This biography of the four Romanov sisters (collectively known as OTMA) demonstrates the absolute tragedy of their lives. Rappaport does an amazing job conveying their sheltered existence, but also illustrates their distinct personalities. What I found most sad about their circumstances were the many miscalculations their mother, Empress Alexandra, made in their upbringing. They were shielded from public view during their formative years and did not have any friends their own age. Their existence was secondary to their brother the tsarevich, though his hemophilia was a closely guarded secret, and his illness was a great strain on the entire family. Alexandra’s relationship with Rasputin did not help their reputation either. I also find it heartbreaking that Olga and Tatiana had such limited prospects for marriage when they came of age.
I feel I learned a great deal more about each individual Grand Duchess. I adored Tatiana’s steadfastness, her nursing skills, and her inner strength. Poor Olga seems to have suffered most through the war and their captivity, both from heartache and the moroseness of the situation. Anastasia was the much needed comic relief, and Maria was hearty and helpful. One can only imagine how things would have turned out differently if their parents had made different decisions as they grew up or all of the other circumstantial elements (like exile) would have worked in their favor. Regardless, these are four young, promising, and beautiful lives that were unnecessarily cut short.
I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.
Another great Romanov book by Rappaport is The Last Days of the Romanovs.