Wednesday, 2 July 2014



This is a review of book that is based on the royal diaries series published by scholastic press from 1994- 2005. It is written by Carolyn Meyer.

As the title suggests this book is about the last grand duchess of Russia who was, Anastasia Romanov. She was the youngest daughter of Nicholas Alexandrovitch and Alexandria Feodorovna Romanov, the tsar and tsaritsa (i.e. king and queen) of Russia. This novel is based on a diary written by Anastasia when she was 12 years old and describe the life of imperial family in Russia during the turbulence years of 1914 – 1918.  

Anastasia - on cover page of the book
As a custom, every member of the imperial family had his or her own diary in which they were supposed to write about their everyday activities and experiences in life. The diaries of the rest of the royal family were untraceable as they were burned by family members so that no one could get to know about their family secrets. Some diaries were buried or lost.  It is believed that only Anastasia’s diary is available now. During First World War, all members of imperial tsar Family were executed and this Diary became very famous.   According to certain rumors that the last duchess had escaped execution and many girls tried to portray themselves as Anastasia. The most popular one was Anna Anderson which was proved wrong in 2007.

Anastasia’s diary help us to know her experiences and views of the world around from a princess’s point of view. It describes the luxurious and beautiful life of the imperial family and the misfortune on the family due to the war and its consequences that finally lead to the death of entire family.

Anastasia describes each and every member of her family and also nearby friends and other associations. According to it the tsar had four daughters, the older Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and then Anastasia and the youngest son Alexei who was to be the next tsar.

Diary starts from 3/16 January 1914 till 6/9 may 1918. Here there are two dates mentioned as during that time two different calendars were used, Russia used the Julian calendar or old style dates and other regions used new Gregorian calendar or the new style dates .these had a difference of approximately thirteen days which kept reducing over the years.  

Young Duchess - Anastasia

As a typical diary Anastasia wrote about her everyday life like their normal day routine, lessons thought to them, different festivities celebrated, conditions of the country, royal palace’s  where they visited at the change of seasons, relatives, pets , hobbies, likes, dislikes etc. Also from the diary we get to know that Alexei the only son in the family and to be tsar had the disease hemophilia which he had acquired from his mother’s grandmother queen Victoria which the royal family kept a secret from the people of the country. It also tells us about the character & behavior of Anastasia which was different from that of an ideal princess. She was enthusiastic, jolly, fun loving. Also it tells us about the family traditions and sources of fun elements that they had like clicking pictures, ice sleighing, playing cards etc.

It is a like a representation of life in a grand palace the lives of the grand people the pleasures they enjoyed and also specifically the heartfelt nature of this family and the bad luck that the family had due to the war conditions because of which the tsar was abdicated from the throne by the government and so they had to leave the luxury and stay guarded and were finally shot.

From this diary the critical information about the royal family was also found for further research matters. Like in this diary there was a mention of a saint father Grigory (Rasputin) who according to the book was one like a priest very much admired by the Alexandria the tsaritsa who is said to be one of the reasons for the decline of this imperial family as people said that he misguided the tsaritsa.  And in some cases she was also blamed for it because she was German but had married and converted to the orthodox Russian but people felt she was still German from the soul.

I selected this book because I like finding about the lives of the royal people. Royal life style is very fascinating that helps understanding about empires and great leaders. Such books gives insights to historical events and how they turned human progress. Autobiographies, in form of diaries and books based on diaries portray a life and tell us something about what specific individuals did and how did they plan their ways and means.

Also by getting experiences about people we can get to some principles for attaining success in life.
And yes as it is always said history is the story of the past, after knowing which we can make a better future not repeating mistakes of the past.

Book Review - Snigdha Pali