By Nadine Brandes

“The History Books say I died. They don’t know the half of it.”

These words can be found on the inside cover of the book sleeve. Powerful words. Powerful story.  To say that this book changed me is an understatement. As a little girl, I adored the Disney film, Anastasia. Till this day I find myself humming the soundtrack. The story of the orphan girl surviving the revolution that killed her family touched me to my deepest core.

“The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory, and time.” 

Nadine Brandes, Romanov

I didn’t know half of it.

After reading this historical fiction, I found I have a need to know more, to learn more about a story that changed the world. The Romanov’s intrigue me. Following the story of the Romanov’s, this novel shows the span of a few months they lived in exile, leading up to their execution. Everything after this point is fictional. Brandes based this on the almost ninety years of speculation that Anastasia (16years old) and Alexei (13years old) survived. In 2007, their bodies were discovered in a separate, nearby grave. This forms her base for the “happily ever after” she hoped they had.

Have the tissues ready.

Based on historical recordings, Brandes cultivated Nastya’s character on her “impishness”. Playing pranks and putting on plays to lift her family’s spirits during the exile. Her vivid writing style had me laughing at Nastya’s impishness, particularly when she placed eggs in the guard’s shoes and crying during the horrible scene on July 16. I nearly stopped reading due to the tears. The gruesome acts of that night had me questioning the humankind and its humanity.

“Alexei waggles his eyebrows. “Does Soldier Zash liiiiike you?” I snorted. “Certainly not!” “Oh. Well, excuse me for assuming that risking his life might be a sign of affection.”

My traitorous pulse quickened. “It’s not like that.” Alexei folded his arms and adopted a snooty tsar expression. “Until you provided me with a believable alternative, I will hold to my own opinions”

 Nadine Brandes, Romanov

Every story has two sides.

And this side needed to be told. The Romanov’s leaned towards secrecy, and maybe if they had been more open this story would have a different ending. Instead it holds a powerful lesson and an even more powerful question. Would you be able to forgive?

“Peace, quiet, and safety are all well. But community and relationships are what truly fill a person’s life.

Nadine Brandes, Romanov

There is something in this book for everyone. I am certain you will be able to relate to at least one of the family members. But most importantly, I’m sure you will be able to relate to the struggle with forgiveness and the willingness to sacrifice everything for your loved ones. The turmoil between the hurt and peace her religion offers her, touched me deeply. The choice of letting go and moving on. I highly recommend you read this.

I usually avoid the acknowledgements and Author’s note, but something pulled me towards this section. Nadine Brandes has a love for the Russian people and aimed to do their history justice. She gives a clear indication of what is historically accurate and what is stretched. She also explains how certain characters represent the turmoil Russia faced during this time.

If you are interested in more than just the fairytale, this book is definitely for you. If you are simply curious about the story, it is well worth the read.

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