Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses by Helen Rappaport - review by Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith

The 23 Steps

Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses


Macmillan 492pp £20 order from our bookshop

We recognise them from the old family photographs: four pretty young ladies with luxurious hair, in pearls and white cambric dresses, their faces tinged with sadness, as if they already knew the gruesome fate awaiting them. They are the daughters of Russia’s last tsar, all brutally murdered in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg in the summer of 1918, along with their mother, father and brother, Alexei, as well as several servants.

But their lives have been, Helen Rappaport suggests with the subtitle to her new book, lost twice – first in the Ipatiev House and then a second time, slowly over the years, as they were lost to history. We recognise them, but we don’t know them. Who, exactly, were they?

Four Sisters sets out to reclaim the distinct stories of Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia – ‘OTMA’,

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