With the outbreak of World War I, the girls lives changed dramatically; from fancy dresses and balls to tending to wounded soldiers. Tatiana and Olga become nurses and alongside their mother they work in the local hospital treating injured soldiers from the front lines while Anastasia and Maria provide the soldiers with entertainment. As the war progresses and Russia being unsuccessful, the soldiers in the hospital begin to resent the girls and especially their German-born mother. The blame for Russia’s demise is placed squarely on the Tsar’s shoulders and in order to prevent Russia from falling into Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II abdicates. Unfortunately this solves nothing and the people continue to revolt and Russia falls into Revolution and the people who once loved the Tsar now despise him and his family. First the Tsar and his family are placed under house arrest in the Imperial Palace in Petrograd (formerly St. Petersburg), then they are moved to a mansion in rural Tobolsk and finally to a house in Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains, where the family’s story comes to its tragic and violent end.
I really enjoyed this story. I have loved Russian history for a long time and I admit that I have always wondered if one of the girls escaped and survived the assassination. Normally I am not a fan of authors who use multiple characters’ point of view to tell the story but in this case I believe that Sarah Miller did an excellent job of it. Each girl had her own unique voice and personality which really came out in the writing and added to the story without interrupting the flow. I also really appreciated the addition of the list of Russian-English words and the list of characters at the beginning of the novel. This novel was beautifully researched and written in great detail. The only criticism I have about this novel is that it was slow reading at times and there really was not any romance, only hints of it here and there. Overall I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves Russian history, especially those who like me, are fascinated with the Romanov family.