Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand duchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. They are young women each on the brink of starting her own life. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together—who link arms and laugh, sisters who share their dreams and worries, and who flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht. But in a gunshot the future changes—for these sisters and for Russia. . . . For Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood collides with the end of more than they ever imagined. (Amazon)
Reviewed by Julie, Children's Lit. enthusiast and pop culture geek
THE LOST CROWN chronicles the lives of the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia in the years leading up to and during the Russian Revolution in the early 20th century. Told through alternating perspectives, the novel examines how the girls' everyday lives devolve into danger. As they struggle to negotiate their dreams and fears for the future, one thing remains constant: their loyalty to each other.
As someone who has been obsessed with the Romanovs since Anastasia, the 1997 animated musical, I have read many, many creative interpretations of the doomed royals' final days. Sarah Miller's The Lost Crown is certainly the most plausible account of what the Grand Duchesses' experiences may have been like. The story is so well-researched and amazingly detailed; the author's passion for history shines through. The accuracy is also refreshing: while many historical fiction novels take unbelievable liberties with the Romanov family and their associates, Miller remains true to the family as historians know them. Although the book, at just under 450 pages, is very long, it moves quickly and will interest readers who are similarly fascinated with Imperial Russia.
The novel uses alternating diary entries as a form of narration, which creates distinct characters of all four girls. Although the film and rumors of her survival make Anastasia the obvious candidate for fiction, Miller does justice to each duchess: Olga is sensitive and intelligent; Tatiana dreams of a career in medicine; Maria wishes for love and romance; and Anastasia is a trickster tasked with keeping spirits up. In addition to the girls' characterizations, Miller expertly tackles the issue of differing historical perspectives: with whom should readers sympathize? What were the characters like, and who was to blame for the terrible end they all faced? What might the girls have been like--how much did they know? The novel is also an interesting examination of history as much more than a series of direct facts.
Market: YA historical fiction
Sensuality: mild fancies of romance
Violence: mild allusions, secondhand accounts of revolution
Mature Themes: Politics and war