cover image The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia

Candace Fleming, read by Kimberly Farr. Random House Audio, , unabridged, eight CDs, 9.5 hrs., $50 ISBN 978-0-553-39528-0

This educational history geared to young adult readers explores the reversals of fortune that attended the Romanov family, from their reign as privileged rulers of 130 million Russians at the turn of the 20th century to their violent deaths at the hands of Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1918. Farr, who is primarily a stage actress, serves as the story’s primary narrator and also voices the diary entries and personal vignettes of various Romanov family members. She manages to create sympathy for the insulated family, especially the children, though her voice also expresses appropriate frustration at times when Czar Nicholas either turned a deaf ear to the desperation of his subjects or aggressively countered their complaints with military brutality. Less successful are the audio production’s various uncredited “Beyond the Palace Gates” performances, which feature stories from the lives of Russian peasants, WWI soldiers, or other observers. Several anonymous voices perform these parts, lending a disjointed feel to the narrative, and oddly reinforcing the class divisions inherent to the history itself. (July)