After the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport
As a teen, I remember being enamored with a fictional series set in prerevolutionary Russia. This was my first introduction to the Romanov time period and that fascination continued over the years. However, I’d never read much about the plight of the exiles after the Russian revolution. And that’s what drew me to this non-fiction book, After the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport.
This was clearly a well-researched book and the level of detail was impressive. Each chapter was packed with interesting and heartbreaking details and life stories. There was also a very clear sense of the hopelessness and longing for home that these exiles felt and that was very moving.
With such in-depth research, you could definitely find yourself down a rabbit trail of research while reading this one!
However, as someone with a very general interest in the subject, I found the book a bit overwhelming. There was a lot of detail following specific individuals. It probably would have made a difference if I’d been more familiar with the characters versus my first time encountering them. This would definitely not be a problem for history buffs or for those with a more defined interest in the topic.
All in all, I would definitely recommend After the Romanovs for those interested in Russian history. I learned a lot and would certainly check out other books by this author.
Keep reading for the synopsis of After the Romanovs.
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About After the Romanovs
(From the publisher): From Helen Rappaport, the New York Times bestselling author of The Romanov Sisters comes After the Romanovs, the story of the Russian aristocrats, artists, and intellectuals who sought freedom and refuge in the City of Light.
Paris has always been a city of cultural excellence, fine wine and food, and the latest fashions. But it has also been a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution, never more so than before and after the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Romanov dynasty. For years, Russian aristocrats had enjoyed all that Belle Époque Paris had to offer, spending lavishly when they visited. It was a place of artistic experimentation, such as Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. But the brutality of the Bolshevik takeover forced Russians of all types to flee their homeland, sometimes leaving with only the clothes on their backs.
Arriving in Paris, former princes could be seen driving taxicabs, while their wives who could sew worked for the fashion houses, their unique Russian style serving as inspiration for designers like Coco Chanel. Talented intellectuals, artists, poets, philosophers, and writers struggled in exile, eking out a living at menial jobs. Some, like Bunin, Chagall and Stravinsky, encountered great success in the same Paris that welcomed Americans like Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Political activists sought to overthrow the Bolshevik regime from afar, while double agents from both sides plotted espionage and assassination. Others became trapped in a cycle of poverty and their all-consuming homesickness for Russia, the homeland they had been forced to abandon.