Their favourite novels are discussed in detail, the contrast between their enjoyment of mainstream Tchaikovsky ballets and the avant garde tastes of the broader Russian court receives sustained attention. I have had a long standing interest in Tzar Nicholas the second and his life and have read at least half a dozen books about it. The Empress occasionally mocked Anna's infatuation with the Tsar. I did find it interesting how much attention Rounding gave to her though. Their favourite novels are discussed in detail, the contrast between their enjoyment of mainstream Tchaikovsky ballets and the avant garde tastes of the broader Russian court receives sustained attention. It wasn't the most captivating biography of Nicky and Alix that I have read, but it was an essential piece of the overall cannon.
There was some information that was new to me; the role of Anna Vyrubova was especially interesting. The numbers on the piece were matched to an inventory list made by Faberge. Alexandra's grandmother Queen Victoria may have been similarly afflicted. It does into detail about Alix's pregnancies and that she gave birth to fairly large size babies. The increasing emotional and psychological burden on Alexandra, beginning with the life-threatening illness of her son, and which culminated in the murder of her confidante Rasputin and the Abdication of her husband, would probably have crushed most people -but not the Tsarina. Vyrubova had the mind of a child, and her unhappy experiences had shaped her sensibilities without maturing her judgement.
For the full review, visit This book was a goodreads. While I appreciated some aspects, such as the descriptions of the palaces, and various celebrations such as in 1913 and the coronation, the author's attitude was sarcastic and at times snide -- that's hard to take in a nonfiction, historical book. It was not a terrible book by any means. The Empress and Ania Verboyva were not so much bosom chums as rivals for the Tsar's affections. As a historian and Russophile, I know enough of the story to understand what was going on, but someone less familiar with the Romanov family would probably get lost at the start of the book.
One minute we're reading about Nicky's childhood, the next Alix is a grown woman and has been married to Nicky for years, the next Alix and Nicky are writing love letters to each other before they were engaged, and the next we're reading about Nicky's childhood again. Both cities, were located in Galicia, Poland and were the birthplaces of my grandparents. The fact that Alix was shy seems to bother her. This is a pretty rough read. It explored Alix's temperament in relation to her invalidism and this was the first time I've encountered an author who presented a possible diagnosis of her maladies porphyria, a genetic condition, exacerbated by her stressful life I have read a number of books about the last imperial couple of Russia, but this one explored the relationship between them more than any other. Rounding begins with chapters organized by topic, but about halfway through switches to organizing each chapter chronologically, starting over again with I really, really wanted to love this book.
I also disliked the author's writing style. It was amazing being able to read letters of theirs and to really get to know their personalities. I think the book is actually heavier on the suffering side; there is a lot of detail about their struggles, their troubles relating to the Russian people, their personality traits, Alix's illness, etc. Because of this, I just can't give it better than 2 stars. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like a morning star full of life and splendor and joy. Well, perhaps the fact that my copy is rather a large hardback which was incredibly difficult to juggle whilst in bed.
Having read quite a few biographies of Nicholas and Alexandra, I was not sure if there would be anything new for me in this book. I have seen this piece in an exhibition catalogue and it is breath taking. First of all, the organization was weird. Not because it's not a compelling story-- it is, though it can be dense at times and perhaps overly confusing in the description of the ministerial musical chairs and other things-- it's more because the story is almost too compelling. There was a lot of information within this novel, but the majority of everything was political. Through the letters and diaries written by the couple and by those around them, Virginia Rounding presents an intimate, penetrating, and fresh portrayal of these two complex figures and of their passion --- their love and their suffering.
We barely witness their captivity. Her sources were shaky at best and her notes were badly done. The author makes an interesting attempt to understand the Tsarina's ill-health, and she makes the novel suggestion that Alexandra had problems resulting from the inherited gene of Porphyria. Reading about a Tsar and Tsarina I kept wondering how there life's are changed by the whim of the people. She is currently Clerk to the Worshipful Company of Builders' Merchants, a City of London Livery Company, and was for many years administrator of The Consort of Musicke, a vocal and instrument ensemble specialising in English and Italian music of the Renaissance. They apparently felt they were fated to suffer, so they were passive about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that fell upon themselves. Ultimately, it all came crashing down tragically, but the love story of Nicky and Alix continued through to their bitter, unhappy end.
Rounding begins with chapters organized by topic, but about halfway through switches to organizing each chapter chronologically, starting over again with the beginning of their relationship. I feel as though I learnt a lot whilst reading, which is always a bonus. Evocative, lively, and ultimately heartbreaking. This seems really odd to me. I think the most interesting insight I gained was that Alexandra's meddling and championing of the monk Rasputin certainly hastened their demise.
Much has already been written about their lives. My grandmother told me of her family's travail, during the war and how her father met the Kaiser. Because it is well known that they are all executed in July of 1918, one feels I read this book in preparation for our trip to St. Most of the books were non-fiction with a few fiction thrown in Robert Alexander, catherine Gaskin etc. This novel just isn't about the love of Nicky and Alix, but also the political downfall of Nicky and all of Alix's health issues.
Through the letters and diaries written by the couple and by those around them, Virginia Rounding presents an intimate, penetrating, and fresh portrayal of these two complex figures and of their passion—their love and their suffering. This book allowing insight into something that few people know. On one hand, they are venerated as saints, innocent victims of Bolshevik assassins, and on the other they are impugned as the unwitting harbingers of revolution and imperial collapse, blamed for all the ills that befell the Russian people in the 20th century. Why write a book about someone you don't seem to care for? Overall, though the information it contained was good, this book was a disappointment. Theirs was also a tragic love story; for whatever else can be said of them, there can be no doubt that Alix and Nicky adored one another. Please know that I appreciate those who take the time to share their thoughts. Recommended for any bio buffs.