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Topic: Nicholas & Alexandra

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Subject: Nicholas & Alexandra
Date Posted: 5/13/2009 7:08 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
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I'm reading The Kitchen Boy and want to read more about Nicholas & Alexandra.  Preferably fiction - any suggestions?

Date Posted: 5/13/2009 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2009
Posts: 33
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Donna - I know you said you would prefer fiction, but Robert Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra (non-fiction) is incredibly engaging and well written!  I couldn't put it down!  And a lot of people on the History forum seem to agree with me that its a fantastic book. 

Date Posted: 5/13/2009 9:39 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
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I searched Amazon and didn't see any fiction.  I just ordered Massie's N&A from here.  The other one I'm thinking about is Alexandra:  The Last Tzarina by Carolly Erikson.  Anyone read this one?  Still hope to find some fiction.

Date Posted: 5/13/2009 10:02 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
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Omigosh, I'm so excited.  Now that I'm reading The Kitchen Boy I want to know more about N&A, Russia, etc. I turn on the TV and there on the History channel are two 2-hour episodes of Russia Land of the Tsars.  I'm definitely going to Tivo it. 

Can anyone make a recommendation on which  translation of War & Peace to read?  I'm not sure if I want to take this on, but I'm thinking about it.

Date Posted: 5/13/2009 10:32 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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I read a really old translation of War and Peace, but I've heard good things about this one. It's on my WL.

Masie's Nicholas and Alexandra does not read like non-fiction, and I've heard good things about the Erickson book. I had it for awhile, but sent it on when I realized I think I read it before.

I also have heard fantastic things about The Last Tsar by Edvuard Radzinksy. It's in my "To read" pile.

Date Posted: 5/13/2009 10:47 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Donna, I read Nicholas and Alexandra last month and it is excellent.

I read War and Peace earlier this year and my translation was the Norton Critical Edition which is based on the Maude version. What I really liked about the Norton edition was the multitude of footnotes which gave me a better understanding of some historical events and clarified which characters were fictional and which ones were real. One note I remember was the description of how they lit a candle before the invention of modern matches. It was only a few lines long but the note gave me a better appreciation of the era in which the Napoleonic Wars were fought. Also, the maps were very useful in picturing some of the conflicts and logistics. There were also a lot of critical essays and a few were interesting but I did not read them all.

Date Posted: 5/14/2009 10:58 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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I too have Nicholas & Alexandra on my bookshelf . . . . someday.  Along with Rasputin's Daughter, which I still haven't gotten to.

Donna - When is/were the specials on the History Channel. I'd be interested in that.  Bummer that I don't have DVR capabilities.  (We watch very little TV at our house, LOL!)

Date Posted: 5/14/2009 12:18 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
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Shelley, it was on yesterday on History International.  I'll check tonite to see if it will be repeated.  There's also one on the Romanov's next week. 

I'm bummed.  The person I ordered N&A from cancelled.  There's othe copies out there, but I wanted the trade size paperback.  I guess I'll just have to wait.  It's not like I don't have anything else to read.

Date Posted: 5/15/2009 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I've been eyeing that Vintage Classics edition of W&P that Mimi linked. Mostly 'cause the cover is so pretty, LOL. I need a really readable translation, though, and I saw that they've footnoted all the English translations of the French dialogue. Just trying to read the first few pages that way gave me a headache.

I agree that Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra reads like fiction and is a wonderful book. The copy I got from here was a very old trade paperback and fell apart as I read it, or else I'd post it for you, Donna.

I read a really excellent book a few months ago called City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin..it takes place in Berlin in the 1920s and 30s and follows Hitler's rise to power, but the Romanov murders and the character of Anna Anderson/Anastasia are central to the story. I highly recommend it!

Another fun, quicker read is Steve Berry's The Romanov Prophecy--it's certainly not cerebral but I enjoyed it. It's all about the mystery of what happened to the Romanov children.

Date Posted: 5/15/2009 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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I really thought I responded to this, which probably means I posted on some random thread or something. Anyway, I just ordered City of Shadows, thanks. I also have The Romanov Prophecy on my Reminder List, but haven't gotten around to ordering it.

It is my recollection on War and Peace that the French, while now and then used throughout the book (because French rather than Russian was actually the language of many in the Russian Nobility) isn't used that often once you get through that first chapter.

But, then, I also think that Footnotes rock, and that endnotes should be banned ;)

Date Posted: 5/15/2009 7:02 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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Yeah, I know this is fromWikipedia, but this illustrates what I remembered:

Although Tolstoy wrote most of the book, including all the narration, in Russian, significant portions of dialogue (including its opening paragraph) are written in French and speakers would often switch between the languages mid-sentence. This reflected reality, as the Russian aristocracy in the nineteenth century all knew French and often spoke it among themselves, many of them were less competent in Russian. Indeed, Tolstoy refers to an adult Russian aristocrat who has to take Russian lessons to try to master the national language. Less realistically, the Frenchmen portrayed in the novel, including Napoleon himself, sometimes speak in French, sometimes in Russian.

It has been pointed out[15] that it is a deliberate strategy of Tolstoy to use French to portray artifice and insincerity, the language of the theater and deceit while Russian emerges as one of sincerity, honesty and seriousness. So as the book progresses the use of French diminishes. ... The progressive elimination of French from the text is a means of demonstrating that Russia has freed itself from foreign cultural domination. It is also, at the level of plot development, a way of showing that a once-admired and friendly nation, France, has turned into an enemy. By midway through the book, some upper class citizens of Petersburg whose witticisms and puns have so spun on their knowledge of French, are in a hurry to find and hire tutors in Russian.

(I deleted a plot spoiler, don't go to the original if you want the story to be unsullied)



Last Edited on: 5/15/09 7:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/17/2009 10:50 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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Thanks, Mimi--that's some really helpful information! :-) I did wonder about that as I read the first few pages, if the use of French was supposed to signify a certain shallowness or light-mindedness. I should just break down and buy it next time I get a Borders coupon!

Date Posted: 5/20/2009 2:36 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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Time After Time, by Allen Appel, is a time travel novel about a history professor who finds himself sent back in time to the Russian Revolution where he interacts with Nicholas, Alexandra and Rasputin.  A really good book and the first of a series featuring this time traveler, although in the following books he travels to other historical time periods.

Date Posted: 5/22/2009 9:23 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2005
Posts: 714
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If you are intersted in Russian history in general, I would recommend Russka by Edward Rutherfurd. It is a huge book, but I really enjoyed it.

Date Posted: 6/8/2009 1:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/7/2009
Posts: 4
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Nicholas and Alexandra is one of my all-time favorite books of any genre.  I originally read it back in the 70's in high school and fell in love with the whole story of the doomed last Tsar and his beloved Tsarina.  If you love Russian history and wonderfully rich writing, you'll love Massie's N & A.  I also highly recommend the movie, which was very true to the book.  The cinematography and the costumes alone are worth seeing since it was filmed in many of the actual palaces and locations mentioned in the book, but it's one of those increasingly rare epic movies (like Lawrence of Arabia) that just stick in your visual memories.  Reading N & A made me seek out and explore Russian history and yearn to visit Russia and its many treasures - the Catherine Palace, the Hermitage, the Kremlin, the Kremlin, Livadia Palace,and so many others brought alive by Massie's stunning visual narratives.



Last Edited on: 6/8/09 1:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/10/2009 6:21 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2009
Posts: 19
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I second the recommendation for City of Shadows. If you're interested in taking on a perhaps daunting project, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (yes, that Solzhenitsyn) wrote a series called "The Red Wheel," which begins in August 1914 and goes up to April 1917. I have not read the whole series, but I have vague memories of the imperial family making appearances.