In high school, world history was always one of my favorite subjects, and I loved nothing more than learning about Tsar Nicholas II and the rest of the royal family. Rasputin, the “mad monk”, was a person worthy of dark nightmares, and the idea that one or even two of the Romanov children survived the terrible assassination that fateful night in 1917 has been something I have pondered over for years. Any time a news headline surfaces involving the royal family, I always have to stop whatever it is I’m doing and read every single word of the article.
The Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen is the newest historical fiction title to catch my eye that re-imagines what happened in the lavish palaces of the Romanovs during their last few years in a Russia filled with political turmoil. Mossanen’s fictional character Darya is the caretaker of the youngest–and only–male heir, Alexei. She is brought into the palace because her opal eye is said to give her powers of healing, but even she is unable to heal the hemophiliac prince.
For years after the terrible tragedy, Darya blames herself for the deaths of her beloved Romanov family. She feels responsible for bringing the mad monk Rasputin into the lives of the royal family, believing that he can heal the young prince. However, Darya has never failed in her belief that Alexei survived the murders and is still alive somewhere, waiting for her to find him.
The Last Romanov is one of the most descriptive and beautifully written fictional pieces that I have ever read about the Imperial family. I felt as if I had really been transported back to 1917, and the years preceding it. It was obvious to me that Mossanen had meticulously researched Russian history in order to write this novel.
The Last Romanov flips back and forth between Darya’s past and her present, where is she is a 104-year-old woman living in the ruins of the Entertainment Palace, alive and thriving on precious ambergris that keeps her youthful in her old age. Her present is very heartbreaking, and I never felt that the tragedy that befell the Romanovs was her fault. During the passages involving her past, she did find a small amount of happiness with a Jewish artist.
As much as I enjoyed Mossanen’s descriptions, I could not help but feel a slight amount of confusion over a few key plot points. I didn’t quite understand what the “magical seedlings” that grew into berries signified; Rasputin gave them to her before his death with a prophecy that she would not think of them again until she needed them. She believed them to be a poison, but I wasn’t sure if they actually were a poison intended to end her lengthy life. I also was very confused over the ending and what it meant, and might have to take a second look at it to try to decipher what became of Darya.
The Last Romanov is not a book that can easily be read in a few hours; this is one that you will want to dedicate your attention to so that you can absorb all of the fine details and really grasp the meaning of Mossanen’s words.
The Last Romanov will be
in stores April 3rd, 2012.
Enter to Your Own Copy of The Last Romanov :
Sourcebooks Landmark is generously providing me with 2 copies of The Last Romanov to give away. This giveaway is open to US/Can only. This giveaway ends on April 17th, 2012 at 11:59 PM MST
Here’s how to enter:
- +3: Comment on this blog post with your favorite period of world history. (mandatory entry)
- +1: Follow @LiterallyJen on Twitter (tell me your handle in your comment so I can verify)
- +1: “Like” LiterallyJen on Facebook (you can still get this point if you are already a follower, just let me know in the comment section)
- +1: Follow the author, @dorlev, on Twitter (tell me your handle so I can verify)
- “Like” this post on Facebook
- Tweet about this giveaway (leave me the link to your tweet)
Important: Please make sure you provide me with your links so that I can verify. You can include everything in just one comment rather than a new comment for each thing you do to enter. If links are not included in your comment, you will not get credit for completing it. Thank you!