Pages

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Kitchen Boy, by Robert Alexander

I have to write this book out of my system - or, at least, try to. Not because it was horrible. No, rather because it was spell-binding and captivating. Even still, I don't think writing about it is going to make the memory of it fade. It's a spectacular read and I adored it.

As regular readers know, I love picking up books at our local Goodwill. Normally though I stick to buying books I am familiar with or know that we'll like. However, I saw The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar and snatched it up, instantly tossing it into the cart. A safe bet? Most certainly! I think the Romanov family story is a fascinating (and, indeed, horrifying) one. So many mysteries surrounding the last Tsar of Russia and his family have flooded the media, movie, stories and imaginations of the general public. Due to the fact that two of the Tsar's children's bodies were not found with the rest of the family when they were discovered in 1979 by an amateur archaeologist, there is a great deal of speculation as to what might have become of the missing two. It wasn't until 1998 that the bodies found in 1979 were confirmed as being those of the Tsar, the Tsarista and three of their daughters and it was still later that the mystery of the final two children was laid to rest. But again, the fact that two of their children's bodies were missing sparked great speculation as to what happened to their fourth daughter, as well as their son and heir.

The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar is obviously a very well-researched story, using fiction to tie together pieces of fact. It focuses on the time period wherein the Romanov family were being held in the "House of Purpose" in Yekaterinburg in Siberia. The story revolves around the kitchen boy who the Tsarista mentioned in one of her final notes who had been removed from the house the evening of their murders. Author Robert Alexander, while reading about the Romanov family, honed in on the two lines about the kitchen boy and created this "What if?" story which might answer some of the mysteries about the family's last weeks, hours, execution and what might have happened to the heir and Grand Duchess whose bodies were not with the others.

This book could easily be spoiled so I'm going to tread lightly from here on out. Let's just say this book is RIVETING. (Yes, I have to use all caps.) I started it one afternoon during the boy's nap time and was ripping my way along in spare moments throughout the rest of the day. I was three chapters away from the end (at 10:30 p.m.) when Jonathan suggested it might be time to go to sleep. All I could do was will myself not to think about the story as I drifted off for the night. The next morning I made my breakfast and sat down with the book and finished it.

Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my!!! After completing the book, I spent a good bit of time browsing around online to learn more about the Tsar and his family.

Yes, The Kitchen Boy is fiction. But there is a great deal of fact included. Alexander included actual notes, correspondence, diary entries and plenty of known facts to tell his story and it is captivating.

This book is going to stick with me for awhile. I'm itching to write more about it but that would potentially spoil the read for you so I'm holding myself back. Let me leave you with this bit of encouragement:

"READ THE BOOK!"

It's a FANTASTIC piece of historical fiction, full of plot twists and turns and will keep you thoroughly engaged in the best of ways. If you know the situation of the Tsar, then you know there will be some blood and gore. But Alexandar handles it in a factual manner and it is not gratuitous at all. (Even though it may feel like it - it isn't. It's just the facts and they are horrifying enough.)

History is incredible sometimes. I love it when authors skillfully bring it back to life so that we can learn more about it. The more we learn about the past, the better we will approach the future.

Can't think of any other ways to goad you into reading this, so just hoping you'll give it a chance. I am so glad I did! I think this will rank as one of my top favorite reads of 2011. It was that powerful.


18 comments:

Live, Learn, Love said...

You make books that I wouldn't think to pick up sound so captivating!

Ruth said...

Never heard of this one - thanks for the review!

Sherry said...

OK, I'll read it! I love good historical fiction and nonfiction both. I'm sure I'll like this one as much as you did.

Shonya said...

ooooh, sounds fascinating!! I'm in the market for a book that just takes me away. "Riveting" sounds like just the adjective I'm looking for! :) Sure wish there were more hours in the day. . .

Alison said...

I read this book and loved it. I picked up the second book on a clearance rack but have yet to read it. I think he wrote two more books that follow this one. (Although, I think the KB would be hard to beat.) Are you going to read them?

Lisa writes... said...

Adding it to my wishlist now...

Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian said...

Just checked and found it on the shelves. What are you doing giving me more books I have to read when I already have such a long list? :)

Carrie said...

Bwwaaah haa haaa HAAA!!!

Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

I loved this book, and literally went on a Romanov reading binge (better than drugs, I suspect). I couldn't get enough of this story or family. And it's still hard for me to pass up anything Russian Revolutionary.

Carrie said...

Melissa - I'm Romanov-ing myself on Netflix right now. =D I don't know exactly what it is that makes their story so very compelling but there's definitely something to it!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Well, okay--I shall definitely look this one up! (Your review reminds me of mine of Unbroken. If your feelings for this book match mine for Unbroken, it must be good!)

I love 20th century European history and get a little nostalgic thinking about the time I spent teaching high school world history. I LOVED teaching the Russian Revolution.

This sounds like something I'd love.

bekahcubed said...

Your bold, italicized caps have convinced me. I'm adding it to my list. :-)

Amy said...

I have to agree with the first commenter when she said, "You make books that I wouldn't think to pick up sound so captivating!"
Looking it up on Amazon right now...

Susanne said...

I am so putting the book on hold at the library right now! :v)

Carrie said...

*Carrie rubs hands together in delight and glee thinking of how she has added this book to the stacks of a few*

BWAAA HAA HAA (I just get louder and more obnoxious over time.)

But I seriously think you will all LIKE it!

Marks of Faith said...

I actually got to see the large Russian 'Nicholas and Alexander Museum' when it came to the States...we happened to be in Mobile at the right time. IT WAS AMAZING!

Kristen said...

I just finished this yesterday (also read in 2 days - children had to entertain themselves while I turned pages)and am obsessed! I can't get the links to the author's website to work, have you been able to? I was curious to see what pictures he included and if the one on the cover is real? Thought I was years behind on discovering this one (picked it up by accident on the discount shelf), so it's fun to see you just read it too!

Melinda said...

I just finished reading this book last night. It has been on my TBR list for a while after you recommended it. I loved this book!

Top  blogs