From Helen Rappaport, the New York Times bestselling author of The Romanov Sisters comes After the Romanovs, the story of the Russian aristocrats, artists, and intellectuals who sought freedom and refuge in the City of Light.
Paris has always been a city of cultural excellence, fine wine and food, and the latest fashions. But it has also been a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution, never more so than before and after the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Romanov dynasty. For years, Russian aristocrats had enjoyed all that Belle Époque Paris had to offer, spending lavishly when they visited. It was a place of artistic experimentation, such as Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. But the brutality of the Bolshevik takeover forced Russians of all types to flee their homeland, sometimes leaving with only the clothes on their backs.
Arriving in Paris, former princes could be seen driving taxicabs, while their wives who could sew worked for the fashion houses, their unique Russian style serving as inspiration for designers like Coco Chanel. Talented intellectuals, artists, poets, philosophers, and writers struggled in exile, eking out a living at menial jobs. Some, like Bunin, Chagall and Stravinsky, encountered great success in the same Paris that welcomed Americans like Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Political activists sought to overthrow the Bolshevik regime from afar, while double agents from both sides plotted espionage and assassination. Others became trapped in a cycle of poverty and their all-consuming homesickness for Russia, the homeland they had been forced to abandon.
This is their story.
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Average rating from 73 members
I love the Russian history and everything related to the Romanovs, no one does it better than Helen Rappaport and her latest book just add some more information on the after the Romanovs, like the title said... obviously! Ton of interesting facts, event, historical information and all of it very well written. If this subject interest you, than this is a book and an author that you must read!
After the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport is an excellent nonfiction that gives the reader a glimpse of the events, actions, and lives of the Russian elite, aristocrats, and royalty when they lived in and around Paris after during and after the Russian Revolution of 1917. I have read several books by Ms. Rappaport and I have enjoyed every one of them. She has always impressed me with her knowledge, research, and wonderful ability of creating an engaging and fascinating narrative out of history and present it in a way that keeps me coming back for more. This is no exception. I have always been fascinated by Russian History, especially the history of the Romanov dynasty and the Russian Revolution of 1917, so I obviously wanted to read this book. It was so interesting to see how such a vast array of men and women escape to a location that what once was a vacation destination and now was a city of exiles and escapees from Russia. Their lives dramatically changed in a lot of cases. Some seemed to blend in better than others. Some seemed to adapt better than their counterparts. Some positive endings with second chances at life, some not. Plenty of examples, and even a list and explanation of names/people are added to help the reader. To me, this was utterly fascinating. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in not just Russian history, but also WWI and WWII history as well. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and St. Martin’s Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
Publication date: March 8, 2022 Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own. This is a wonderful history book that reads easily -it is meticulously researched and written in a way that will appeal to all. Well, at least those Russian princes are not trying to get me to pay the processing fee for a part of their billions in the bank.....oooooh, snarky. #419 I will recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, book clubs, and people reading books in the park as we do … I have had some of my best conversations about books down by the Thames!
A very informative book about Russia after the Romanovs as well as a look at eastern Europe. This Russian history nerd enjoyed it.
After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Epoque Through Revolution and War By Helen Rappaport Ms. Rappaport’s newest book on the Romanov’s covers their adventures and experiences in Paris, both before and after the revolution. I found the chapters on what the exiles found when they arrived in Paris and how to coped with the drastic change in their circumstances to be both interesting and very sad. I’ve read & enjoyed several books by Helen Rappaport and while I read After the Romanovs from cover to cover, I don’t feel it’s one of her better books. Her research is meticulous as always, and the scope of the book is impressive but there was almost too much information. Each chapter is chock full of Former Playboy Princes and Exiled Russian Aristocrats. So many that I often lost track of just who was who, who did what and who was where. I would have enjoyed the book more had the book consisted for fewer characters with more in-depth information on those characters as opposed to brief entries on a vast cast of characters. Many thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read the ARC in return for an honest review
After the Romanovs by H. Rappaport, published by St. Martin's Press, is the story of Russian Exiles in Paris from the Bellé Époque Through Revolution and War. Bunin, Stravinsky, Chagall are russians who became very successful in Paris. A complex study of history, excellen written, researched. An intriguing, superb lesson in history set in the nineteen hundereds this book paints a picture I greatly enjoyed, 5 stars.
An interesting compilation of information about exiled Russians. It a bit of history I hadn't read about before.
“After the Romanoves” by Helen Rappaport is a well researched non-fiction book about Russian aristocrats, elite, and royalty living in Paris before, during, and after the Russian Revolution of 1917. I found this book to be FULL of footnotes, references, and interesting historical facts. If you are one who enjoys learning more about Russian history during this time period, you may want to add this book to your list of books to read. For me, however, there were a lot of characters to keep track and at times I had to consult the forward list of who was who. I think that if fewer people had been followed, I would have enjoyed the book a lot more - but this is coming from someone with a limited knowledge of the Russian royal extended family and how they coped during this time period. I would give this book a 3.5 star rating, as the research is excellent and I did learn new facts about this time period.
