The Romanov Sisters + why I adore history

20 June 2015

When I was younger, I loved the movie Anastastia. It had such a different, darker story than any other cartoon I'd ever seen. I was fascinated by Anastasia and Dimitri's journey, Rasputin, the villain, was actually quite terrifying unlike other villains I had encountered, and the music was just as good as any Disney soundtrack.

But a couple years ago I randomly discovered that the movie was actually based on a true story!
I felt both completely ignorant that I had never heard of it before, and beyond excited to look further into the story. And, not to mention kind of terrified that Rasputin actually existed. 
I spent a good week reading any article I could find on the Romanovs. I immersed myself in the entire terrible, heartbreaking story of the last Tsar and his family.

I have been perfectly obsessed with the Romanovs and Russian history for quite a long time now. So, of course, when I saw The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport come up in my Goodreads feed, I knew I had to snatch it up immediately!
This book did not disappoint one bit, and is, in fact, the most interesting, beautiful nonfiction book I have ever read. It is thick and gorgeous and stuffed with black and white pictures and an incredible story inside. 

Reading this book made the family seem more real to me.
It's hard sometimes, when you are so familiar with a historical event. It make it almost turn into a sort of fairy tale or legend in my mind. It's difficult to imagine that it really happened.
This book was able to take these facts that I've known so well and display them in a realistic way. Instead of the regal royal family the Romanovs were known as when they were alive, or the tragic historical figures they illustrated as today, Helen Rappaport portrayed them how they really were.

In the movie granted, the movie is not the most historically accurate thing ever, and in many articles I've read over the years, the focus is mainly on Anastasia. I understand why, but know one ever gets to hear about the other siblings Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Alexei, or their parents, Nicholas and Alexandra.

In The Romanov Sisters, the focus is one the entire family, which was something I really appreciate while I was reading.
I got to see the distinct differences in each sister's personality. I felt like I could relate to them more, but it also made the ending that much harder.

One thing I found surprising while I was reading was the fact that I felt sorry not just for the sisters, but for Nicholas and Alexandra as well, as they struggled with the pressures of pleasing their county along with raising their five children. I could feel their frustrations when they didn't have a boy at first, I felt their helplessness when they were so dependent on Rasputin, and their guilt whenever Alexei would suffer from his Hemophilia.

I did discover new things that I didn't know about the family while reading this amazing book, even though I thought I already knew everything there possibly was to know about the Romanovs.

Of course the ending made me cry...

Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia were nothing more than four teenage girls who dealt with things that every teenage girl deals with. They had crushes on handsome soldiers, insecurities about their looks, disagreements with their parents, and loads of schoolwork to do.
It's hard for me to think of them going through the things they did.
I imagine myself and my sisters, I imagine if it were us in their place. What makes Me, Chauncea, Erin, Emma, and Leigha any different than the four Romanov sisters? What makes my brothers any different from Alexei?
They didn't deserve the ending they got. Nobody in that situation really does. But it happened.

History is one of my favorite things. It blows my mind how all the stories from all over the world act as a point, each point connecting to another, like a twisting line on my graph paper that only God can make sense of. I've been doing a lot of graphing, can you tell? Making the world as it is today.

Not everything goes great. There's so much tragedy twisted through the timeline, and that's because we live in an imperfect world. It's hard for me to realize the purpose behind it all when I learn about a story such as the short lives of the Romanov sisters.
But in the end I have to remember that this all is not only the story of the humans, it is the story of God. It all really happened, and there is a beautiful reason for it, even though I might not know it yet.

God is a plotter, and he is the best author ever

And that's why I adore learning history so much.
P.S. I know I most likely bored you all to death with my obsession with the Russian Royal family, and I apologize if I did, but hey, it was going to explode out of me sometime. Seriously, though, I recommend you at least go look up the story. It's so intriguing and interesting. 


  1. YESSSS, SOMEONE ELSE WHO LOVES THE ROMANOV FAMILY HISTORY! *squee!* Okay, I was seriously so stoked, because I grew up watching the Anastasia movie too, (and still do watch it. I totally agree with you about the plot line! It's like... very dark and more intense than other disney animations) and that got me really intrigued by Russian history and the royal family. I have never seen this book before, but now I am absolutely putting it on my reading list!

    1. Yay! I'm not weird and insane! And, yes, you should totes read this if you are at all interested in the Romanovs. You will love it :)

  2. Another fan of hte Romanov family?!?!! YAY! :D although what happened to them wasn't yay
    This book sounds so incredibly awesome! I did an assignment on Anistasia when I was 11 I think and from there my interest grew.. I've played the music from the movie in Orchestra too.

    1. Yeah, what happened was not yay in the least...
      I would love to write a paper about Anastasia! That would be one assignment I would enjoy immensely :)
      And gahhh, I bet the music sounded so pretty.

  3. You did not bore me!!! I love this story/part of history, too, although I've never seen the disney movie (it's on my list!)
    Also, btw, I love the way you wrote about this. Soon poetic - and I adore the graphing metaphor! ♡

    Ps - if you still need guest posters I'm happy to help out! :)

    1. Thank you. dear :) You should come over sometime. We could watch Anastasia together and drink tea!

  4. You did quite the *opposite* of bore me to death ;) Very well-written post, Hannah. I'm fascinated by the Romanov family as well (and yes, it's partially due to growing up watching that fantastic movie). Their story is so intriguing, and so disturbing and heartbreaking.

    I agree with you about why history is so moving. God is great.

  5. I read a book a few years ago called The Quest for Anastasia, and found it quite fascinating. It went into a lot of details I hadn't read about before, and also talked a lot about the mythology of Anastasia and the various women who claimed to be her.

    1. That's cool! I've learned a lot about all of the people who imitated her. There are just so many different parts to this story, it's amazing!

  6. Oh my word! This book looks so beautiful! I wish I didn't have so many books to read, then I would probably gobble this down as soon as I could. Also a book that I would cry over because it is so sad and real. :-)

    A lot of attention has gone to Anastasia when it comes to the last Romanov family, so I know what it feels like to actually get a book that talks about the entire family. It is also nice to see an Orthodox cross on the cover. Most biographies skip the religious part of the Romanov family's life, which is really annoying because religion was the most important part of their life and was always respected. Religion is what made the Tsar so important, the fact that he was anointed by God to rule Russia and carry it's burden. If you read what the Orthodox church writes about the Royal Family, it is really beautiful. (I am a Orthodox Christian, so what I am writing could be considered biased.)

    There is another book you might like. It's called An Englishman in the Court of the Tsar. The book was written about the stories from the children's English tutor. There is another book about the Romanov children's aunt, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. She was Alexandra's elder sister and she married Tsar Nicholas's uncle, the Grand Duke Sergei. The first half of her life was spent as a Grand Duchess, and the second half of her life was spent as a nun. Her story is so beautiful, and she was very beautiful herself. They say that the two most beautiful women in Europe were the two Elizabeth's, Empress Elizabeth of Austria and Hungry and Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia. They say that she wasn't very photogenic and that the pictures of her don't really show her beauty, but if you look at any pictures of her it is hard to believe because she was so beautiful.

    Sorry for writing such a long comment. I know that this is not your most recent post, but I love the Romanovs so much, I couldn't help but make a comment.

  7. My mother is a decendant of the Romanov's.