Alexander Palace Forum

Books and Films about the Romanovs and Imperial Russia => Books about the Romanovs and Imperial Russia => Topic started by: primrose on January 19, 2012, 10:03:18 PM

Title: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: primrose on January 19, 2012, 10:03:18 PM
I've just begun to read this book, there's a nice plug for the AP Forum in the Introduction and great photographs, mostly from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale.

primrose
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: Geniebeanie on January 19, 2012, 11:30:40 PM
I got it on my Kindle Fire and aleady finished it.  Loved it.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: Suzanne on January 30, 2012, 08:29:32 AM
I just finished reading this book and enjoyed it. Rounding discusses aspects of Nicholas and Alexandra's marriage that have not received enough attention in previous works such as the couple's friendship with Anna Viroubova, the precise nature of Alexandra's health problems (although the unhelpful term "hysteria" is still employed in a few instances), and their artistic and literary tastes. It was very interesting to know how their tastes in sentimental novels compared to the avant-garde cultural millieu of the broader Russian aristocracy. Rounding also uses sources that have been underutilized by previous authors such as Spiridovich, Hanbury-Williams, and the reports concerning the Imperial family in the British press.

My only criticism concerns the structure and footnotes of the book. At first it appears that Rounding is adopting a thematic approach to the material, addressing issues such as Russian mysticism and Alexandra's health but subsequent chapters address Alexei's birth, Bloody Sunday, and the opening of the Duma chronologically before returning to Nicholas and Alexandra's courtship in Chapter 5, which is called, "Beginnings." After this chapter, the work follows a chronological framework, except when it skips over the years covered in the opening four chapters such as 1913 and 1905. This approach would be particularly confusing for a reader learning about Nicholas and Alexandra for the first time and often results in the repetition of material. (For example, Queen Victoria's influence over Alexandra in both the health chapter and the  "Beginnings" chapter). I made a similar critique of the structure of "The Russian Court at Sea" elsewhere on this forum. Also, I would have been interested to read Rounding's full footnotes and bibliography as there were some sections that I was interested to learn more about, such as the author's argument that the Imperial children were left "alone" with Rasputin, which I never thought was the case, considering the vast number of servants and security personnell surrounding the Imperial family at all times - and the number of people gossiping about Rasputin's visits to the nurseries.

Overall, an enjoyable read with an interesting new perspective on the Imperial couple.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: Suzanne on February 14, 2012, 10:34:45 AM
I now have my complete review of Rounding's work posted on my royal history website

http://www.royalhistorian.com/the-valentine-day-book-review-virginia-rounding-alix-and-nicky-the-passion-of-the-last-tsar-and-tsarina/

Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: Georgiy on February 17, 2012, 02:15:39 AM
It made for a very interesting read, and a different perspective from Nicholas and ALexandra. A couple of errors that would need to be fixed for the next edition are the implication a couple of times that Alexandra was the third daughter of Princess Alice, and that Joy was shot at Ekaterinburg. Other than that a thumbs up!
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: LisaDavidson on February 19, 2012, 04:27:59 PM
I am still reading it, but other than the structural issues mentioned by "Suzanne", it has some terrific insights and is a good read so far.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: VR2009 on February 23, 2012, 12:27:33 PM
Well, it's a great relief to me you like it!

Virginia
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: EmmyLee on February 23, 2012, 06:40:27 PM
I'm still reading it, but I can say that I'm enjoying it. I agree with Suzanne about the structure of the book, because I don't understand why it started with those chapters and then skipped back to the Beginning.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: LisaDavidson on February 24, 2012, 12:14:57 AM
Virgina, I'm so glad you are posting here! I always get nervous when members are posting their opinions about my writing, and I hope our candor won't bother you.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: s.v.markov on February 27, 2012, 03:28:17 AM
I've had problems acquiring a copy here in UK, but at last one has arrived today (via an importing company). I'm so looking forward to getting started : I had the same feelings of anticipation and excitement as a student in 1967 (Massie), as a teacher in 1996 (Maylunas and Mironenko), and now as a retired person in 2012 (Rounding)......If no-one hears from me for a week or so, you know I'm immersed..,.......!
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: koloagirl on March 01, 2012, 05:44:18 PM

Aloha from Kaua'i!

I ordered the "sample" chapters for my Kindle to see if I wanted to purchase it - and enjoyed them so much that I decided I should
actually order the "book" for my library - rather than Kindle!

Just got it yesterday and am looking forward very much to reading it!

Janet R.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: Louis_Charles on March 03, 2012, 02:32:31 PM
Just finished it, and enjoyed it very much. I tend to agree with the criticisms of the book's structure, but the content was so interesting that the structure became less obtrusive as I read. It was too short, actually --- clearly Roundling has all sorts of interesting perspectives about the relationship (she is sharply critical of AF by the war years, and I would have enjoyed further insight into how Nicholas "dealt" with his wife's meddling), and this was by far and away the best analysis of the relationship of the imperial couple with Vyroubova. Even then, the relationship makes no sense.

Good job!

Simon
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: Griae on March 04, 2012, 10:02:26 AM
This moning I finished my copy of 'Alix and Nicky' and I must say I really liked it. I like that fact that the author really tried to give a different perspective of the events and tried to focus on different aspects.
I enjoyed the chapters about Alix' health, or Nicholas' character. And I was very much intrigued by the analasys of the friendship with Anna Vyrubova.
I do have the same problem the others already mentioned, the overlap in things caused by first a couple of chapters about certain topics, and then some chapters starting again with the beginning.

