Where is the book on the narrative continuum?
Mixed (combines highly narrative moments with periods of fact-based prose)
What is the subject of the book?
The book focuses on the decline and fall of the Romanov family, both from the viewpoint of the Romanov family and their poverty-stricken people, all while somehow being able to make you connect with both vastly different sides.
What type of book is it?
This book is kind of a mixture of a biography of the Romanov family and a historical look at Russia's people during that time period. Maybe historical isn't the right word. It describes the experience of various civilians during the Romanov rule and its demise. They are typically from someone's point of view; like an individual, mini-biography of different Russian citizens.
What is the pacing of the book?
I would consider this book to have a measured pace. I like that there were breaks between where the book switched back and forth between the Romanov family and the people of Russia. I think that this made it easier to read and kept it from feeling slow.
Describe the characters of the book.
Of the Romanov family, the book focuses on Nicholas and Alexandra,the tsar and his wife. We see the circumstances that they went through, how that influenced their decisions, some glimpses of their personality through outside sources, and a bit into their emotions. There are also several short stories of different Russian peasants. Each of these tells a set of difficult circumstances that the peasant encountered. The author writes in a way that allows us to connect with all of the characters, whether royalty or peasant.
How does the story feel?
This book definitely has a dark and grim feel. The time period was not an easy one and the author makes sure that you understand that.
What is the focus of the story?
The focus is the experiences of both the royalty and the peasants leading up to and during the fall of the Romanov family.
Does the language matter?
I think that the language used makes it feel less like nonfiction. The author uses adjectives well. There is not a dense vocabulary (though it does include some Russian words). There are quotes from other people. This all makes it an easier nonfiction read.
Is the setting important and well-described?
The setting in a typical sense is not essential, other than it happened in Russia during the late 1800s and early 1900s. What is important here is the time period and what the people experience rather than it takes place in such-and-such city.
Are there details and, if so, what?
There are dates listed when important. Most of the details are narrative in nature. They describe the daily life or important events in people's lives. There are quotes throughout.
Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials?
There is a family tree and a map at the beginning of the book and pictures throughout.
Are they useful and clear?
Yes. I flipped back to re-examine the family tree and map multiple times. This helped me to keep track of the people and the geography that were being discussed. The pictures help to give you a feel of what the people were like and dealing with during this time period.
Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding, or experience?
I think that this book is meant to stress experience. We are looking at the collapse of the Romanov family. We are meant to see why it collapsed and experience the life that the different people involved experienced in order to help us understand why it happened.
Why would a reader enjoy this book?
- Experience driven
- Dark and grim feel
- Easy-to-read language