing the photos. If some of them are new it'll be wonderful, but even if they're all familiar it will still be nice to see which ones were chosen.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Helen_Azar on November 19, 2013, 04:57:35 PM
Rappaport's previous Romanov book is called Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs but I've also seen an edition for sale in a UK shop that had a cover saying The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg. The US edition of the new book probably mentions the Romanovs because the casual reader is more familiar with them than with the title of grand duchess, but the same casual reader would also be more familiar with the last tsar in general than Nicholas and Alexandra in particular. How do publishers make decisions about how to sell a book and help it reach a suitable audience?

That's exactly it, the publishers feel that in order to appeal to the "mainstream" American audience and sell as many books as possible, the title has to really spell it all out and leave no room for questions.. In a way they are right. Not among this gang here, but your regular run-of-the-mill American does not know nearly as much about European history (including Russian) as say, a Brit or a European does... Americans know a lot more about American history (with exceptions of course) than European history. So what may be a mainstream topic across the pond, would be something more specialized here, unless the title and/or the cover is made to look a bit more "mainstream". Not sure if this makes sense...
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: koloagirl on November 21, 2013, 01:25:02 AM

Aloha all!

I agree Helen....I definitely think that the "average" American browsing books would need to have it spelled out a bit more than our European counterparts...JMO.

I have ordered the U.K. version thru the Amazon U.K. site because that is my favorite cover, but I will ultimately end up ordering the American one as well I feel sure.  I'm just that nerdy! 

Janet R.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: KarinK on December 17, 2013, 04:13:30 AM
I noticed that Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Four-Sisters-Lives-Romanov-Duchesses/dp/0230768172/ref=pd_sim_b_1) has an updated book description:

Quote
On 17 July 1918, four young women walked down twenty-three steps into the cellar of a house in Ekaterinburg. The eldest was twenty-two, the youngest only seventeen. Together with their parents and their thirteen-year-old brother, they were all brutally murdered. Their crime: to be the daughters of the last Tsar and Tsaritsa of All the Russias. Much has been written about Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and their tragic fate, as it has about the Russian Revolutions of 1917, but little attention has been paid to the Romanov princesses, who – perhaps inevitably – have been seen as minor players in the drama. In Four Sisters, however, acclaimed biographer Helen Rappaport puts them centre stage and offers readers the most authoritative account yet of the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. Drawing on their own letters and diaries and other hitherto unexamined primary sources, she paints a vivid picture of their lives in the dying days of the Romanov dynasty. We see, almost for the first time, their journey from a childhood of enormous privilege, throughout which they led a very sheltered and largely simple life, to young womanhood – their first romantic crushes, their hopes and dreams, the difficulty of coping with a mother who was a chronic invalid and a haeomophiliac brother, and, latterly, the trauma of the revolution and its terrible consequences. Compellingly readable, meticulously researched and deeply moving, Four Sisters gives these young women a voice, and allows their story to resonate for readers almost a century after their death.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: missb on March 21, 2014, 03:50:26 PM
Bought this book yesterday and as I was off work today read it all in one sitting. It's great, loads of new little insights and anecdotes plus I felt it was a great way of summarising all of the more recently discovered sources on the Grand Duchesses e.g. the notes from their fellow nurses. Initially when I saw this book was going to be published I wondered what else could be said on OTMA but that was definitely the wrong impression . Photos are different from the usual often seen ones too .
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Ally Kumari on March 21, 2014, 04:16:36 PM
This book sounds like heaven to a person like me, whose primary interest in the Romanovs and their era was triggered by a photo of them in court dresses. Thank you missb for the appraisal, you made me even more curious!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: KarinK on March 21, 2014, 04:30:43 PM
The book is already available in the UK? It's great to hear that about insights and anecdotes, missb, I can't wait to read new Romanov information!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Kimberly on March 23, 2014, 02:23:17 AM
A nice article in the Mail on Sunday.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2584495/Privilege-passion-Russian-princesses.html (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2584495/Privilege-passion-Russian-princesses.html)
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: missb on March 23, 2014, 04:02:01 PM
I bought it in my local Waterstones ,  I wasn't expecting to see it on the shelves this early as I knew the ebook wasn't available until the end of the month. Actually re-reading today I enjoyed it so much along with a nice 2005 catalogue I bought second hand, which is about an exhibition in Scotland of Nicholas and Alexandra items :) :D
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Mandie, the Gothic Empress on April 02, 2014, 12:49:21 PM
I'm a little confused so "four sisters" and "romanov sisters " are the same book?
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: KarinK on April 03, 2014, 08:32:29 AM
I'm a little confused so "four sisters" and "romanov sisters " are the same book?

