This book, The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming, satisfied my younger self’s curiosity about what happened to Anastasia after the movie ended. I wore out my VHS copy of Anastasia, the movie put out by Twentieth Century Fox, and even convinced my parents to buy me the giant movie poster that I proudly kept on my walls until I moved away to college. Even though the movie is loosely based on the facts of Russia’s last royal family, the Romanovs, I was hooked and subsequently devoured anything and everything that was published about them.
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia hit my radar when it was announced as a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist and a Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon award winner in 2014. (Check out Candace Fleming’s website for a list of awards and honors that The Family Romanov won.) Instead of making their lives seem more glamorous and perfect, which the mainstream movie and some dramatizations of the royal families’ lives seem to do, Fleming instead chooses to highlight their real lives and not the fantastical.
When Nicholas II, Russia’s last tsar, inherited the throne in 1894, he was completely and totally unprepared to rule. As a result, his wife, Alexandra, a reclusive woman, began steering her husband toward what she believed to be the right way to rule. Fleming narrates the lives of Nicholas II, Alexandra, their four daughters, and their hemophilic son against the background of World War I and the beginning of political unrest that was brewing in Revolutionist Russia. Instead of paying attention and working with the peasants, Alexandra, Nicholas II, and their family decided to seemingly turn a blind eye to the problems of their nation and rest in their richly opulent castle away from the unrest. The children were raised secluded from others and lived a cavalier and sheltered existence that Fleming notes throughout her work. Fleming brings in period photographs and primary research to enhance the entanglements of royal life and the peasants and working class’ lives of squalor.
Read along as Fleming guides you through the lives of Russia’s last royal family, highlighting the key moments that led to the ultimate rebellion of the people, the murder of the family, and the disastrous fall of Imperial Russia.