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Messages - Elizabeth

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The Alexander Palace / Trip to Alexander Palace? [2005]
« on: December 30, 2004, 10:44:51 AM »
Might be "jumping the gun" here, but does anyone know of any trips (that is, within the next year) to the AP?  Bob -- is there any possibility those of us on the boards can get something organized?   :D

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna / Re: Books on Grand Duchess Elizabeth
« on: December 30, 2004, 10:42:11 AM »
I didn't know if any of you had seen this book out there -- Ella's Story: The Duchess Who Became a Saint, by Maria Tobias -- but it's available via Conciliar Press (, a publishing house that's part of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (so it respects her life as a saint of the church).

It's written for children (my Mom got it for me for X-mas even though I've passed that stage by about 30 years!), and I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it looks interesting.  

Since this is what started my, um, obsession, I would urge everyone to read this book (I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here).  But for first-time posters, this is THE book!  Actually, Barnes & Noble ( ALWAYS has at least one or two recent editions on their shelves.

Question:  When I started my university studies (and the professor would ask why we were interested in Russian history),  I was always met with a frown or a curt reply from professors when I said I loved Massie's "N&A."  I finally cornered one of them (after I got my grade, of course!), and was told that Massie wasn't "considered" a scholarly writer and that the professor dismissed "N&A" as a piece of "fluff" (HIS term, not mine!).   He went on to state, "I hope by taking my class (on the Revolution) you've realized that Rasputin wasn't the one who caused the fall of Russia!"   >:(

What a jerk.  Anyone else experienced this?

I would stay away from this book like the plague (saw it at a used bookstore the other day and almost bought it -- even though I already have it -- so someone else wouldn't have to suffer through it).

Despised the ending and had nightmares about it.   :-/  The whole thing was awful.  

I enjoyed this book as well -- from a scholarly perspective, but thought Crankshaw was a little TOO negative when it came to Alexandra (did he call her "unbalanced" at one point? -- I'll have to dig it out and see the exact quote).   ???

At the time it first came out (it was in the 1970's, wasn't it?, I had read only Massie's N&A and books that had been kind to the IF, so it sort of came as a shock.  

Oh, and thanks Janet W., for bringing up about Salisbury's book.  I LOVE his writing style -- "900 Days: the Siege of Leningrad" is also wonderful.  I met Harrison Salisbury shortly before he died at a book signing -- very nice and appreciative when I said how much I enjoyed his books.  I think he was THE scholarly writer of Russian/Soviet history of his time.

The Imperial Family / Re: What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« on: December 30, 2004, 10:15:02 AM »
I've officially "de-lurked" now and am enjoying posting messages to the boards.  I've been in love with this site for some time, but have never had the "gumption" (as we say in Kentucky) to post.   ;D

Anyway, my story begins in 1972, shortly after my parents went to see Nicholas & Alexandra at the local movie theater (I was out of town on a school field trip -- I was 11 at the time!).  My mom loved it and said, "I've GOT to take you to see this wonderful movie about the last King & Queen (!) of Russia."  It sounded positively BORING (although I was a big fan of history --  just not Russia!).  

Well, time got away from us and the movie left the theaters.  A few years (?) later, "Nicholas & Alexandra" showed up on the "Movie of the Week" (on ABC/CBS?) -- in two parts -- and mom says, again, to me, "Oh, here is that wonderful movie.  You're going to HAVE to watch it, BUT I won't tell you the ending!"  

So we sat down on two consecutive evenings and watched it and I was HOOKED.  Had my Mom take me out the next day and buy me Massie's "N & A" and read it cover to cover in a few sittings (and then read it again and again).  (My mom continues to tell friends to this day that I'm probably the only one with EVERY edition since I've worn the covers off of all of them -- that is, except the first edition hardback!).

So, that's my intro.  After reading N&A, I started in on other Russian books about the family ("The File on the Tsar" came out around that time, plus "Shadow of the Winter Palace" which I didn't care for - very derogatory toward N&A I thought), plus a lot of picture books (Lyons' "Nicholas II: The Last Tsar").

