The Passion of Marie Romanov by Laura Rose is written as a diary and has the intimacy of Ann Frank’s diary in the book Diary of Ann Frank. Both novels are about young women in dire circumstances during a time of war. Laura Rose used Marie’s actual diaries to give the reader insights into her character and life. The story opens at the point where Marie’s father, Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, is forced to abdicate.
The story moves between Marie’s current life of hardships and her memories of her former life of privilege as she recalls all the wonderful times her family had together.
In the beginning of the story Marie draws you into her world as she describes in detail the beauty of the palace and her love for her four siblings who are all seriously ill with measles. She is devoted to her mother as together they nurse her siblings. Marie and her mother wonder why the tsar hasn’t returned home or at least contacted his family. It’s winter and Marie lives in increasing fear of the large mobs that could attack the palace, of her siblings dying, and of her father being executed.
Then Marie falls ill with the measles and her own suffering seems to reflect the suffering of the Russian people. Millions were wounded, captured or died in WW 1 and citizens at home suffered from poverty and starvation.
The former Tsar is finally allowed to return to the palace where his family now is being held under house arrest. During their imprisonment, they are moved to Siberia and then to a house in the Ural Mountains.
By the spring of 1918 Russia is in the midst of a civil war. Imprisoned inside the house, Marie longs for a love like her parents have and for freedom for herself and her family.
Instead, in July of 1918 the family is brutally killed. The author chose to describe their murders and the disposals of the bodies in vivid detail through the eyewitness account of a young soldier. The descriptions are as chilling as a horror novel. The gruesome ending seemed unnecessary and some readers may choose to not read that section.
The book could have benefitted from more details about the history of the time to give the reader insights as to why Nicholas II had to abdicate and what led to the family being killed. Marie was nineteen by the end of the story and should have had some awareness of the plight of the Russian people.
Overall the book was worth reading to learn more about the fall of the Russian Empire in a very personal way.share this: