As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

January 14, 2014

THE LOST CROWN by Sarah Miller, 2012

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
Language: mild
Sensuality: mild fancies of romance
Violence: mild allusions, secondhand accounts of revolution
Mature Themes: Politics and war


Jaina said...

Wow, I was just talking about the Russian revolution earlier today! I'm a huge - well, I don't think "fan" is the right word for something so sad, but, um, enthusiast! That's it. I'm a huge enthusiast about the last Romanov family, and have been for years. I've read many books about them, both fictional and not, and that one looks like a great one to add to my list. :)

Now, I have a question that has nothing to do with this particular book. You see, I just started a book blog a few weeks ago (, and today I realized that I'm probably doing something wrong with my cover images. I figured I'd come over here and ask you guys for help! :) Right now my cover pics are just taken from sites like Goodreads and Amazon, I just plug in the link and I'm good. But I saw online that that's actually stealing bandwith (something that I, who doesn't have a phone, never even thought of), and I saw lots of stuff about copyright. So I'm looking for advice from someone who knows what they're doing. What do you advise for putting in cover pics?

Amy Finnegan {} said...

Jaina, as I understand covers and content within books, it isn't a problem to use the cover or quote from the book as it's done on a book blog. When it's wrong is if, say, someone was putting the cover of a popular book on a t-shirt or calendar, or something, then selling it. That would definitely be a problem. I would also not alter the cover in any way, just post it as it is. Publishers themselves send their books to book bloggers to read and review, knowing that they will post both quotes and covers from the book. And there is absolutely no legal jargon discussed. It's just how things are done.

Also, if someone wants to sell a used book on Amazon or Ebay, the cover image is used without any problem. So don't stress out about it. You're not doing anything wrong :)

Jaina said...

Phew, thanks for the reassuring. I was starting to get really worried! Now I can review in peace. :)

Oh, and I know you guys all love THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A Nielsen. I was wondering if you might want to check out my review? It's at
I feel so pushy putting it forward like this, but I figured I might as well try. :)