My favorite childhood movie, without a doubt, was the animated tale of Anastasia, released in 1997 by 20th Century Fox. My sister and I watched the VHS on a monthly basis for years- we knew all of the songs, adored all of the characters (with the exception of Rasputin) and appreciated the whimsical storyline once we became a little older and learned that the Romanov family actually resided in history books.
I could hardly contain myself then when Anastasia made its Broadway debut. I purchased two tickets for my sister and I to watch the performance in New York City, eager to sing along with the cast and relive the magic of our youth.
But while the performance unfolded before our eyes, I was surprised to witness modified details and, while still in my seat, began Googling newfound discoveries that the Broadway show foreshadowed.
It was there, that my fascination with the Romanov Family took hold.
“The Romanovs: The Final Chapter” by Robert K. Massie was my first true literary deep dive into the happenings of the Romanov family. While the play depicted more of a military raid by the Bolsheviks, the book provided more depth to the incidents that led to the royal downfall. At midnight on July 16-17, 1918, all family residents were awakened and instructed to congregate in the cellar of the Ipatiev House, a place where the family members were imprisoned by order of Ural Soviet. Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, were present, along with their five children, Alexis, Olga, Tatiana, Marie, & Anastasia; Dr. Eugene Botkin, Demidova, Alexandra’s maid, Kharitonov, the family cook, & Trupp, Nicholas’ valet. The entire party was shot to death, then carted off to a shallow mass grave near Ekaterinburg, Siberia.
The account delves into the search for the Romanov bodies, testing for validity, the rumors, the imposters, and the findings of some of the world’s leading researchers, scientists, historians and investigators. While there were a lot of names and some chapters were very scientific, I pushed through those to uncover some real gems about the family and their unfortunate fate. The book read like “Devil In The White City” for me, and back then, it took me months to get through the content because I stopped at some of the more dense chapters. Since then, I have learned to skim through the detailed motions and fixate on overarching themes, core truths, and the meatiness of “the thrill:” I’ve come to adore a good murder mystery.
Robert Massie does have another book on Nicholas & Alexandra and I’ve added it to my TBR list. Have you read any other books that have shed light on this riveting mystery? Let me know in the comments below!
FINAL SCORE: 3 This was a great introduction to the truth behind Hollywood and Broadway’s adaptations, but I still have some questions surrounding the Anastasia mystery that I wish were answered here, in more of an all-encompassing narrative. The book took a deep dive into the life of an Imposter and, while interesting, didn’t fully circle back to emphasize where the mystery currently stands.
BEST FOR: Anastasia Enthusiasts (The 90’s Kids) 😊 Non-Fiction Lovers, Murder Mystery Fans
NOT GOOD FOR: Easy Readers Or Those Who Aren’t Passionate About Historical Accounts
IF THIS BOOK/ AUTHOR WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STEREOTYPE: The Anatomy Whiz
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