I found The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia on the new release shelf in the YA section of my town library. I tend to prefer fiction, but I also love history, especially 19th century history.
The Family Romanov was meticulously researched by Candace Fleming. She presents her findings in an engaging manner, and she includes fascinating tidbits to pique the interest of the young reader. Fleming begins with marriage of Tsarevich Nicholas and Alexandra, who was one of Queen Victoria’s German-born grandchildren. The union was considered unlucky or cursed because they married when Nicholas was supposed to be in mourning following the death of his father. This proves to be rather prophetic, considering the gruesome end that the family met.
Fleming touches upon both the personal lives of the royal family, and the sociopolitical events that shaped Russia toward the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. The vast majority of the Russian population lived in abject poverty, and although their revolution came much later than many of the others that swept Europe, the people longed for change. When they were denied that opportunity, they lashed out against the monarchs who were once revered.
The more tender moments of the book are the happiest. The family clearly loved each other, and spent many happy days together in their various vacation homes. It was a surprise to learn that the girls loved photography, and it is devastating to read about how the lively family changed as they were shuffled from their lavish palace to smaller and more sparse accommodations after they were taken into custody. Fleming does not withhold information from the target audience, but information is presented in a factual and age-appropriate manner.
I would recommend The Family Romanov. This book is best suited for readers in middle school and high school, but it is also a good choice for adult readers with a casual interest in history. This is a subject that I studied in high school, but the information was condensed and was part of a larger overview of World War I and its aftermath. Fleming’s engaging presentation has given me a new appreciation for Russian history.