Friday, 6 May 2011

Book Review: Anastasia: The Last Grand Ducess (My Royal Story) by Carolyn Meyer

Anastasia (My Royal Story)
Amazon description

In 1914 Grand Duchess Anastasia, youngest daughter of the Tsar, leads a privileged life in the grand palaces of Russia. The First World War and the Bolshevik revolution are just about to erupt. With the royal family arrested and exiled to Siberia, the life Anastasia knows is swept away forever. Spanning the last four years of Anastasia's life, My Royal Story offers a fascinating insight into her life.


The diary starts when Anastasia is thirteen and enjoying a life of luxury as a Grand Duchess. She is the joker of the family and is always looking for ways to make people laugh. I thought the diary bought her to life well as a fun loving girl growing up in early twentieth century Russia with her thoughts and feelings told clearly. It was easy to relate to and sympathise with Anastasia and get inside her world as the book progressed.The beginning the diary is happy but when Russia become involved in WW1, Anastasia's life becomes harder and sadder as her privileges are taken away. I really liked the distinction that can be seen between these two periods of time and thought the author handled Anastasia's tragic fate very well.

What I liked about the diary format was that it showed that despite being a Grand Duchess, Anastasisa and her siblings had lots of fun escapades, some imagined by the author and others historically documented. There are the typical complaints from a tween and later on teen girl about school work and dreams of a coming out party fit for a Princess that provide a reminder that Anastasia had the same thoughts and feelings as any other teenager commonly experiences whilst growing up.

I read this book almost straight after Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap, which I loved, and I think that this affected my reading experience because it portrayed Anastasia in a more naive and immature way than in Anastasia's Secret. I also felt that she wasn't as complex a character even though I liked her distinctive  personality filled voice in the diary.

Whilst offering a fascinating insight into the life of the Romonov family, I found it was written in simpler language than other books in the My Story series and this was a bit of a disappointment. Having found out a lot about the Romonov family before, the special bond and closeness that they had especially amongst Anastasia's sisters didn't have the same effect on me as the first time I read about it. Though, this shouldn't be a concern for those who haven't learnt much about Anastasia and the Romonovs before.

One of my favourite parts was the detailed epilogue which included historical notes, the family tree, a glossary of characters in the Romonov household, information about the Russian language and a section on the Russian calendar. This back section was a lovely addition to the story and was very helpful.

Despite some of the pitfalls, I still enjoyed reading it and would particularly recommend it to middle grade readers who want to find out about the Romonov family through the first hand voice of Anastasia if they haven't read much about her before. If you're looking for a more developed YA book about Anastasia with a more mature narrator then I suggest Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap. You can read my review for that by clicking on the link.

Rating: 3 stars


  1. I may be stating the obvious but is this the Anastasia from the cartoon type film of the same name?
    Anastasia's Secret look really good! On my to-read. This one is probably more immature because I think that My Story series is aimed at younger children.

  2. Ooh, I hadn't heard about this one before! It sounds really interesting, ever since watching the Disney film Anastasia, I've been a bit intrigued by the Romonov family. I'll add it to my to-read list, thanks for the review! (oh, and I think I'll read Anastasia's Secret after reading this one, maybe it'll be better that way)

  3. This was the first book I read about Anastasia so I really liked it back then, though that was years ago - I read it when it was published in the US as part of The Royal Diaries series.

  4. I use to love the Royal Diaries series. I have the Marie Antoinette one, which I still love to this day. I should read all them again. =) Thanks for reading this and giving such a good review!


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