Monday, January 23, 2012

Alix and Nicky..The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virginia Rounding

When the heir to the Russian Throne, Nicholas became engaged to Queen Victoria`s granddaughter Alix of Hesse few could imagine the heartbreak and tragedy that lay in wait for the couple, their children, their extended family and their dynasty, some may have guessed that the beautiful but shy Alix was not suited to the machinations of the Russian Court but few would have seen that equally her beloved was not going to be up to the task of pulling the Dynasty along with him into a noble future.
This Romanov family have been popular book subjects since Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie and the resulting movie hit the public spotlight in 1967/1968, little had been known before and what was out there was murky and shrouded in the spectre of the mad monk Rasputin. After the old Communist reign fell away knowledge simply flooded through and so did the books be they narrative or the very popular coffee table variety, most of which I own. It has been a number of years however since I have read a book on this subject as good as Roundings. Much broader in scope than the title would suggest, it flows along linking one chapter of the story to the next with a seamlessness that is borne out of very good research and good writing skills coupled with the ability to see the bigger picture and a depth of understanding of her characters that is enlightening. Rounding empathises but she does not hesitate to call a spade a spade, neither is she particularly prudish. She gets to the point of the matter and uses language that fits in with what is actually meant in the recounting rather than glossing it over, it adds humour as well as humanity to her characters lives.I particularly liked the way she linked one characters story in with that of another and how she dug into the background of a situation from a number of viewpoints, this enabled her to get as close as possible to the truth.
Like Massie`s book this is easy to read and very engaging, pick it up and its hard to put down. Well written and with plenty of facts and figures but no stodge, the narrative carries you along and even if you know what is coming, the affect is never lessened or diluted. As another chapter in the Romanov saga it is very welcome indeed.
Available by special order from your local Indie or from The Auckland Library system, anyone who enjoys history will enjoy this.

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