Written by Joanna, staff member, Halifax Central Library
In 2019 Netflix released the docudrama series, The Last Czars, about Nicholas II and Alexandra and their family. Nicholas II and Alexandra, as well as their five children, were the last family of Romanov czars, a dynasty that ruled Russia since 1613. The entire family was executed by revolutionary soldiers in 1918.
The lives and brutal end of the Romanovs have been a source of fascination in the century since. Especially intriguing is the mystery surrounding the possible survival of one of the daughters, that of Anastasia. For decades, a woman named Anna Anderson claimed she was the missing Anastasia. The Last Czars is framed by Anna’s story, as a former tutor to the Romanov children meets a woman who claims to be Anastasia.
If you would like to learn more about the Romanovs, here are a number of titles, both fiction and non-fiction, that are available through the Library. Please note: while holds on physical items are deactivated, you can place titles on your 'For Later' shelf.
1. The Romanovs, 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore
As a foundational non-fiction history of the family and Russia, The Romanovs, 1613-1918, by Simon Sebag Montefiore is essential. If you watch The Last Czars, Montefiore and his fantastic accent appear throughout. Be forewarned, this is a big book not for the faint of heart at almost 800 pages! For those interested in the history but looking for a slightly slimmer volume of it—lucky you—there is a summary of the book available through hoopla.
2. The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming contrasts the lives of the Romanovs with that of everyday Russians.
3. The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport
The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport builds off of letters, diaries and other archival sources to bring to life the four Romanov daughters as the aspiring young women they were.
4. The Resurrection of the Romanovs by Greg King
If you are interested in the story of Anastasia, and that of Anna Anderson, The Resurrection of the Romanovs by Greg King tells the story of Anna and her claims to be the lost princess Anastasia. This non-fiction book is a thoroughly researched and detailed account of the truths and mistruths of the missing princess and Anna Anderson’s claims.
1. I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon parallels the present-day story of Anna Anderson against that of Anastasia as she and her family spend their time in exile. The novel is truly one of historical suspense--is she the missing Anastasia, or isn’t she?
2. Romanov by Nadine Brandes
Romanov by Nadine Brandes follows Anastasia, or Nastya, Romanov. The novel interweaves history and heartbreak with a dash of magical realism sure to enthrall readers.
3. The Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen
Diverging from the story of Anastasia, but keeping with the possibility of a survivor is The Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen. This novel of magical realism tells the tale of a woman haunted by her time with the Romanovs and determined to find the heir Alexei, who she believes to have survived.
4. The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander
The author Robert Alexander weaves his novel, The Romanov Bride, around czarina Alexandra’s older sister Elisavyeta. Elisavyeta manages to escape revolution to Siberia, only to find herself once more at the mercy of revolutionaries in this captivating tale.
5. The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry
For those more interested in thrillers, the Romanov story has also managed to capture the attention of novelists of that genre. The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry imagines Russia re-adopting the monarchy, however a mysterious group works to prevent this from happening. The story is one of suspense sure to keep readers guessing.