Author Topic: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport  (Read 40663 times)

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Offline KarinK

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Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« on: November 10, 2013, 12:53:09 PM »
From the author's website:

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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



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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.

Offline wakas

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #1 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 !
« Last Edit: November 10, 2013, 02:44:48 PM by wakas »
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Offline edubs31

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #2 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!
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline Olga Maria

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #3 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!!!

« Last Edit: November 10, 2013, 11:33:44 PM by Grand Princess Shandroise »

Amazing colored fotos  by the most wonderful Yelena Aleksandrovna. Endless thank you very much!

Offline KarinK

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #4 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.

Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #5 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...

Offline koloagirl

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #6 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.
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Offline KarinK

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2013, 04:13:30 AM »
I noticed that Amazon has an updated book description:

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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.

Offline missb

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #8 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 .

Offline Ally Kumari

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #9 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!

Offline KarinK

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #10 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!

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2014, 02:23:17 AM »
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Offline missb

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #12 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

Offline Mandie, the Gothic Empress

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2014, 12:49:21 PM »
I'm a little confused so "four sisters" and "romanov sisters " are the same book?

Offline KarinK

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #14 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.