The tragedy of Tsar Nicholas and his family is well known. What happened to the members of the Romanov family, the aristocracy, the White Russian military and the "regular" folks that escaped from Russia as the communists took control and created the Soviet Union? This book explores the largest community of these exiles in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. Many barely escaped with their lives and the clothes on their backs and once settled had a very difficult time making a living. Ms. Rappaport has written several books about the Romanovs and Russia, and she does her research. I had a great deal of sympathy for these exiles, but after a while the melancholy of them really started to get on my nerves. "Just get on with life, and stop whinging about Mother Russia and the life you know you'll never have!" Especially the aristocrats, they lived lives of incredible luxury and privilege, and all that disappeared for many of them, and they had to earn an honest living doing very menial jobs (taxi driving, seamstress, waiters) and, like many immigrants, were taken advantage of and paid lower wages. Some, especially the artists just couldn't adapt. Many parallels to our current situation with immigrants (both legal and illegal). If you enjoy well researched history, especially Russian history you'll enjoy this book. I did. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
The non-fiction book, After the Romanovs is a compelling look at Russian history. History bluffs will enjoy this book.
My knowledge of this time period was limited to the movies I had seen. The author did extensive research and the information was overwhelming. The elite society and artists loved visiting Paris prior to the Revolution. When the Romanov’s became targets of the Bolshevik Revolution, about 50,000 Russians mostly fled to Paris with only the clothes on their back. They were not a skilled laborer's and had trouble finding work to support themselves. They chose not to assimilate as they planned to return to Russian when it was safe. This book tells some of their stories.
Helen Rappaport’s “After the Romanovs” is a well-researched, well-written history of the relationship between all manner of Russian citizens and the city of Paris during the period from the late 19th century through the Second World War. It places special emphasis on the period following the Russian Revolution and the so-called “White Russians” who fled Lenin and the Bolsheviks for new but often difficult lives in and around Paris. The history begins with the pre-WWI “Belle Epoch,” when Paris was a playground for Russian nobility and a performance venue for soon-to-be world-renowned Russian artists such as Nijinsky, Stravinsky, and the Ballet Russes. It then turns to the period following the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Czar when many from that very same nobility—now stripped of much or all of their wealth—emigrated to Paris. Rappaport focuses not only on that nobility, but also on the thousands of middle- and upper-middle-class Russians—doctors, lawyers, educators, soldiers, government workers, etc.— forced to trade their white-collar professions for blue-collar jobs as factory workers, seamstresses, and taxi drivers. The work is filled with anecdotal tales and readers will learn about the post-revolution lives led by not only Czar Nicholas II’s extended family of grand dukes, duchesses, and courtiers, but also by writers, artists, and politicians such as Alexander Kerensky, Marc Chagall, Ivan Bunin, Feodor Chaliapin, and Vladimir Nabokov. Of course, politics was a huge part of the story of the Russian diaspora and Rappaport covers this adeptly, describing White Russian plans to restore the monarchy as well as Soviet counterespionage to learn those plans and lure various emigres back to Russia to face show trials and execution. I did find some of the historical, literary, and artistic figures described somewhat obscure. Then again, my knowledge of Russian art and literature is far from comprehensive. What was not obscure was Rappaport’s central message: how very difficult it is to be cut off from one’s country. That message, repeated many times and in many ways, gives “After The Romanovs” a poignancy that far outweighs any occasional obscurity. All in all, a very interesting read well worth the time.
A very interesting read! The author provides a detailed look into the lives of members of the Russian aristocracy who lived in or near Paris just before, during and after the Russian Revolution of 1917. I have always been intrigued by the Romanovs, so I definitely enjoyed this. The book reads smoothly and easily, is very well written, and seems thoroughly and impeccably researched. All in all, I found this to be very engaging, and I look forward to reading more from Ms. Rappaport!
I was pleased to have an opportunity to review this book as an eARC from St. Martin's Press as it fit in perfectly with my Nonfiction November plans, and afforded me a reason to read another history book this month. This book focuses on the Russian emigres who escaped to Paris for (mostly) political reasons after the assassination of Czar Nicholas and his family. These emigres were primarily members of the upper class, many of whom were related in some way to the Romanov family, which was an extensive one with many branches, and the members of the "artistic" class, including writers, painters, and other intellectuals who were attempting to escape the Bolshevik revolution and the class upheaval brought on by that takeover of the government. Obviously there were other Russians who wanted to leave the country during this period, but escaping to live in Paris took funds and connections, and I am sure there are untold stories of Russians who had neither and were unable to escape the new regime and/or whose stories have not been recorded. Rappaport has done extensive research into the period and it shows in the many details she includes in this book. (Particularly impressive that she was able to write this in COVID 2020 lockdown, relying on her stored records, notes and the assistance of researchers in the UK and France who helped her online since she was not able to complete the travel she had planned before the pandemic.) It is striking how much Parisian life influenced the emigres and how much the Russian culture influenced Parsian thought, art, dance and fashion. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on the Russe Ballet, or the Russian ballet, during its heydey, with mentions of Stravinsky and Nijinsky, and the influence both the composer and the dancer had on modern ballet as we know it today. Also of importance were the relationships that evolved between artists, particularly writers, in the cosmopolitan city that Paris was at the time, including the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway, as well as Russian and French writers who moved in their literary circles. Of personal interest to me was the discussion on the influence of Russian culture on Coco Chanel and her fashion house. From the design of her famous Chanel No. 5 perfume bottle to her relationship with female members of the Russian nobility who worked in the fashion houses as models, or as pieceworkers providing embroidery for various Chanel design collections, the contribution of Russian culture and style to Chanel's fashion sense was extensive. It is of note to me as well that it appears the Russian women were able to assimilate themselves into the Parisian culture, even if they longed for home, by accepting their reduced circumstances and being willing (and able) to pick up a trade like embroidery or piecework, to make ends meet. This was not often the case with the male members of the aristocracy, who attempted to live at their previously accepted standard of extravagant living without the money to do so, and often wound up adrift and penniless once their smuggled funds ran out. I enjoyed this extensively researched, comprehensive book on this history of the intertwined fates of the Russian emigres and Paris and its culture in the early 20th century. Fans of Russian or French history in the years between the World Wars will enjoy this one, and particularly those interested in social history as it is influenced by the events of political upheaval and major societal changes in those years.