Yes, just with different titles for UK and US editions, presumably for marketing reasons.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Mandie, the Gothic Empress on April 03, 2014, 12:09:40 PM
Thank you :)
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Превед on April 03, 2014, 12:34:19 PM
Четыре сестры Романовы / Романовские?
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Mandie, the Gothic Empress on April 04, 2014, 05:00:09 PM
Also another question will the two books have the same pictures?
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: KarinK on April 05, 2014, 03:22:30 PM
I don't think that will be known before both editions have been released, but since there is such a short time between UK and US releases I would guess that the content is the same and only the cover/title is different.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: KarinK on April 08, 2014, 06:39:29 AM
I've received my copy now. Any new Romanov book is good news and I was especially happy to find out that there would be one focusing on the grand duchesses, but Four Sisters has been even better than I expected. It makes me think that it's still possible to write about the Romanovs in a fresh way and using sources that haven't been completely explored because in addition to covering familiar ground, it is full of new references and quotes that I haven't seen before in Romanov-themed books of popular history or online on royalty forums like this. I don't know if there are rules about whether we are allowed to post specific quotes from a new book, but there were plenty of little details that amused me or even made me stop and reconsider what I knew about someone. The photo section is excellent, with a large number of rare photos that were shared online for the first time only last year, so this must be the first time they appear in an English book.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Georgiy on April 11, 2014, 02:56:51 PM
Amazon.uk is telling me it is having trouble with this book, which I pre-ordered months ago. Anywhere else I can get it?
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Ortino on April 11, 2014, 06:51:08 PM
Georgiy, I received my copy from them last week. Perhaps it depends on where you're shipping it to? (I'm in the US).
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: KarinK on April 12, 2014, 04:03:47 AM
Amazon.uk is telling me it is having trouble with this book, which I pre-ordered months ago. Anywhere else I can get it?

Maybe Waterstones or The Book Depository?
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: amelia on April 12, 2014, 06:35:46 AM
Paul Gilbert is also selling it... I just received my copy from him.

Amelia
(Eva McDonald)
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Georgiy on April 13, 2014, 06:27:06 AM
Thanks, I will give those a try.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Sanochka on May 06, 2014, 05:55:07 PM
I just pre-ordered a copy on Amazon.  According to them, the book is due to be released on June 3.  I'm looking forward to receiving and reading it.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: edubs31 on May 07, 2014, 08:50:12 AM
I just pre-ordered a copy on Amazon.  According to them, the book is due to be released on June 3.  I'm looking forward to receiving and reading it.

Same here. I go away for two weeks for my job (leaving June 1st) and will have plenty of time in the evening to simply unwind and read. Very much looking forward to it!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on June 05, 2014, 05:10:08 PM
Good News Helen. This book is mentioned in the 9 june 2014 People magazine as a great summer read.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Suzanne on June 05, 2014, 09:12:29 PM
Here's my review - I really enjoyed the book, especially the WWI sections

