Robert Alexander recounts the story of the Romanov Imperial family through the last uncertain days of their captivity in 1918. The narrator is an elderly gentleman recording the story of his tenure as “the kitchen boy” in the house with Nicholas, Alexandra, their five children and a few servants. His interactions with the family show them to be devoted to each other, living in painful suspense, but finding small pleasures in reading together, or over a simple meal of coarse bread and butter. The author weaves a seamless blend of history and fiction, detailing the girls endless sewing of jewels into their clothing in hopes of carrying them off in some escape or a series of notes secretly sent to and from imprisoned family, that actually now exist in archives. And I was surprised how much of this version of family’s life was devoted to their faith and trust in God through their last days.
The tension builds until their horrific execution and the aftermath of disposing of the bodies that follows. Decades later it was discovered that two of the bodies were never located, adding to the mystery that unfolds in the last riveting chapters of the book– the twists and turns that may have happened. We’ll really never know. I think you might love this immensely readable book pulled along by the depth of the characters and the less than predictable plot.