Author Topic: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport  (Read 40735 times)

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Offline katherine2001

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #30 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!

Offline Kassafrass

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #31 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.
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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2014, 12:05:48 PM »

Offline Kassafrass

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #33 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!
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Offline Georgiy

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #34 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.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #35 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.
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Offline Dru

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #36 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. 

Offline Mandie, the Gothic Empress

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #37 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 motherīs and brotherīs lives.

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #38 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!
« Last Edit: June 09, 2014, 07:13:06 PM by Dev »

Offline Sanochka

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #39 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?

Offline Kassafrass

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #40 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.
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Offline Dru

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #41 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... 

Offline TimM

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #42 on: June 10, 2014, 05:36:58 PM »
This book interests me more and more...
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Dev

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #43 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!

Offline Clovely

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Re: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport
« Reply #44 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?