http://www.royalhistorian.com/friday-royal-read-the-romanov-sisters-by-helen-rappaport/
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Kassafrass on June 06, 2014, 12:47:17 AM
Good News Helen. This book is mentioned in the 9 june 2014 People magazine as a great summer read.
Looks like I'm going to have to pick up that copy of People! Always makes me happy to see non-fictional Romanov pieces getting more attention.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: katherine2001 on June 07, 2014, 03:49:54 PM
I just got my copy from Amazon today, so I am really looking forward to reading it!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Kassafrass on June 07, 2014, 10:35:41 PM
Ready very slowly but surely and enjoying every minute of it. Reading about Alix's trouble with nursing Olga and finding it so easy to nurse the wet nurse's son puts a smile on my face. I love the way Helen R writes. Makes me want to get her previous book even more.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Dev on June 08, 2014, 12:05:48 PM
My review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/938879095 (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/938879095)
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Kassafrass on June 08, 2014, 11:51:09 PM
Dev

You are, unfortunately, not the only person to have those feelings about the biography. Naturally in any sort of book such as this it is important to set up a foundation for your story (making the life of Alexandra important). My only suspect as to why Nicholas' younger life isn't given as much time in the spotlight is because the author seems to view Alexandra's "mother love" as being a large part of the downfall of the family and it certainly had a large impact on OTMA. I am only so far into it at this point, but I've enjoyed what I've read so far. I am, however, afraid that Alexei will take over the book. Of course he was important to the story - but his is one that has (to an extent) been told over and over. I loved your review but I am desperately hoping that my experience is much better!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Georgiy on June 09, 2014, 04:11:39 AM
I quite liked the book, would have liked more, but guess there is a limit as to how long such a book would be. While I can read August Sisters of Mercy, would love a proper English translation, and think maybe more could have been drawn from that. Letters of Anastasia to her friend Katya were a wonderful addition to Four Sisters.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: edubs31 on June 09, 2014, 11:49:51 AM
It's also important to consider the possibility that there is simply a limit to the amount of information we have on these young women. Just because we'd all like to know more about them doesn't mean more (of consequence at least) is actually available. It's hard to come up with a new slant on things when so much is already know, and in this regard I admire Helen's writing and the difficulty it was to create such a book. The criticism seems to deal with a bit of mislabeling. "Four Sisters" would suggest a book largely about OTMA when in reality it's about the IF in general with a greater amount of emphasis placed on the lives and role of the Grand Duchess's.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Dru on June 09, 2014, 04:29:56 PM
Dev

You are, unfortunately, not the only person to have those feelings about the biography. Naturally in any sort of book such as this it is important to set up a foundation for your story (making the life of Alexandra important). My only suspect as to why Nicholas' younger life isn't given as much time in the spotlight is because the author seems to view Alexandra's "mother love" as being a large part of the downfall of the family and it certainly had a large impact on OTMA. I am only so far into it at this point, but I've enjoyed what I've read so far. I am, however, afraid that Alexei will take over the book. Of course he was important to the story - but his is one that has (to an extent) been told over and over. I loved your review but I am desperately hoping that my experience is much better!

I agree with you, Kassafrass--I loved the book.  I could be way off base, but I think there was so much emphasis on Alix's early years because it was her pathology/neuroses that most dramatically influenced the upbringing of OTMA and moulded who they would become, and understanding Alix is crucial to understanding her daughters.  It's safe to say that Nicholas was the more stable parent, so perhaps Ms. Rappaport felt that there was less need to dissect his childhood and early adulthood. 
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Mandie, the Gothic Empress on June 09, 2014, 04:42:42 PM
I very much liked the book and as some people say it has a lot of the Tsarina and the Tsarevich, yes that's true but if you think about it the girls lives revolved around their mother´s and brother´s lives.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Dev on June 09, 2014, 07:07:55 PM
"It's also important to consider the possibility that there is simply a limit to the amount of information we have on these young women. "

True, but an abundance of anecdotes on the girls I have read were axed. Alix and Alexei take up places where OTMA should have been. 126 pages of Alix was too much, and Alexei overshadows his sisters abundantly.

