Summary: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand–first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand dutchesses living a life steeped in tradition and priviledge. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together–sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.
But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia.
As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined.
At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, this novel by acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion.
- Well-researched and compelling historical fiction of the last months of the Romanovs
- Confusing alternating narratives between the four sisters
- Reminded me of The Diary of Anne Frank
Other than a vague understanding of the Anastasia rumor (and watching the animated movies way back when I was a kid), I really knew very little about the Romanovs and Russian history at that time. THE LOST CROWN is a fascinating read and it made me very eager to learn more about the Romanov family.
The narrative in THE LOST CROWN alternates between the four Romanov sisters: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. To be honest, it wasn’t the Russian nicknames that were the most confusing part about the novel; it was the fact that the perspectives of the sisters sound too similar which made it difficult to distinguish one from the other. As the novel went on, I was able to distinguish certain characteristics upon each sister, but I doubt that I could tell exactly who is narrating in a given chapter without having to look at the heading at the start of the chapter.
The pacing of the novel was a bit slow, which was a refreshing change for me in contrast of the other novels I’ve recently read. Miller takes her time to unfold the story. Her descriptions are lush and I could really imagine myself amongst the sisters. It did take her a while to explain things such as the condition of their brother Alexei, the heir who would have been the next tsar of Russia. I ended up having to quickly Google Alexei to find out what was wrong with him. Miller does explain later on that Alexei had hemophilia, but it was a little too late for me. I had already looked up the condition way before it was said in the novel. This didn’t really bother me, since I do have a knack of looking it up online whenever any character gets sick in any novel.
THE LOST CROWN reminded me a lot of The Diary of Anne Frank because of the way that it made me root for the sisters Romanov and the rest of their family despite the fact that I knew how the story had to end. After reading the novel, I did get attached to Olga, Maria, Tatiana and Anastasia and it was unfathomable to think that their end would not be so happy. It was so difficult for me to understand why their family had been at fault and why no one had really stepped in to save them. I guess that would require a bigger world history lesson to truly understand the political dynamics at the time, but I should add that Miller’s note at the end of the novel did answer some of the brewing questions I had.
I would really only recommend THE LOST CROWN to readers who absolutely love historical fiction. THE LOST CROWN is a lengthy and ambitious read for a reader who only has a little interest in the book. The pacing is slow and can become tedious for someone who is not a fan of the genre. On the other hand, if you are a big fan of historical fiction, I would really suggest for you to pick this up! It was such a fascinating read and it did make me more interested in researching the Romanovs a bit more. Miller wrote a fantastic and well-researched novel that placed me in the shoes of the Romanov sisters. I give this book a rating of four stars because while it is a fantastic historical fiction, it probably would not be a big hit for readers who are not fan of the genre.