Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient), directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters)
Drawing from decades of work, travel, and research in Russia, Robert Alexander re-creates the tragic, perennially fascinating story of the final days of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov as seen through the eyes of their young kitchen boy, Leonka. Now an ancient Russian immigrant, Leonka claims to be the last living witness to the Romanovs’ brutal murders and sets down the dark secrets of his past with the imperial family. Does he hold the key to the many questions surrounding the family’s murder? Historically vivid and compelling, The Kitchen Boy is also a touching portrait of a loving family that was in many ways similar, yet so different, from any other.
"Ingenious...Keeps readers guessing through the final pages." —USA Today
The Romanovs are arguably second only to Jack the Ripper as objects of literary speculation. The story of their last days, their possible escape and the final resting place of the $500 million in jewels hidden in their clothing provides periodic grist for fiction writers. Alexander's first novel is based on "decades of painstaking research" and access to previously sealed Russian archives. He has produced a detailed version of the Romanovs' captivity, but the book fails to deliver much drama, despite the inherent mystery of the events. Narrated by 94-year-old Mikhail Semyanov, a Russian immigrant now living outside Chicago, the novel travels back to the bloody days of the Russian revolution, when the entire royal family is imprisoned in Siberia, in a building known as the House of Special Purpose. There, the seven Romanovs Tsar Nikolai, his wife Aleksandra, their hemophiliac son, Aleksei, and their four daughters are confined with a small staff of attendants, including Leonka, the kitchen boy of the title, who may or may not be narrator Mikhail. The captivity is seen from Leonka's point of view, and his focus on the gravely ill Aleksei prevents the development of a fully nuanced portrait of the rest of the family. Instead, they're depicted as passive victims of a tyranny even worse than the czarist state. Though impressively detailed, the novel is often as static as a museum exhibit, with notes and documents held up for display. Most of the suspense is held for the end, a denouement that reveals Mikhail's identity and Alexander's imaginative theory about the final dispensation of the Romanov jewels. FYI:Russophiles may want to access Alexander's bibliography, plus copies of the documents that he studied and historical photos, on his Web site:www.thekitchenboy.com.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Reading this for school and it is a very good read! I'm enjoying reading it at this very moment!
An absolute pleasure to read. Well written, fast paced, thoughtful---everything a book should be. I love this writer. I had previously read his work, "The Romanov Bride," which is also quite good. I just purchased "Rasputin's Daughter," because this book was so engaging. I can't wait to read that one. This author is clearly knowlegeable about the subject matter, as well as passionate about history. Very recommended!
I had to read this book for school and it turned out to be one of my favorite books.