"I could be way off base, but I think there was so much emphasis on Alix's early years because it was her pathology/neuroses that most dramatically influenced the upbringing of OTMA and moulded who they would become, and understanding Alix is crucial to understanding her daughters."

The book, I wrote, does focus way too much on her and Alexei. It is not the book labeled or described. I did like it, but I was disappointed.  It should have been titled "The Last Romanovs", or something of similar vein.

"The criticism seems to deal with a bit of mislabeling."

definitely, but even more than that, it is not the book described. It is indeed a general biography with more OTMA.

Remember people, this is just my *experience*. It is, as I wrote, well-written, and in terms of a general bio, 4/5 stars of goodness; however, 2/5 stars of a complete "as-described /as-hoped" disappointment!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Sanochka on June 09, 2014, 07:41:44 PM
I found my copy of "The Romanov Sisters" in the mailbox a few days ago.  I receive books almost every day, but this was one of those rare occasions where I unwrap it, flip through it, begin to read it, and am unable to put it down.  I've read through Chapter 11, and cannot say how much I'm enjoying this book.  The writing is great, and it's a rare page where I don't come across an intriguing new detail about the four sisters that I have not read in 40 years of reading about this family.  The book offers a wonderful new perspective on the day to day lives of the sisters, their relationships with one another and with their mother, and their views of the outside world.  The author cuts through the idealism and romanticism generally surrounding these four young women and presents them as very human, oftentimes even coarsely so.  

The book also clarifies a hodgepodge of well-known but seemingly unrelated details, and ties many of them together in ways that offer continuity and help bring the family eerily to life.  For example, I've watched the b&w footage of the girls helping their mother distribute Easter eggs at Livadia in 1912, and have read about the 1912 Tsarevich egg, but have never thought of the two together.  How interesting it is to think of the moving footage, and know at the same time that Alexandra had opened the egg the night before.  All must have marveled at it, and perhaps one or more of the girls were even thinking about it while they were being filmed distributing eggs that morning.

I do have one question.  On page 130 the author describes "the old summer palace of Livadia, 53 miles south" of Yalta.  Then, on page 153, she describes Yalta as being 2 miles from Livadia Palace.  Am I missing something?
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Kassafrass on June 09, 2014, 10:24:44 PM
It's also important to consider the possibility that there is simply a limit to the amount of information we have on these young women. Just because we'd all like to know more about them doesn't mean more (of consequence at least) is actually available. It's hard to come up with a new slant on things when so much is already know, and in this regard I admire Helen's writing and the difficulty it was to create such a book. The criticism seems to deal with a bit of mislabeling. "Four Sisters" would suggest a book largely about OTMA when in reality it's about the IF in general with a greater amount of emphasis placed on the lives and role of the Grand Duchess's.

And therein your words lies the most likely reasons for my love for this book so far. This is the first non-fictional book I have actually been able to sit down and read about the family and many of the anecdotes inside are largely unknown to me. And yes, Helen writes wonderfully and I rather enjoy the way she is able to convey the events. It flows nicely and doesn't seem to be a large step-by-step list of events as some biographers tend to do with their subject.

A plus side to rereading all of these familiar anecdotes is that they are in one place, making it easier to go there to refer to something you might be looking up... but of course that won't stop me from wanting to get the books that these accounts come from... ;-)

Remember people, this is just my *experience*. It is, as I wrote, well-written, and in terms of a general bio, 4/5 stars of goodness; however, 2/5 stars of a complete "as-described /as-hoped" disappointment!

Of course! You're entitled to your own opinion. I hope we didn't make you feel as if you weren't.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Dru on June 10, 2014, 02:49:40 PM

Remember people, this is just my *experience*. It is, as I wrote, well-written, and in terms of a general bio, 4/5 stars of goodness; however, 2/5 stars of a complete "as-described /as-hoped" disappointment!

