Monday, October 13, 2014

The Diary Of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness To The Russian Revolution


This is a collection of diary entries, letters, and memoirs from and about Olga Romanov. Olga began a diary when she was ten years old in 1905. This was not uncommon for royal children. Her diaries end in 1917, when her father, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated his throne. Most of the entries and letters in this book were during the war between 1914-1917. Olga's diary entries from this period had never been translated into English before.

I liked being able to learn a little bit about what Olga was thinking and doing between 1914-1918. She worked as a nurse with her sister Tatiana and mother the Empress Alexandra in a hospital for wounded soldiers. Her journals show how close she was to all of her family, and refer to the many things they did together. There is also a constant concern for her brother and his health.

I was more interested in the letters Olga wrote or in the various bits from memoirs about her other people wrote that were included. Her diary is mostly in shorthand which makes the reading choppy, and not as easy to understand. I am not sure Olga ever intended her diary to be read by anyone else, or to use it other than to note what was happening in her daily life. This gives it a lack of depth for much of the book that I and perhaps others were hoping for when reading it. We are also missing many of her own thoughts on topics as she and other members of her family burned journals, and some entries when they were imprisoned.

I thought it was interesting while in captivity with a revolution overthrowing his reign, Tsar Nicholas II was reading The Scarlett Pimpernel. There were a couple of other books mentioned that he and others were reading, and I thought that was a fun detail. I did like that letters and memoirs from other people were included to fill out what happened to Olga when we no longer had her own words. It added a lot to this book.

If you are very interested in the Romanovs, I would recommend reading this book.

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