Not thinking there was much use (or $$) out there for a Russian history professor, I eventually got my legal assistant degree to make a living.  BUT, after a few years, I wanted to go back and get a degree in SOMETHING, so I went to the local University (of Louisville) and got my degree (in "Soviet Area Studies" -- now it's Russian studies).  Took some FABULOUS classes -- Russian lit, Russian Revolutions, Early Russian History, etc.  

Oh, and I got to hear Massie speak when he was in Louisville for some event and finally figured out that I had been mispronouncing Rasputin's name for the last 20+ years (it's like Vladimir Putin, but with the Rass in front of it -- hence, Ras -- poo -- tin).  Small piece of trivia -- RKM was born and raised in Lexington, KY, which is "down the street" (well, an hour's drive) from where I live!  

Also, I met Suzanne Massie a few years after that -- she was at a book signing at a local bookstore and we spoke for TOO long (her daughter and son-in-law lived nearby and I got to meet them too!).  What a classy lady -- she signed all of my books (her's and N&A).  A bit of trivia -- she said that when she and her (now) ex, RM, wrote N&A -- they were going to have BOTH of their names on it, but thought it looked better with just his (she said, laughingly, "We didn't want to have TOO many couples' names on the cover - Nicholas & Alexandra and Robert & Suzanne.  People might have gotten mixed up!).  

She's just a GREAT lady (and my two cents worth here, but I thought that RKM's other books after N&A weren't NEARLY as good as his work with Suzanne.  Compare the writing style in N&A with RKM's and SM's other books and you can see that Suzanne has the stronger "voice" of the two in N&A.  

Okay, I'll stop babbling.   :D

Well, once and for all, I'm de-lurking, and posting on some of my favorite topics.   So, don't be too hard on me, okay (I'll put my "history" over at the "How did you get interested?" thread).

Anyway, I went to see "Anastasia" when it first came out (the cartoon, not the Bergman movie), and I was probably the oldest person in the place without a child (30+).  Having read N&A when I was 12, I was looking forward to a "somewhat" historical movie -- even though it was a cartoon -- of IF (and Anna Anderson for that matter).

Well, I proceeded to sit there and sob through the whole thing -- not just because of the music (yes, I DO love "Once Upon a December" -- mainly because of the scene of AN dancing with her father and the IF walking down the stairs), but because the thing was so awful.  Rasputin as an evil genius who sold his soul to the devil and ends up having a BAT as a companion?  It was really too much to take!  

The producers certainly did their "homework" in the layouts (pictures of the palace, the REAL Anastasia's childhood drawing), and that's what made it that much worse because they chose to ignore the real thing for the fake stuff.  

But I DO understand they were targeting a "certain" audience (probably 10 and under), and they definitely wouldn't have shown the family getting slaughtered in the cellar.

So I walked out of the theater blowing my nose while everyone else was rushing to the toy stores to buy the dolls from the movie.  Ugh!  

I KNOW I'm on the wrong thread for this (and can't really figure out how to open a new one -- sorry), but why not get a topic started on the best actor who played Nicholas?  (Of course, my vote overwhelmingly goes for Michael Jayston, but was wondering about opinions on others). ???

BTW, is Jayston still alive and did he do anything of note after N&A?  It took my breath away when I saw a picture of the REAL Nicholas and the striking resemblance between the two (that is, as compared to others that have played the part since then).

Had to "hop in" and vote for JS -- although I agree that she was a little "harsh" in parts of N&A (but that was the dialogue she was given).  I NEVER really thought that Alix could have called Nicky a "murderer" (when they were discussing Alexis -- or anything else for that matter).

Also, I would love to find out when Ethel Barrymore said she "saw" (or "met") Empress Alexandra.  Someone posted earlier that they thought they had read that EB had said she saw Alexandra at Queen Victoria's funeral, BUT I didn't think Alix attended her grandmother's funeral because she was pregnant with Anastasia at the time and couldn't travel (see Massie's N&A -- Alix is quoted -- and I'm paraphrasing -- that she was unable to attend the funeral and was  "so upset I won't see dear Grannie's face again")

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