304 pages 4 stars This is the story of the several Russian aristocrats and Russian royalty that managed to escape from the country when the Bolshevik purges began in 1917 or so. Many, many of the nobles were executed, but some were fortunate enough to escape. Most went to Paris. Paris was the city they all loved. While some struggled to find work, an alien concept to them, some didn’t have a clue. All of their belongings, including the fabulous jewelry and artwork had been confiscated by the authorities. The book focuses on several individuals and what they made of, or did not make of, themselves. The stories are very sad for the most part, but some of them, mostly the women, rose above it all and make a new life for themselves. This is an excellently written and well researched book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I have other Helen Rappaport books. I want to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for forwarding to me a copy of this interesting book for me to read, enjoy and review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.
Great historical nonfiction read! Highly recommend it to fans of the genre and those looking to expand their reading circle. Purchasing for library.
I have just finished reading After the Romanovs by Author Helen Rappaport. I went into this book not quite knowing what to expect, as I really know very little about the Romanovs, and especially their presence in Paris. This was an exceptionally well researched and detailed book with so much history and information. Helen Rappaport is an expert in this field. I found the book to be very interesting and engaging. I also found it a little exhausting as it progressed with so many names, dates, and facts. However, I will search out more work from the author, and also recommend it to any reader with an interest in history, and the era. Thank You to Netgalley, Author Helen Rappaport, and St. Martin's Press for my advanced copy to read and review. #AfterTheRomanovs #NetGalley [NetGalley URL]
Kindle Copy for Review from Net Galley and St. Martin's Press. I received a free, advance copy of this book and this is my unbiased and voluntary review. It is an intriguing look at the Romanovs’ sisters after their exile from Russia to Paris. Their struggles as the start fresh in a world they did not exist for them before. A charming read for history bluffs.
This is a really good addition to the canon of information regarding the Romanv's (Tsar Nicholas II) and their varied extended family who emigrated to Paris during & after the Russian Revolution. I give great credit to the author for making the various family members and their relationship to the Tsar understand-able. SO many Russioan names and characters and yet it rarely becomes confusing! The Russian diaspora in France (esp. Paris) before during & after the revolution is explored with sensitivity and the cultural shifts from pre-revolution to post revolution are well researched. I really enjoyed this fascinating account of a period of time that is not often brought out in the history books. Highly recommended for fans of Russian revolutionary history.
After reading a few fiction books on Russian royalty, it is quick a refresher to read a nonfiction on what happened to many whom sought refuge in Paris. Eye-opening with so many historical accounts, After the Romanovs is a definite read for history lover. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the pleasure of reading After the Romanovs.
I've read quite a Few of Rappaport's books on the Romanovs, and have always enjoyed her writing style. This book is no different, though the subject and scope are. Spanning the decades between the Russian revolution and WWII, this book gives readers a glimpse of the lives of Russians living in Paris. Many of these people were forced out or left during the revolution, and despite a love of their homeland, never returned to Russia. The people Rappaport focuses on is primarily the former aristocracy and writers, as they left the most records behind. I never knew much about this period, the only familiarity I had with it was the animated Anastasia movie (and surprise, it wasn't accurate), so most everything was new to me. I liked hearing more about the extended Romanov family members that managed to make it out of Russia, and how others outside the family were affected by the revolution and their exile from home. While this book covers a lot of ground, the focus is on a handful of big names, making it easy to follow.
3.5 I enjoy studying about the British and Russian monarchies. I've read and own quite a few books about the Romanovs. Helen Rappaport is very good at this. So many of the Romanov exiles were left adrift after the first world war. Rappaport delves into their journey here and she is quite good. My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book.
