Thursday, 17 July 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
Candace Fleming
Schwartz and Wade
[July 8, 2014]
Finished Copy provided by publisher for tour

From the acclaimed author of Amelia Lost and The Lincolns comes more nonfiction at its very best—and a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards.

Here is the riveting story of the Russian Revolution as it unfolded. When Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew.

Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia’s peasants—and their eventual uprising—Fleming offers up a fascinating portrait, complete with inserts featuring period photographs and compelling primary-source material that brings it all to life. History doesn’t get more interesting than the story of the Romanovs.

I have a secret: I love good non-fiction. Narrative, voice-y non-fiction, really. It all started with my first college level history class being too broad and not teaching me enough, forcing me to look for my own. I don't read it a ton since I've got SO many books I should be reading and reviewing, but I jumped at the chance to join the blog tour for this title from my wishlist. 

The trouble with non-fiction is making sure it doesn't read too dry. If it is, then it's like a textbook and sorry, but I don't read textbooks for fun. I only kind of read textbooks for school, so let's not, you know? 

Candace Fleming isn't allowing that. It really felt like I was reading a novel sometimes. There was tension and character development and building and intertwining of different stories, but all of it was real. It all happened. History can make some fantastic fiction, but it can also just make fantastic stories. I guess my best example is the polarized views we tend to get of Communism and the Romanov family. There tends to be a very black and white view of both, either it/they were good or they weren't. But Fleming made sure to show that the Romanov's were people with good traits and bad traits who made bad decisions but weren't necessarily bad people. And she showed how Communism wasn't all terrible or all good, but it was a crucial movement for the Russian people that lead to the adoption of Communism and it wasn't meant to be all bad.

And it was so intricate, entwining the stories of the beginnings of Communism in Russia and Lenin's rise to power, the plight of most Russians, and the royal family. One of the other issues with non-fiction can be a lack of context. It's why generally you need a broad education of the time or place before you can really delve in when taking classes. So having these three different branches in one book were the best way to tell the full story and put everything in perspective.

This was also an incredibly well researched novel. So in-depth. I'm a history nerd and this is one of my preferred time periods, so I did worry I'd know too much and get bored. The first couple pages didn't really reassure me otherwise, either. It started out with a lot of basics about Russian society that I kind of knew, but tend to forget. But I got further into the story and there was definitely stuff I was familiar with, but somethings I had different information about and then so much I'd NEVER known.

Basically, I loved this book. It was incredibly informative, but a fun read. I was constantly turning pages, wondering where Fleming would bring us next, even though I know the basics of the story. It was addicting and wonderful and I highly recommend this for those who love history/historical fiction, but aren't sold on non-fiction and just those who love non-fiction.

And I'm thrilled to say I have a copy to giveaway! You have one week to enter and one person in the US/Canada can get a finished copy of this amazing book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 Good luck!



  1. When I saw your tweet about a book on the Romanovs I immediately clicked over. I did a paper on them in the 12th grade and they have fascinated me since. Especially the Tsarina's connection with Rasputin, who is SUCH an interesting person.

    I too love when non-fiction is done right, and has an excellent narrative! Thanks for the chance to win it, Julie :)

  2. I would LOVE to read this. I am a huge history buff, and would love to know more about the Romanov family.

  3. I love a good non-fiction, too. Working my way through a history of Genghis Khan right now.

  4. I have been fascinated by the Romanovs, since I saw my grandfather's Life magazine, with their photo, in court dress, on the cover. That was 50 years ago and I still have that magazine!



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