As an expert in the history of modern European royalty, Zeepvat has produced in this book a well-research and very readible and colorful account of life in the Romanov court during the last full century of its existence as a dynasty. She offers some valuable insights as to how this extended family of inbred nobility lived and operated under some of the most difficult political and social circumstances the 19th century had to offer: war, rebellion, death, infidelity, loneliness, and fear of assassination. Each of her stories probes a particular character who made a valuable contribution, in her estimation, to preserving the legacy of czardom. Everybody from the prominent to the obscure in the person of princes, princesses, nannies, tsesareviches, czars, and czarinas, and generals receives some critical praise for keeping the dynasty afloat. In reading these biographical sketches, the reader should be prepared to dispense with any preconceived notions that the Romanovs of the 19th century were just a pack of dynastic ne'er do-wells. As Zeepavt points out, this was a royal family that took its duties and destiny very seriously. What worked against their very good intentions to love and serve their people was the ever-growing ferment of modernization that was starting to rock the empire. The clamor for reform was in the air but Romanovs were not quick to respond for fear that it could destroy them. These were unsafe times when monarchs could not always confidently draw close to their subjects with the assurance that they would be well-received and appreciated. While many czars did occasionally tour this massive kingdom, it was usually under the tightest of security and with the knowledge that their popularity was seriously eroding. The key women in the Russian court of this era perhaps had the biggest challenge of all: bearing and raising children to assume key roles in the administration of royal government. While some lived up to their high calling, there were also many duds who tragically put their own self-interests ahead of those of their subjects. Whatever fault one kind find with this latter collection of Romanovs, disloyalty to each other is not one of them. To confirm this point, Zeepvat includes a great collection of photos showing various members coming together in family shots in annual reunions. In this retelling of the tragic end of a truly great monarchical order, Zeepvat strives to present all its members in the most humanly endearing terms as possible. While they had great love for each other, unfortunately they were unable to find ways in which to share it with commoners outside the palace gates.
on June 21, 2001
Charlotte Zeepvat's efforts are clearly shown throughtout this detailed book. She displays so many minor but interesting characters of the last centruy of Romanovs. Though it gets confusing, it is most likely people's unfamiliarity to the family and history.
Zeepvat paints a good writing of stories on these rarely known royals. Many of the stories can be very tragic and sad but it is none the less, informative.
If I ever need to write a paper on any of the characters, this is the book I will run to. It is a merger of many Romanov books with fantastic photos of the little known royals.
I appreciate Zeepvat's decision not to include much of the general stories of Nicholas II, his family, particularily Anastastia. This book is no Russian Royal book cliche like all the others on the last Tsar et al.,. It is packed with information on specific and interesting characters.
The author has done a wonderful job. If you have at least a slight interest in Russian History, this is the book for you.
on December 12, 2000
Lots of pictures & anecdotes that I have NOT seen in my many, many other Romanov books. The family trees are very complete. The book does NOT cover the same tired Nicholas & Alexandra stories. That is the strength of the book. The weaknesses of the book: could be better edited: it is missing a few lines in family trees, uses different names for the same person (Ella and Elisabeth, Ksenia and Xenia). The book can be hard to follow, but that is the fault of the material, not poor writing. The author talks about the immense whole of the Imperial family, including cousins, grandchildren, nephews etc. where they all seem to have shared the same handful of first names. The author's avoidance of the titles Grand Duke and Duchess is a real annoyance. I enjoyed the book a lot, it was a challenging read, I kept referring back to the family trees, all the time.
on November 12, 2002
This is a well written book that covers the last century of the Russian Romanov dynasty.
The author has chosen a wide focus rather than a narrow one on Nicholas II and Alexandra. For once we get to meet the other family memebers, learn about their personalities and what events shaped their lives and the fate of the dynasty.
We also get to read in detail about the various palaces and estates the family used. These are often referred to in other books without any real background information on their history or importance to the family being described. This book fills that vacume.
If you know nothing about the Romanovs this is a fantastic place to start as all these people's live stories weave in and out of each other to create an amazing and true story.
on December 8, 2000
Most books about the Romanovs concentrate on the last Tsar and his family. Nicholas II was an interesting figure, but he was the head of a large and fascinating family, most of whom are little known today. "Romanov Autumn" gives some detail to the lives of these now obscure people. One thing rather disconcerting is Zeepvat's use of unusual titles, like "Tsesarevitch" or "Grand Prince". Although she explains in her introduction that these are more accurate translations of the Russian titles, most people who read about the Romanovs are so used to "Tsarevitch" or "Grand Duke" that the new forms are jarring. Nevertheless, a Romanov fan should not be without this book.
on May 12, 2002
This wonderful book will give you a greater appreciation for the House of Romanov, with information about various family members and others not immediately included within Tsar Nicholas II's immediate family circle. Some unlikely - but vastly entertaining - stories come to light. You'll especially enjoy the section on Nicky's favorite uncle. :o) Zeepvat's own artwork illustrates the chapter introductions - delightful!
If you want to expand your knowledge of the Romanovs past NAOTMAA and aren't sure where to start, this book is a manageable beginning. It covers many relevant personages and situations from the ninteenth century - the last full century of Romanov rule.
on January 23, 2003
This book goes way beyond the normal stories of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna. Charlotte Zeepvat leads us through the personalities in the Romanov family, and what part they played in imperial Russia and its downfall. Through these biographies the reader can understand the slide from a united family to the rival factions that partly brought about the Revolution and its aftermath. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered about the imperial house of Russia , and the fate that awaited them.
on July 21, 2010
I hardly go through a book from start to finish without interruption. This book is one of the few that captured my interest from the first page to the very last. Zeepvat did an excellent job telling the stories and the peoples of the Imperial Russian family during the 19th and early 20th century. Each chapter focuses on a certain individual of the Romanov family, from Tsar Nicholas I to Nicholas II and everyone is between. I would recommend this book along side another one of Zeepvat's work - The Tsar and the Camera.
on August 16, 2000
The author has done a superb job of providing insights into the Romanovs, their personalities, their quirks, their passions, and their relationships. It is an collection of short stories, each of which stands on its own, but in combination it is a provides insights I haven't found in over 300 books I've read on the Romanovs and their times. For anyone who has even a minor interest in Russian history, this book should be must reading. For a Russophile, it is a banquet of good reading and wonderful insights.
on November 3, 2003
Very well written series of 'short stories' of different members of the Russian royal family at the turn of the 19th century, some obscure and not normally written about, which I found very refreshing. I am an avid collector of historical biographies, Russian royal family especially, but I have never seen such a comprehensive exploration of the Romanovs. Quite a few pictures I had not seen before also. All in all a great investment, and a very good read.