(Cover picture courtesy of Beauty and the Armageddon.)
25 April 1914—Livadia
Papa took us on another long walk. Mama and Alexei joined us later for a picnic, although Mama was feeling weak and needed her wheelchair. An odd thing happened. My sisters and I were picking wildflowers in a meadow, and Alexei was lying on a blanket nearby staring up at the clear blue sky, when suddenly he said, “I wonder what’s going to happen to us?”
We asked him what he meant, and he couldn’t explain it—just that he had a strange feeling something was going to happen, and that next year we wouldn’t be here.
“Nonsense,” Mama said, but I wasn’t at all sure that he was speaking nonsense. Alexei has a way of sensing things.
There are very few books in The Royal Diaries series that I hate, but this is one of them. That is surprising because this one was written by Carolyn Meyer, a normally very good writer of young adult/tweens historical fiction.
What was my main reason for hating Anastasia:The Last Grand Duchess? Anastasia. Sure, I can tolerate some whining when a situation is truly bad, but oh my word does this girl ever whine! Life is horrible: her sisters are terrible, she never gets to do anything, her father is always gone, etc. I’m sure the real Grand Duchess Anastasia was spoiled to a certain extent, but the whining of Carolyn Meyer’s Anastasia could not compare to even the most spoiled princess. Yes, this is obviously aimed at a younger audience than myself, but even at that age I would have liked to reach into the book and slap Anastasia.
Part of my problem with The Last Grand Duchess is that Carolyn Meyer tried to cover too long a period in too short a book. She covers the time from 1914 until 1917, when the Romanovs are placed under house arrest in Siberia. That’s a lot of time to cover in less than 200 pages and it makes Anastasia’s diary really jumpy, meaning there are no entries for months at a time and Carolyn Meyer does a lot of telling rather than showing to help readers catch up.
However, my main gripe with the book was Anastasia herself and in diary format, if you hate the writer, you’re going to hate the rest of the book. Everything is told in the writer’s perspective, so if that writer is a whiny, angsty preteen, things are going to go very badly. And they certainly did in this book.
I give this book 1/5 stars.
*Only available as used.