I hope I didn't offend you, Dev--that was certainly not my intent--but if I did, I sincerely apologize.  I do think your criticisms are valid, and as Kassafrass said, you are entitled to your opinion.  I was only giving mine and kind of thinking "aloud."  Sorry for any confusion there... 
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: TimM on June 10, 2014, 05:36:58 PM
This book interests me more and more...
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Dev on June 10, 2014, 09:28:39 PM

Remember people, this is just my *experience*. It is, as I wrote, well-written, and in terms of a general bio, 4/5 stars of goodness; however, 2/5 stars of a complete "as-described /as-hoped" disappointment!

I hope I didn't offend you, Dev--that was certainly not my intent--but if I did, I sincerely apologize.  I do think your criticisms are valid, and as Kassafrass said, you are entitled to your opinion.  I was only giving mine and kind of thinking "aloud."  Sorry for any confusion there... 

Oh no you guys did not! I'm used to goodreads people getting mad at my reviews :3 I forget how nice people here are compared!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Clovely on June 11, 2014, 12:45:59 PM
I have to agree, I definitely wasn't expecting to read about Alix and Alexei as much as I did. However, I've never really gotten the chance to read much information on Alix since I tend to read more about OTMAA, but what I did read was very interesting. In fact, reading about Alix's upbringing really made me view her in a new way. So I guess there's that.

I'm only on chapter 9 right now, but I was hoping for the narrative to eventually follow more closely on the girls. I'm guessing this isn't going to happen?
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Padawan Ryan on June 12, 2014, 07:39:41 PM
I just finished reading this book - having pre-ordered it and received it the day it was released - and I was very happy with it. It was a very informative book, and I like that it focused more on OTMA considering there hasn't really been a biography just on the daughters before, and while they are mentioned in biographies about their parents or the revolution, it's never in such great detail. However, I found the end came a lot quicker than it could have - their captivity in Tobolsk and Ekaterinberg were condensed into about fifty to sixty pages or so, and I understand that there's a lot less information about that time of their lives since the diaries and such of the time were burned, but I felt like suddenly I was reading about their lives at Tsarskoe Selo and suddenly they were dead. I know their captivity only lasted about a year, but I personally didn't feel like enough detail was allotted to their lives in captivity, and that it seemed the author was speeding through it.

Regardless, though, I did find it a wonderful book and there were many little things in there that I didn't previously know (and having spent the past eleven years studying the Romanovs, and mostly focused on OTMA, it's always nice to learn new things). I also did find that they focused a lot more on other people when more information about the girls could've been noted - I don't recall reading about the incident in which Maria's tonsils were removed, and while it's only something that happened once, I did find that it would've been something worth going into a little detail about. Unfortunately, for a book about the girls, it felt like it was focused on the entire family with maybe one or two extra things about the girls. I've started reading The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution and in the beginning of the book, I've already learned a little more about how Olga's mind worked as a child, before they even got into the diary portion.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Duchess Hydrangea on June 12, 2014, 08:10:40 PM
I'm thinking about ordering this book but does it have a graphic description of the murder scene in it?
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Padawan Ryan on June 12, 2014, 08:22:46 PM
I'm thinking about ordering this book but does it have a graphic description of the murder scene in it?

Not at all. Actually, it almost completely skips the murder entirely - it goes from what happened in the days before the murder to suddenly all their imprisoned friends either being released or murdered months later. Maybe it's because the author already released a book based on their last days, but she completely skipped past the murder in this one. No graphic scene, not even a mention of them being awakened and brought downstairs.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Duchess Hydrangea on June 13, 2014, 07:37:48 AM
Ah okay, thanks for the information.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Sanochka on June 14, 2014, 12:35:48 AM
Actually, mention is made - briefly - of everybody being awakened and led downstairs, and nothing beyond that.

I finished the book yesterday.  Overall, it was an engrossing read - I read it in three nights - and I learned much that I didn't know before.  Having read Rappaport's in-depth book about the final days, I wasn't expecting to read much about their lives in captivity this time around, but I do wish that had been more focus on the Grand Duchesses before their departure for Tobolsk.  For a book about the Romanov sisters, I feel there was an over-emphasis on Alexandra and Alexei, and too much focus on Russian history that is already well-known - during which the girls either disappear entirely, or are clumsily trotted out as plot points.

Still, my hat is off to Rapport for producing a book about four young women around whom fascination bordering on feverish still swirls nearly a century after their murders.  Given the guarded seclusion in which they spent virtually their entire lives, the destruction of important records documenting their private thoughts and feelings about events and personages around them, and those who knew them personally now long dead, the task of researching and organizing what is known about the four Grand Duchesses into "The Romanov Sisters" could not have been an easy one.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Duchess Hydrangea on June 14, 2014, 09:14:43 AM
So is there much new information about the four sisters or is it only a little more compared to what can already be found on this site?
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: wakas on June 14, 2014, 09:28:13 AM
There are in this book anecdotes and letters that I had never read before. However, it's true that on the whole, it's more a general biography of OTMA than a in-depth one. But IMHO it's definitely worth buying.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Duchess Hydrangea on June 14, 2014, 09:36:18 AM
okay, thank you.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Kimberly on June 15, 2014, 02:08:14 AM
All Ms. Rappaport's books are extremely readable and this book should grace the shelves of all who are interested in the Romanovs. I found it delightful.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on November 25, 2014, 09:09:22 PM
I *finally* got ahold of this book! I'm not even halfway through but I am loving it so far. It's very popular at my local library. It's been out all these months but I still had to reserve a copy, and people are in line behind me! Because of this I can't renew and it and will likely have to return it before I finish, but I will certainly put it on my Christmas list.

I am loving all the anecdotes and bits of info I didn't know. Sad to hear many of the anecdotes weren't included, hopefully those will be released too someday. Are we sure all the sources are reliable? I think so, but I know we've had that problem with Romanov books in the past, so I want to be sure they're true before I take them to heart.

However, I do agree with Dev's review. Far too much of the book is spent on Alexandra and Aleksey. Both are important, but we have so many books on them already.

It was refreshing to read a Romanov book without having to go through all the same descriptions and quotes yet again. It seems the same quotations make it into every book on the subject. Helen Rappaport is becoming one of my favorite authors for this topic.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: TimM on November 26, 2014, 11:11:29 AM
Quote
It's very popular at my local library. It's been out all these months but I still had to reserve a copy, and people are in line behind me!

Sounds like you've got a lot of Romanov fans in your area, Lisa.  You should invite them here.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Maria Sisi on November 26, 2014, 12:57:50 PM
However, I do agree with Dev's review. Far too much of the book is spent on Alexandra and Aleksey. Both are important, but we have so many books on them already.

I understand this criticism but at the same time I fully understand why it was done.

Everything about the family was based on Alexandra and Alexei. For a huge majority of their lives everything they did revolved around those two. They weren't as important as Alexei or in control of anything like Alexandra was with the family. I mean even Nicholas, the Tsar, gets overshadowed by his ill son and wife most of the time.

They really didn't do much in their short lives and frankly besides talking about their personalities, flirtations and isolation (which the book was very good at!) there isn't much to say about them. They submitted to the will of their parents, looked after their brother, had puppy love romances and didn't do much of anything else.

Your probably not up to this point yet but the book does concentrate heavily on Olga and Tatiana once it gets to the war and Anastasia is mentioned a lot post abdication. The only sister that wasn't covered much is Maria.  I guess a bigger version of Helen Azar's book on Olga that included all sisters would have been more satisfying for some but that book was doing something different then this one.

Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on December 16, 2014, 05:32:01 PM
I read the book and have some errata and comments:
The regiment Maria N was honorary Colonel of was the 9th Kazan Dragoons not the 5th. Based on the OOB (order of battle information) I have see:
marksrussian militaryhistory.info
Austria-Hungary's last War 1914-1918 8 Volumes www.comrostudio.com StanHanna
George nafziegler OOB information for 1877 and 1914

Note the Russian imperial army underwent a major reorganization in 1881 when Tsar Alexander III converted all cavalry except Guards and Cossacks into dragoons. In the post Russo_Japanese war pre WW I period they were converted back to Dragoons, Hussars and Lancers.

It looks like in 2 cases you may have fallen victim to memoirs problems:
One the Sandro-Alexandra argument which based on the letter he wrote write afterwards posted on the APTM Nicholas study may not have happened.

The second is Sailor Derevenko being mean to Alexei the only source we have on this is Anna Vyrubova and Charlotte Zeepat in Romanov Autumn has doubts the incident happened. Note the incident is discussed on this site. In away it doesn't quite make sense for him to have done this at this time march 1917. No one in their worst nightmare would have predicted what was going to happen to the IF and Russia at this time.

You mention German prisoners of war fixing up the Govenor's mansion in Tobolsk. The book "Prisoner's of War and the Great war captivity on the Eastern Front" Alan Rachamimov mentions that at the Tobolsk POW camp Austro-Hungarian officers were given weapons by their guards to fight duels.

I hope this of some use.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Kassafrass on December 19, 2014, 01:15:55 AM
"Four Sisters" was voted the best history/biography book of 2014 on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: edubs31 on December 19, 2014, 08:24:32 AM
Great to hear! Certainly it sounds worthy of the praise it has received...though I must admit not having had the chance to read my copy of it yet.

Beating out Bill O'Reilly's "Killing Patton" as well as books on Sally Ride and Michael Jordan, among others. Nice going!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Rodney_G. on December 20, 2014, 04:09:03 PM
"Four Sisters" was voted the best history/biography book of 2014 on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014

That honor is so well deserved. And that's a pretty broad category. Two thumbs up!

Great to hear! Certainly it sounds worthy of the praise it has received...though I must admit not having had the chance to read my copy of it yet.



Hey, get on the stick, edubs! Only kidding, of course, but you will enjoy it.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on January 07, 2015, 03:50:48 PM
In this book one of the sources in a British Naval Officer Harold Tennyson who is mentioned being killed on the destroyer HMS Viking. On archive.org there is a book "The Dover Patrol" by Reginal Bacon in Volume 2 Page 360 there is an account of the incident where he was killed when his ship hit a mine laid by a unidentified U-boat. There is also a picture of this ship in drydock showing the damage.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Inok Nikolai on October 06, 2015, 04:13:54 PM
From Paul Kulikovsky’s “Romanov News”, No. 90, September 2015

"Diaries of Princesses Romanov" will be published in Russia
The publishing house "Eksmo" plans to release on October 9 for sale the book by Helen Rappaport called "Four Sisters" in UK and "The Romanov Sisters" in US - and now in Russian it is called "Diaries of Princesses Romanov."
As the Publishing house says - "This unique biographical work returns to the modern reader, the image of the real Romanov sisters, daughters of Nicholas II and Alexandra.
The book is based on records from the personal diaries of Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov. On the pages there are portraits of smart, sensitive and responsive to the reality young women, who perceived and experienced the fate of Russia at the turn of the eras.
Extensive materials from the archives were previously inaccessible to the wider Russian public - the official (including the archives of the various Royal houses of Europe ) and private (including of special value are the memories of those who knew the sisters of the Romanovs) - and pictures, that let you recreate the circumstances of their life and occupations, their hobbies and passions.
The masterfully told story perfectly captures the spirit of the time, allowing the reader feel the living breath of history. This book is able to surprise even those who consider themselves an expert on the issue. New York Times bestseller for 12 weeks. The book received the most favorable reviews of the largest British and American editions.