But I liked the writing style and I enjoyed reading it very much. For me, this is a good addition to me Romanov collection.

greetings, Bettina
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: imperial angel on March 11, 2012, 10:19:11 AM
I enjoyed the more personal(and less political) info about N and A.The Anna Vyrubova part was interesting, but I don't believe it included a part from the Count Alexander Grabbe book, The Private World of the Last Tsar(mentioned in the bibliography) on p.163 that might have been interesting about Anna V not only making Alexandra unhappy about her and the Tsar, but also trying to make her jealous about the Tsar and someone he had never even met! The chronology of the book would be confusing a bit to Romanov newbies, but they could always read Massie's book on N and A first.I suppose the chronology of the book was like it is in an attempt to be different from other Romanov books as so much has been said.It's not confusing if you have read a couple books about the Romanovs though.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: GrandDuchessIsabelle on August 09, 2012, 05:07:16 AM
Read this recently and thoroughly enjoyed it, very well written. One thing I noticed through was how Anya Vyrubova was portrayed. I had always thought of her as a puppy: affectionate, loving and selfless but this books seemed to show her as the opposite: manipulative, demanding and sullen. Did I miss something or have I just been very blind?
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: edubs31 on August 09, 2012, 03:07:27 PM
Read this recently and thoroughly enjoyed it, very well written. One thing I noticed through was how Anya Vyrubova was portrayed. I had always thought of her as a puppy: affectionate, loving and selfless but this books seemed to show her as the opposite: manipulative, demanding and sullen. Did I miss something or have I just been very blind?

I'll go half and half with you GD Isabelle.

Rounding's was one of the first books I read that strongly criticized Vyrubova to the point of painting her as a reprehensible rather than merely a dubious figure. That said there has been much discussion about her manipulative and deceitful ways.

I did find it interesting how much attention Rounding gave to her though.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: Ortipo on September 01, 2012, 09:18:06 AM
I'm inferring that there was something going on behind the scenes with A.V. that was very hush-hush. 

also

I didn't realize before reading this book the extent of influence that Rasputin had on the politics of Imperial Russia.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: GrandDuchessIsabelle on September 04, 2012, 11:40:13 AM
Hmm, the A.V incidents are incredibly shaded. This book does throw some light on it. Yes, one of the main reasons Rasputin was so hated by the gentry was because of his huge influence on Alix. If he disliked a minister, heaven help the poor fellow. One of Alix's downfalls was relying on him so much, I think.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: amelia on September 04, 2012, 12:19:44 PM
I also read the book and I enjoyed it immensely. I was very surprised of the relationship between Nicholas and Ana Viroubova, as portrayed in the book. Was it more than platonic?

Amelia
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: Rodney_G. on September 04, 2012, 05:37:30 PM
I also read the book and I enjoyed it immensely. I was very surprised of the relationship between Nicholas and Ana Viroubova, as portrayed in the book. Was it more than platonic?

Amelia

"Was it more than platonic?"  Well, it certainly wasn't sexual, if that's the question. Was it romantic? Also no, at least on Nicholas' end. Maybe AV felt a little  something towards Nicholas along the lines of flattery and attention or a generalised sense of attraction to someone of the opposite sex; maybe even a misguided attempt to arouse jealousy in Alexandra which might have appeared outwardly to constitute a "relationship'.  Nicholas had a connection to Anna V. almost solely because his wife did;  Mostly he humored her.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: GrandDuchessIsabelle on September 05, 2012, 10:11:42 AM
Anya was rejected by her husband and found Nicholas as the next male figure to her. It was natural for her to develop a 'schoolgirl crush' on him, even if there was no chance in a relationship sexually.
Title: Re: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virgina Rounding
Post by: perdita on November 14, 2012, 10:41:39 AM
Read this recently and thoroughly enjoyed it, very well written. One thing I noticed through was how Anya Vyrubova was portrayed. I had always thought of her as a puppy: affectionate, loving and selfless but this books seemed to show her as the opposite: manipulative, demanding and sullen. Did I miss something or have I just been very blind?

This is how Vyubova is described first hand by her contemporaries:

Pierre Gilliard:

"The Empress only established friendships in which she was quite sure of being the dominant partner...(Vyrubova) had the mind of a child, and her unhappy experiences had shaped her sensibilities without maturing her judgement..Lacking in intellect and discrimination, she was the prey of her impulses..of limited and puerile understanding...docile and unconscious...mischievious...a tool.."

Paleoglogue:

Vyrubova--"Physically coarse..heavily built, with a round head, fleshy lips..limpid eyes devoid of expression..very devout, but unintelligent...unattractive and very dull-witted.."

Felix Yusupov:

Vyrubova--"Stout with a puffy, shiny face, and no charm whatsoever..not at all intelligent...extremely crafty and rather sly...unattractive..quite a problem to find (dancing) partners for her.."

Hardly rave reviews.

Clearly, the unpopular self-isolated Alexandra imagined that a royal in her position required a safe docile companion of unswerving loyalty. The hapless Anya was made to order: servile dog-like, forever "wronged", a dependent in need of protection. Right up Alexandra's ally. True to form, the Tsar's attitute appears to have been to abide & tolerate. Vyrubova does not play a meaningful part in the Emperor's letters, diaries, or thoughts.

The Empress occasionally mocked Anna's infatuation with the Tsar.

Alexandra to Nicholas 1915, quote:

"I am sending you a VERY FAT leter from the Cow (Vyrubova), the lovesick creature would not wait any longer. She must pour out her love otherwise she bursts....It's naughty my grumbling about her, but you know how aggravating she can be."

Alexandra's take on Vyrobova was, at times, sniping & condescending. Exasperated. Eventually, Vyrubova's propensities would cause rifts in their relationship. It seems "The Cow" proved a stretch even for Alexandra's dominate "mothering" instincts.