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Book Reviews

Review: “The Lost Crown,” Sarah Miller

June 2, 2011

I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “The Lost Crown,” Sarah MillerThe Lost Crown: A Novel of Romanov Russia (Standalone)
Written by Sarah Miller
Published June, 2011 by Atheneum
448 pages
Provided by: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab
Genres: Historical, Real Events
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five-stars

Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand–first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand dutchesses living a life steeped in tradition and priviledge. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together–sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.

But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia. As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined.

At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, this novel by acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion.

To say this book is superb is a dramatic understatement. If you’re going to read only one YA book featuring the Romanovs, make it The Lost Crown. Although I was a little hesitant to start another Romanov-centric book after recently finishing one, The Lost Crown quickly proved to be more than I was expecting. It now sits firmly in my ‘favourites’ shelf, a decision I came to immediately after closing the last page.

This book is greatly different from other books like it because it tells the story of the Russian Revolution through the eyes of EACH of the sisters. It doesn’t just solely focus on Anastasia like the other ones I can think of off the top of my head (Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble and Anastasia’s Secret by Susanne Dunlap for instance) While I ADORED Anastasia’s Secret, The Lost Crown offers a whole lot more in the way of story and real historical events.

Each sister is blissfully different and Sarah Miller manages to portray that throughout her switching narratives. I can’t believe how well she managed to do this! The format of the pages are also amazing – with a portrait of the sister narrating the story framed at the start of each chapter. It really is a beautiful book (and this was just in e-book format!) I can’t wait to get my hands on a complete hard copy for myself.

Sarah Miller also uses some beautiful prose throughout this book. I was floored in regards to her beautiful descriptions. What a talented writer! I can also see (apart from the intense bibliography at the end) how much research and passion went into the writing of The Lost Crown. I think she did a brilliant job of conveying the historical timeline and keeping true to the real personalities of the Romanovs. Each character has a distinctive voice and it was a pleasure to read. I’ve been interested in this aspect of history for some time now but I’m in no way a major ‘buff’. From my handful of knowledge about the Romanovs I’d says Sarah Miller did a pretty amazing job!

I’m finding it hard to write a fitting review for this book. The Lost Crown took me on such an amazing journey packed full of emotion and it feels like I’m trying to describe all the best aspects of a loved one and failing miserably! I recall starting the book and seeing it was a daunting 450 pages on my e-book reader. I had a little time to think ‘do I really want to get involved in such a large book at the moment?’ but I pressed on anyway. Thank goodness I did because really, once you get going, you can’t believe how fast the pages fly by. No chapter is useless or unnecessary. I feel by the end of this book that we know each character personally, and it couldn’t have been done by sacrificing a few of the weightier chapters.

I can’t think of anything that would make The Lost Crown better; but I was expecting ‘the end’ told through each of the sister’s eyes differently, instead we only got Olga’s (if I recall correctly). I suppose it was a good way to end it, though, without seeing the bloodshed, but I admit I was expecting the event to happen in more detail. The last few pages are also packed with photographs of the Romanovs (that show up on e-readers!) as well as some author notes on the history, some great links to check out more information and a very lengthy bibliography! All in all The Lost Crown serves your Romanov needs so much so that you won’t need to pick up another title for quite some time.

Recommended to: Anyone with even a SLIVER of interest for the last Imperial family of Russia – even if you haven’t really heard of them until now! I guarantee this book will make you think, laugh and cry and will become an instant favourite.

About Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller majored in linguistics, minored in Russian, and was the undisputed fingerspelling champ in her ASL classes. She can also read Braille -- very, VERY slowly. A few of the things she likes best: opera, sushi, daffodils, Walt Disney World, Eleanor Roosevelt, Chuao dark chocolate, I Love Lucy, Jeopardy, the Titanic, Bette Davis movies, and goofy socks.

5 Comments

  • Reply Somer June 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Wow, I guess I need to add this to my TBR pile! It sounds excellent. Thanks for the review!

    Somer @ A Bird’s Eye Review

  • Reply Shannon June 2, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I am so glad to hear that this book was everything you wanted and more. I am absolutely dying to read it, since I am both a huge historical fiction fan and have a fascination with the Romanov family. Thanks so much for the thoughtful and detailed review. I’m going to have to buy myself a copy ASAP.

    • Reply Brittany June 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      I’m so glad to hear it – you definitely won’t be disappointed if you’re a fan of historical fiction or Romanov Russia in general :D If you get a copy I’d love to see your review!

  • Reply Danya June 2, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I am definitely more interested in this one after your review! I know there have been a lot of Anastasia stories recently so I kind of passed this one by, but I like hearing that each of the sisters is really fleshed out and we get to hear all of their voices. Sounds like this one really does have a bit of a different take on it than previous YA versions!

    • Reply Brittany June 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      It is definitely so much different from the others – I’m so glad I didn’t make the mistake of passing this one!!! :D I hope you can get a copy and see for yourself!

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