Kudos to Helen!
Quite the feather in her cap -- to have her book go full circle and "return" to Russia, in Russian!
Congratulations!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Ortino on December 28, 2015, 09:11:25 AM
I started rereading Four Sisters and stumbled upon two small errors in succession in the text:

pg. 5: "a stencilled frieze of pink roses and bronze butterflies above pink coloured wallpaper had been chosen by the younger sisters Maria and Anastasia."

Maria and Anastasia's bedroom walls were grey and from what I understand, the girls' rooms were painted, not wallpapered. I'm not trying to be nitpick, but I find it a tad surprising that the author would include such elementary mistakes in her book....
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Ortino on December 30, 2015, 09:55:31 AM
Another small error:

Pg. 68: "Alexandra looked magnificent, if rather uncomfortable, ornately dressed as the Tsaritsa Maria Miloslavskaya in a heavy gold brocade costume and unwieldy crown."

Alexandra dressed as Maria Ilyinichna for the 1903 ball.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Kalafrana on December 30, 2015, 11:41:43 AM
Not a mistake.

Maria Ilynichina Miloslavskaya
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: Ortino on December 30, 2015, 01:03:50 PM
Not a mistake.

Maria Ilynichina Miloslavskaya

Ack! You are right. I stand corrected!
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: nena on November 21, 2016, 05:18:41 PM
Let's revive this thread.

Four days ago, I accidentally ran across one book-store in the city where I studied, and noticed this magnificent book in my native language's edition! I bought it immediately. I have already read more than a half of the book up to now. [The WW1 has just begun in the book.]

Being someone who is more interested in Tsarevich's life, I decided to explore more on OTMA. The book is great, I am amazed by amount of details [given chronologically] such as:

- OTMA was given physics classes!
- I learned the names of OT's horses they rode during 1913 regiment ceremonies.
- There is complete list of OTMA's clothes, its designers and its costs.
- During 1914 to Romania, OTMA allegedly got their faces sunburned intentionally so they 'didn't impress' the Romanian Royal Family.
- I saw list of OTMA's tutors for all the subjects - including geography, for example.
- I finally learned who was OTMA's favorite officers on the Standart -A.K.Shvedov, Rodionov, Voronov,....
- I am surprised how Tsarina was ill for a long time every year so she didn't attend several ceremonies. Or even if she did, she stayed briefly. [Understandably]. She also gave the degrees to her heartache, 1-3. '1' is considered to be less pain and '3' the hardest pain.
- I noticed that the author tells Olga's story for most. [I would like to know more about Tatiana and Maria as well]. 
- I am amazed by depictions of the events that occurred, so I can now say more about NAOTMAA's photos - their dates, especially during official visits in 1908, 1909 and 1910.
- I also noticed that ST. Petersburg is referred as 'Petrograd' in the events before 1914, [when the name of the capital actually changed], but it is not an error. 
- I learned many interesting facts and anecdotes [about OTMA] and learned about many people who were the IF's friends and acquaintances whom I have never heard before - such as different diplomats, noblemen....
- I finally got more info. on Alexandra's 1902 'miscarriage', even learned the names of the complete doctors that served the IF. Impressive.
- Generally, I learned more about 1895 - 1914 years of NII-reign, especially from the 1906-1911 period which events I barely know.
 
Also, I am more keen on NAOTMAA lives from 1914 to 1918, so I can't wait what is to come. I think that the post will be continued. Impressive work, Helen, I appreciate your work and efforts and I highly recommend this book for OTMA[A]'s fans.
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on February 10, 2019, 06:25:30 PM
on youtube I found: "Helen Rappenport The Romanov Sisters Part 1 Audio Book" by Okun Samapann
Title: Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Post by: edubs31 on March 03, 2019, 06:38:22 AM
Good find James, thank you for sharing! I’m listening to it now. Bought the book 2+ years ago but only ever got through a few chapters.