"After the Romanovs" opens in a relatively light fashion as wealthy Russians, among them Romanovs, enjoy vacations and visits to France. Paris is a playground for them. Artists of all kinds flock there to rub shoulders with the elite of the world. Stars like Nijinsky shine. Intellectuals sought both rest and creativity, some even rubbing shoulders with a Russian visitor named Lenin. Yes, that Lenin. Needless to say, the tone of the book switches gears quickly after the Russian Revolution and assassination of the Tsar and his family. The Romanovs were now targets for the new regime. Many of those who once sought amusement or simply enjoyed the thriving creativity to be found in Paris found themselves fleeing to Paris once again, this time as refugees. Now largely penniless and unable to find work, this is their story. Even the mysterious Anastasia makes an appearance in the book. Watching this history unfold was at once both saddening and fascinating. The emotions of those in exile swung wildly from optimistic and hopeful for a return to Russia to lost and simply desperate to survive. Few had any practical skills and they were cut off from the past fortunes. The manner in which the French accepted them, of course, also varied. The Jazz Age occurred post revolution but the emigres, many of whom had never worked a day in their lives, were usually too busy trying just to stay alive with a roof over their heads and something to eat and wear, to be caught up in it. Interestingly enough, it was some of the female emigres who perhaps came closest, particularly those who found employment with Chanel or in the garment industry. Former duchesses found themselves doing piecework and embroidering to support their families. You might find yourself being seated at a ritzy restaurant by a former duke or driven about town by a taxi driver with royal connections. Rappaport writes at one point that the unifying thread between them all seemed to be a "solidarity in poverty". Starvation and suicide were common. Even though I found it a bit difficult to keep the names straight in my head -- I found myself scrolling back-and-forth frequently -- I found the book fascinating. The author has done extensive research and the amount of information she shares is almost staggering. You'll also see the birth of the current communist society which, even then, especially after Stalin's ascent, used spies and kidnapping to its benefit both against its own countrymen and the Russian emigres. There's much to take in here and kudos to author Rappaport for sharing her research with us in such a readable fashion. Thanks to #NetGallery and #StMartinsPress for the ARC. Even as a former history major and teacher, I came away with not just a more thorough knowledge of the post Russian Revolution emigres but history in general.
Paris was a playground for the Russian nobles before the Revolution, a place to spend lavishly and love freely. After the slaughter of the Tsar’s family and friends, it became expedient for these nobles to run, carrying what valuables they could manage. And so the community grew, never feeling welcome. Some advanced in the arts and fashion, but many remained taxi drivers, mechanics and manual laborers. Reduced to menial jobs, they bonded together to feel a semblance of home and culture. Dreaming of a return to old Russia, they named a successor to the throne, debated the validity of “Princess Anastasia,” survived the French President’s assassination by an emigre, and met in Church to keep their faith alive. Distrust, jealousy and suspicion among the community was constant. Economic recession added to the melancholy; suicide became a solution. Some returned to their homeland in time for another world war. Helen Rappaport provides a tremendous amount of research. Reading of stars of the ballet, mingling with fashion designers and literary greats is fascinating, a who’s who of Russian notables. I learned much about this period. The amount of information is challenging, but in the end worth the effort.
Dr. Helen Rappaport is a well known author of historical nonfiction. She tells the tale of the Romanovs and those in their circle with a deft writing style. She weaves the stories of the Belle Epoque with the harsh reality of those who escaped persecution with little to nothing. Some books of this genre are a mere recitation of facts, but not so with After the Romanovs. The reader is captured with Rappaport's skill in crafting an enticing narrative.
A fabulous but heartbreaking history of displaced peoples from Russia mostly to Paris but also Berlin and then to the United States during WWII. Imagine that the world is your oyster, that you have unbelievable power and prestige and then the next day that your whole world comes crashing down and you find that your assets are gone, and you must drive a taxi or haul coal just to survive and eat. That you must travel almost 3,000 km to a foreign land that while opening its doors to you and your people - speaks a foreign language and has completely different customs and laws. Eventually, even this country turns against you and your people because you have taken over so many jobs, at below-market wages, that locally born citizens find it challenging to find employment. Through the hardship, sorrows, and longing for your homeland more than a few happy stories can be found. Russian women had a large impact on the Paris fashion scene with their intricate and delicate sewing and fashion designs. This book was so very well written it is sure to keep your interest. Chock full of references and research that could keep you reading about the impact of Russians in France for years if you were so inclined. I highly recommend that you pick this book up and learn more about these displaced people - it will open your eyes, mind, and should open your heart by putting modern-day movements of those economically and socially displaced from their homes in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa towards Europe and the West; and the impact of people from Central and South America towards America and Canada. Thank you to the author Helen Rappaport, the publisher St. Martin's Press; and to Net Galley for the advance copy in return for my honest opinion. I have not received any compensation nor interference in the posting of my review which remains my truthful thoughts on this book.
After the Romanovs is a fascinating look into the flight of "White Russians" (those of the privileged class and intelligentsia) into different parts of Europe, especially Paris. The author's extensive research is mind-boggling, because she covers the lives of both the aristocrats as well as poets and artists. Even though was a non-fiction, informative historical piece of work, it was also entertaining. I kept Googling the different characters to learn more about them. It was a challenge keeping up with all those Russian names though! A fantastic read for anyone interested in Russian history.
