Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rasputin's Daughter by Robert Alexander

With the same riveting historical narrative that made The Kitchen Boy a national bestseller, Robert Alexander returns to Russia for the harrowing tale of Rasputin's final days as told by his young and spirited daughter, Maria.

After the fury of the Russian Revolution has swept Nicholas and Alexandra from the throne of Imperial Russia, a special commission is set up to investigate the "dark forces" that caused the downfall of the House of Romanov. The focus, of course, turns to Grigori Rasputin, the notorious holy man and healer who was never far from the throne.

To discover the truth, the commission interrogates Maria Rasputin, the oldest of the Rasputin children, in the ransacked Winter Palace. There, she vividly recounts a politically tumultuous Russia where Rasputin's powerful influences over the Romanovs is unsettling to all levels of society, and the threats to his life are no secret. While vast conspiracies mount against her father, Maria must struggle with the discovery of her father's true nature - his unbridled carnal appetites, mysterious relationship with the Empress, rumours of involvement in secret religious cults - to save her father from his murderers. With clarity and courage, Maria shatters the myths of Rasputin's murder, revealing how she tried to save her father, who nearly killed Rasputin and, most importantly, the devious secrets his murderers still guard.

Using long lost files, Robert Alexander once again delivers an imaginative and compelling story: Rasputin's Daughter vividly brings to life one of history's most fascinating and legendary periods.

I've been sitting here for ages trying to think what to say about this book, which really surprises me for two reasons. Firstly, I don't normally have that trouble, and secondly, I really enjoyed this book so it shouldn't be so hard.

The story starts with Maria Rasputin being picked up and taken to face the commission that has been set up to investigate what caused the fall of the House of Romanov. The irony of the fact that one of her father's favourite authors is the man charged with recording the evidence of what happened to Rasputin is not lost on Maria, but once she has agreed to cooperate she starts her story a week before his death.

For Maria, the events of the last week before her father's death were very revealing. She began to understand his true nature - including the nature of his relationship with the royal family, some of the people that he associated with, and many of his own personal demons. In many ways, however, this book was more about Maria coming to see her family through adult eyes - understanding that her father was not perfect in many ways, and also understanding that the events that were taking place around her were out of her control. It was also about her coming to know herself and facing the consequences of her own decisions as she finds herself falling for the mysterious young man who has appeared and then disappeared from her life a couple of times.

As with The Kitchen Boy, Robert Alexander manages to effectively convey the confusion and fears of characters living in a turbulent time in Russian history. In some ways, this book felt a little more cohesive than The Kitchen Boy, maybe because it was at it's very core a simpler story. I certainly felt as though I was going on the roller coaster ride of emotions as faced by Maria - from the fear for her father's life, to the excitement of falling in live, to the confusion as she comes to realise some of the facts about her father, to her courage as she faced the reality of what had happened to her father, and to her, and a very uncertain future.

A very entertaining read about a very interesting period in time!



  1. I was actually more interested in this book than The Kitchen Boy. I plan to read it one of these days.

  2. It's worth reading for sure!

  3. I'm glad you liked this one- I have The Kitchen Boy on my shelf, but haven't read it yet (surprise, surprise). It is such a slim volume, though, that it's easy to pass over as I scan the shelves to pick what to read next! The author seems to do well with Russia :-)

  4. Hi Marg! It's Lee from Canada! Miss you in Oprah's bookclub!!

    I'm glad you posted about this book as I just finished The Kitchen Boy. I liked it but didn't love it. I'll read Rasputin's Daughter now that I've read your review:)

  5. Hey Lee!!

    I must come and visit! I've been meaning to!



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