*Note, while I will try to avoid major spoilers, I sometimes won't be able to help it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, Russia, 1914" by Carolyn Meyer

First off, readers should know that this book is historical fiction.  I have read a number of reviews complaining that this book doesn't include enough factual information.  That's because it doesn't have too.  If you want just facts, please proceed to the nonfiction section.  Or the internet (just be sure to check your sources).  Anyways...

I believe I was in second grade when the animated Anastasia  film was released.  I remember being slightly obsessed over the movie, going around singing Once Upon a December and coloring in my Anastasia coloring book.  To this day, the movie is pretty high on my list favorite animated films.  So it makes sense that I immediately picked up this book years and years ago at the local library.

Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, Russia, 1914 by Carolyn Meyer is the (fictional) diary of Anastasia Romanov.  It follows her story from a young teenager until shortly before her execution in 1918.  Anastasia doesn't lead always live and grand and glamorous life.  She shares a bedroom with her sister (obviously their palace had enough space to give each of the Grand Duchesses their own room) and  rises early to a day filled with studies.  Of course she also attends lavish parties and never has to worry about where her next meal is coming from, but she doesn't come across as a spoiled rich girl either.  She is quite mischivious and a bit sneaky, seeking out her sisters diaries but making a point to keep hers hidden.  The journal includes real people from Anastasia's life (there is an appendix in the back of the book that lists the fictional characters, but most of them are very minor characters) as well as real events.

This book presents a piece of history in a child friendly fashion.  Anastasia is clearly confused about the events going on around her and that makes sense.  It is believable that her father wouldn't sit down and speak with his youngest daughter about the political struggles going on in Russia.  It also makes sense that a young reader wouldn't be interested in that yet so it isn't a huge focus in the book.  Again, this is a piece of fiction so it's alright that the book is not filled with every detail and date that led to the fall of the Tsar's rule.

This a great book for younger girls interested in the life of Anastasia (or for other princess, check out the rest of the The Royal Diaries series).  One thing to keep in mind: the book was published prior to the 2007 discovery of the final missing Romanov bodies, so some of the information is a bit outdated.  I would partner this book with a biography of the Romanov family or a book that revolves around Russia during this time period.  It would be an interesting way to enhance a young reader's knowledge as well as to help develop a love of history.

Happy Reading!

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