Coming into this with limited knowledge of Russian-Franco ties during the period, I feel like I learned a lot! While France wasn't home to Russian exiles, it was familiar and the author does a good job of showing that. I loved how this work painted a picture of a truly multinational city.
I have always been fascinated by the Romanovs; the entire dynasty. So when I was given the chance to read this book, I grabbed it. It isn’t about JUST the Romanov family, it’s about the history of Russians living in Paris starting in the late 1800’s. At first, just the very wealthy, royalty and nobility in the main, were able to spend vacations or “The Season” in Paris. Later, around 1900 came the immigrants who voluntarily or involuntarily fled to Paris. This included not just political exiles but poets, writers, artists, ballet dancers and others. This included religious and economic exiles such as members of the Ashkenazi Jewish community from the area of eastern Russia where they were allowed to live, known as “The Pale.” The author discusses groups by chapters but also interconnects the various groups as she goes deeper into the narrative. The first chapter is about Russian nobility flocking to Paris to indulge their desire for luxury, starting in the 1800s. Their spending was on par with that of current Russian oligarchs. Author Helen Rappaport introduces dancers and others associated with them such as Diaghilev and Stravinsky. Diaghilev was the founder of the famous Ballets Russe dance troupe. Stravinsky became world famous while working with the Ballets Russe in Paris prior to WWI. The author includes a lot of detail about the premieres of the Stravinsky ballets in Paris: “The Firebird,” “The Rite of Spring,” and “Parade.” The premieres were rocky, especially that for “The Rite of Spring,” but they made Stravinsky legendary. The discussion really hits its stride when talking about the very poor immigrants that came to Paris, most of whom were starving and living in appalling conditions. This group cut across classifications but included artists, writers, poets, and others. The famous painter Marc Chagall, born into a Lithuanian Jewish Hasidic family in the Russian Empire, lived in Paris for a time until WWI, when he returned home to marry. He left Russia again for Paris in 1923. There is detail on the exertions of the extended Romanov family to flee Russia, with many failures ending in their murders. At a certain point, Lenin must’ve known his enemy was broken, but instead he went for revenge. Revenge against anyone carrying the DNA of the Romanovs. Why? I don’t think the poverty of the peasant and working classes is a good answer for this. The book goes on to detail how Russians as a group lived as emigres in Paris. How did they? Rather poorly, although the French Government graciously did help some. The rest really scratched to pay their way as their valuables did not command even a fraction of pre-WWI sales prices. Grand Duke Alexander’s (“Sandro”) numismatic collection sold for only 5% of its pre-war value, and a few belongings were all that most of the refugees could smuggle out. On the other hand, as an example of a more successful outcome, the story of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovna and his sister Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna is followed. Dmitri had an affair with Coco Chanel which led to Maria being employed as a seamstress and embroiderer in Chanel’s workshop. That was great for Maria’s survival but she soon discovered that the French workers became jealous and cold toward her, afraid that other Russians would take their jobs. This was a common experience for Russian emigres. Maria worked 12-14 hours per day producing embroidered sweaters, blouses, and tunics for Chanel’s 1922 collection. Dmitri went on to become a spokesman for champagne when Chanel began a long-term relationship with the Duke of Westminster. Neither did particularly well for themselves but managed better than most Russians. The story of Dmitri and Maria is illustrative of many of this volume’s stories of Russian refugees; the men were handsome but lost in their tragedy, the women became ingenious and successful entrepreneurs, at least for a time. Between 1922 and 1935, 27 fashion houses were thus established by Russian immigrants. But fashion wasn’t the only area that the Russians conquered. Many of the men, particularly those out of the military, drove cabs, acted as doormen, and waiters. They were noted and sought out for their manners and good behavior. And the stories of struggle, tragedy, and survival after great tragedy continue from there. This is really a well-written book that clearly took a lot of time to research. There is tremendous detail about how Russian immigrants in general fared, as well as about the jobs that they were allowed to perform. France was well-regulated and training and licensure were expensive; immigrants could not do everything. This was probably the first great wave of refugees in Europe in the 20th Century. It’s interesting to compare the Russian immigrant crisis with more recent immigrant crises. I have to point out a sentence at about 40% of the galley, that a man named Rubakhan “…still kept the Russian festivals and an icon burning in the corner….” I don’t think so. I’m sure he had candles burning in front of the icon. This book explores artists known and unknown to me. Many are grand names that I have heard or seen referenced: Pavlova, Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Chagall, Nabokov. Finally I understand a little bit more about what drove their art and the general Russian melancholia of the early 20th Century. Suicide, alcoholism, and drug dependency were rife amongst the destitute population. I can understand why. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press, author Helen Rappaport, and NetGalley for allowing me to read the eGalley of this book prior to publication. I have received nothing for my review which contains only my own, original opinions. I am posting this review to NetGalley, Goodreads, and my Twitter and Facebook accounts at this time. Upon publication of the book, I will also post to Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
What a fascinating story! The contrast between the pre-Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary experience of Russians in Paris was illuminating and stunning in its stark contrasts. I found the individual stories as fascinating as the overarching descriptions of the period and the political upheaval that ensued. It was a very interesting book about a very interesting time and the evolution of contemporary Russia is, I think, definitely traceable to some of the attitudes and experiences going back to the Revolution...
After the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport is a great book, very informative and heart breaking especially what happened.
I want to thank Netgalley and the author for gifting me the ebook. I love soaking up anything and everything that involves history. I highly recommend this book.
historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, historical-setting, history-and-culture, nonfiction***** Russians in Paris before the Bolsheviks is a detailed account of the marvelous (from Nijinsky! the ballet! the music! to Singer of sewing machines), the overindulgent (excessive spending in food/jewelry/debauchery by the Russian aristocrats and the benefits to Paris. Then the Great War followed by Revolution and elimination of the tsar and immediate family forcing the rest into exile. Once again, the aristocracy returned to Paris, this time as poor exiles. Some were able to smuggle valuables with them to England, Finland, Japan, and the US, but they were a minority and the overarching hope of all was the great homesickness for Mother Russia. The info is comprehensive, but the writing is more like a Publish or Perish. I requested and received a free ebook copy from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
In the Omar Sharif Dr. Zhivago, there is a scene where the doctor and his family are camped on railroad tracks waiting for a rumoured train that will take them from the horror show formerly known as Moscow. The good doctor and his good family have suffered the ire of the Bolsheviks and must flee. Home, friends, neighborhoods, schools, their entire life, gone; the only thing left is themselves. It is a frightening scene. It is a heartbreaking one, too. And it is an encapsulation of this entire book: what happens to people when the new Soviet regime takes over? Everything everyone believed and counted on is now regarded as crime, so, your choices are: denounce everything you used to believe in, join the new regime, fight the new regime, or flee. Helen Rappaport focuses on those who fled to Paris, already a favored Russian destination long before Lenin raised his self-righteous head. She does an excellent job setting the stage by describing the Belle Epoque, Russian style, and, after reading about some of the Russian antics, you can well understand the storming of Winter Palaces. Some of those Russian princes deserved a date with the guillotine. But not all of them. Not everyone. Her description of the Bolshevik takeover and what they did to the former ruling class and their supporters is Zhivago at the train tracks. But that’s nothing compared to the exile across Russia in unseaworthy ships and frozen wastelands and refugee status in Constantinople…oh good Lord. It’s an untold story made starkly clear, and it is unpleasant, to understate things. This book suffers from the same problem of any Russian book- more characters than you can safely carry around in a backpack and it is easy to lose track of who is who and where they are, especially if you, like me, are not that familiar with Russian names or relationships. A list of those would be nice. And where’s Trotsky? Once everybody has found their way to Paris, life among the exiles becomes an ‘Oh well!” kind of existence. Maybe that’s the Russian psyche, I don’t know, but my sympathies lie with the hapless White Russian generals who still hold that forlorn hope of winning it all back. They come across as somewhat clown-like and I suppose that’s true; they still believed in a chivalry and class structure that they helped destroy during WW1. They simply don’t understand how ruthless a Bolshevik can be, and that makes them vulnerable. Those with a schadenfreude bent will take some pleasure at the exiles’ sufferings. After all, what an oppressive exploitive society that richly deserved everything that happened to it. But no one should be forced onto winter laden train tracks in fear of their lives. No one.
After the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport was a compelling read and I enjoyed every page. I have always been fascinated with the Romanov dynasty and the Russian Revolution, but I didn't know that many Russian exiles who moved to Paris during and after the Revolution. Rappaport pulled back the curtain on a place and time in history that greatly impacted WWI and WW@ and still resonates today. Highly recommend!!
I received this book as an ARC and this is my review. This book chronicles the difficult years following the fall of the Tsar and the Romanov dynasty in Russia. It is filled with meticulously researched information and biographic data about well- and little-known Russian refugees who left their country to survive the Revolution. I totally recommend this story to readers who are curious about the plight of these historical figures and their contribution to world history.
Helen Rappaport’s latest book is a thought-provoking and compelling story about Russian emigrants before and after the Russian Revolution. During the early years of the 20th century in Paris, the Russian aristocracy enjoyed opulent lifestyles with connections to the musical and visual arts. The high society of Russia was influenced by the French language and fashion, while the wealthy Parisians were affected by Russian culture, especially in the arts of literature, ballet, music and opera. After the Bolsheviks gained power, there were few surviving members of the Romanov family. Some were able to escape with thousands of other Russians to Greece and France. Their lives went from riches to rags within a decade. The list of emigrants at the beginning of the book was quite helpful. Some lived long and meaningful lives, while others never adjusted to their new surroundings. Thank you to Net Galley for providing this book.
What happened to the Russian Aristocracy after the Revolution? Where did they go to escape persecution? Why did the Tzars prefer to flee to Paris? In “After the Romanovs”, Helen Rappaport answers these questions and enlightens the reader to the fate of Russian’s Royalty. I consider her the upmost authority on Russian history! If Russian Aristocracy is your subject, then I highly recommend this latest book by Helen Rappaport to include in your personal library.
This well done nonfiction tells the story of Russians in Paris. I appreciated that Rappaport gives us the history leading up to the Revolution. She starts at the turn of the century, contrasting the haves and the have nots of the Russians. The money spent by the aristocracy boggled my mind and gave me a much better understanding of what led to the revolution. The have nots included mostly artists (like Chagall), writers and musicians. Once the Revolution took place, I was shocked at the number of emigres that made it out of Russia and to Europe. I had to give credit to these aristocrats, who were forced to take on menial work. As was said at the time “the men drive taxis and the women sew for a living.” I had wondered why France was so willing to take on so many emigres. The answer lies in the loss of lives during WWI and the need for labor. The book is very detailed, giving many specific examples of what happened to individual aristocrats. There’s a very small tidbit about George Orwell’s friendship with an emigre working as a waiter. I couldn’t help but wonder if this didn’t play into his anti-communist works. As would be expected, it’s a sad book. Few succeeded, there were a meaningful number of suicides. The depression and then WWII added to their troubles. And in the end, the younger generation assimilated into French culture. My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.
This was an interesting read. Chronological record of the Romanov which I am interested in, so this book was very enlightening to me. I truly enjoyed it and learned so much!
I enjoyed this book. It was very interesting and informative. If I had to critique one thing I'd say the chapters are too long. They'd be fine if there were subsections but a 30 minute chapter is long for any nonfiction book. I did learn a lot too.
Interesting (unknown to me) Russian history and very well researched. It was difficult in an e book to go back and forth remembering the characters. I would definitely get this in a hard copy.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for a preview copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. There was a lot of interesting information and history to be gleaned. There was history of the opulence and cruelty in the reign of the Romanovs; there was history of the artistic communities in Paris; there was history of the American ex-pats in Paris; there was history of the economic and political situation in Europe. Yes, this book covered a lot and it also included specifics for various Russian emigres: what they ate, where they lived, potty arrangements, debauchery and sexual liaisons. It covered a LOT. Readers wishing to know more about the above will find a wealth of information in this book.
An interesting look at what became of the Russian aristocrats during the Bolshevik revolution. Helen Rappaport has a way of writing non-fiction that really draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. History buffs rejoice, you will love this one! A big thank you to St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC.
I never really considered myself interested in Russian history in general but the title was intriguing and I received this as an ARC. Totally worth it. While dense with information, the author manages to flow naturally between topics and figures. (Each chapter is dedicated to one subject, like authors or artists and various renowned figures are discussed within each). It would have been easy to stick with the behaviors or opinions of one or two individuals at a time and the author is careful to stick with the subjects rather than overload the reader with trivia. I rate this 5 stars for being both incredibly informative while being readable to a previously uninterested layperson. Given the meticulous bibliography and references, I am hardly the target audience and I genuinely enjoyed the book.
Even before WWI and the Russian Revolution, aristocrats, dancers, musicians and artists found their way to Paris from the Russian empire. There were several grand dukes, uncles to Nicholas II, some notorious for misbehavior, but most all of them supportive of the arts. Ballet Russes with Sergey Diaghilev changed ballet with his association with now well- known musicians and artists, especially Vaslav Nijinsky, Igor Stravinsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Montparnasse became the heart of bohemian society, many Jewish peoples escaped from pogroms and settled in Marais and Paris became full of political rival groups. Many Russians returned to Russia for WW I, then fled in 1917-18 when the Bolsheviks prevailed. Some fled with jewelry and other valuables, but many arrived with nothing. Rappaport focuses on those who faced their new reality with hope and actually working like Grand Duchess Maria Pavlova, who used her embroidery and sewing skills to survive. She stuck to her own narrow class of aristocratic exiles but did help them survive with needlework jobs when she started working for Chanel, Between the years 1922-35, twenty-seven fashion houses were established in Paris by Russian emigres. Many males found work as taxi drivers or at Renault car factories. Rappaport also tells the stories of many writers and other emigres who just could not let go of the past and slowly faded away or committed suicide and there were divisions when one of the Grand Dukes claimed to be the new czar. At first France welcomed the emigres because they had lost so many men during the war and there were jobs, but then the Depression hit, and emigres of any nationality were not wanted. Rappaport says there are not many sources for information for the truly poor emigres who fled the Bolsheviks but there were many. However, one former aristocrat who particularly stands out is Elizaveta Pilenko who opened a House of Hospitality that was like a homeless shelter and soup kitchen for any in need of help and became known as Mother Mary Skobtsova. When France was invaded by the Nazis, she was sent to a prison camp and murdered. I have enjoyed other books by Ms. Rappaport and found this one easy to read and informative. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
After the Romanvs by Helen Rappaport is a thoroughly detailed book well written book on the after lives of the fallen russian families. The rich mainly that were able to escape the downfall etc. The intricate plots woven around emigre with footnotes to back up and help the reader to understand in detail the relationship. A lot of the stories yank at your emotions due to how sad and tragically well known these stories are. It feels as if so many questions are answered including movements and plots. Great chance for an exciting read! Don't forget March 08 2022! I was given this ARC by net galley in exchange for an Honest review. Amazing book.
I really enjoyed this book by Helen Rappaport. It was very well done and interesting. Would definitely recommend this to anyone.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin's Press for a advanced copy of this European history book. Paris was not only the City of Lights, but to the Russian counts and countesses before the revolution in their motherland that would cost the world so much, Paris was their playground. Obscene amounts of money would be spent, some on art, but mostly on baubles, bangles and fashionable gowns, until the reckoning of the tsar's overthrow made their playground their refuge. Helen Rappaport in her book After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War describes this time from the glittering beginnings to the darkness that came as World War II and more revolutions scattered these exiles further. The book is highly researched, and extremely well written, with numerous sourcing and footnotes. There are a lot of people and titles and family, and family ties to keep track of and Ms. Rappaport does a very good job of keeping them clear and easy to follow in the narrative. Ms. Rappaport delves into politics, art, science and all sorts of intriguing facts and discourses about the exile community in Europe, things that I was unaware of. Some of the stories are happy, most seem sad, and as Ms. Rappaport states, finding stories for the unsuccessful was a tad more difficult, history is never really written by the losers or the disenfranchised, those that she writes about are very tragic. Another part I found interesting was the need for France to open its borders, from losses sustained in the World War. And how willing they were to have emigres, until the Depression made that difficult and immigration was reduced to practically nothing. A very diverse history about a tumultuous time in Europe between the wars, a book that will appeal to many different readers.
A compelling and intriguing look at the lives of the Russian aristocrats dispersed after the fall of the czar and the collapse of the country. AFTER THE ROMANOVS delivers a glittering and richly researched portrait of life among the dispossessed--and a portrait, too, of Paris and its denizens. Highly recommended.
Fascinating look at the Russian royal family, and specifically, the extended family members who survived the Russian revolution. Unlike most books I have read about the Romanovs and others, all of the information in this book was new to me... and it was fascinating. Thank you so much to St Martins Press for this book! I really enjoyed it!
Extensively researched and intelligently written, I learned quite a lot from this book, which is one reason I go into these sorts. It wasn't dry and tended to be quite easy to read for the most part - I say 'for the most part', because the translations were inconsistent and there were French and Russian words peppered throughout, causing me to pause reading to then look up what all of these meant. I am not too sure on the reasoning behind translating some things over others and it was a minor inconvenience, however, I enjoyed the read enough to see it through. Depending on my mood, I either appreciated the abundance of quotes provided or found some to be like those times you had to write a paper that had a word/page count, but you were struggling to meet said requirement and defaulted to adding as many source quotes as possible. Again, that shouldn't deter you from reading this if you're a history buff or at all interested in the Romanovs and their circles of Russian elites, the Russian revolution, or emigration of one exiled culture and peoples to another country. It just, I don't know, made the flow funky or something. I also had a personal resonation at one point, as I hadn't realized/put two and two together that the exodus of Russians occurred when my own ancestors from Armenia were escaping their country. When Rapport mentioned Russians boarding vessels that also contained fleeing Armenians, it was alarming to realizing just how much discord and turmoil was happening in that part of the world, and the strains undertaken by neighboring countries as they took in refugees, willingly or not.
After the Romanovs is a bit of a misnomer as the title of this book, as Rappaport begins covering Russia and its elites several decades prior to the execution of the Tsar and his family and the rise of the Bolsheviks and continues through mainly to the beginning of World War II. This does help establish the stark contrast though, between the lives members of the upper class were able to live in Paris prior to either fleeing or being forcibly removed from Russia. The “before” period is without a doubt the story of decadence – jewelry, high fashion, the upper crust of society in music and entertainment. And oh, how the mighty have fallen several decades later. With no funds to live off of, no practical skills for many and few jobs available for those with practical skills, the former Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses are forced into menial labor to survive and artists, musicians and writers struggle to reconcile the world they now live in against the one that shaped and influenced them. Rappaport covers the full gamut, and at times the book is richer for it by showing a full experience of every type of Russian émigré but it also bogs it down; trying to keep all of the different people and their occupations (or lack thereof) can be a struggle. Any reader that has a great love of where they come from will certainly empathize with the Russians removed from their homeland; it may be more difficult to generate sympathy for Grand Dukes used to showering jewels on mistresses being forced to work as taxi drivers. The author shows that there are those that acknowledge their circumstances and learn to adapt, but there are many that struggle to reconcile that a pampered existence is no longer theirs for the taking and prefer to live in the past – and their glory years. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. 1 like
Ms. Rappaport has given us a well-researched story of Paris before and after the Russian Revolution and what led to the downfall of the Romanov dynasty. Paris has always been a gathering place for culture. The food, the fashion, the ex-pats, including the Russian aristocracy. The Russians brought money and spent it almost obscenely. And those descriptions go a long way to explaining the Bolshevik’s rage and brutal acts. Those who escaped were those who had either thought ahead or the ones who ran with only what they could carry. In Paris, these same former royals were doing menial labor along with their families. Paris welcomed everyone. Artists, writers, and even spies. Some did very well and some did very poorly. The research in this book is spot on. I have always had a fascination with the Romanovs and this book went a long way in explaining the politics and the Romanovs. Very Well Done! NetGalley/ March 8th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press