They were four charming, intelligent sisters, each with her own personality, talents, and weaknesses, but in the eyes of the world they were always a group: the four grand duchesses of Russia. They captivated the world from the moment of their births, and still today the tragic story of the four beautiful doomed sisters fascinates; Helen Rappaport captures the real sisters, their hopes and dreams, fears and frailties, and in her immensely readable book The Romanov Sisters.
Olga, the eldest, was sensitive and prone to melancholy; she was also warm-hearted and impulsive and fell in love with unsuitable soldiers. The second sister, Tatiana, was reticent and altruistic; a born nurse, she kept the household running when her chronically ill mother could not. Middle sister Maria was self-effacing, plump and pretty; the most “typically Russian” she was loved by all who knew her. And Anastasia, impudent, irrepressible Anastasia, was a cheeky clown who brought laughter and naughtiness to the imperial family.
Simply raised, the girls grew up charmingly unspoiled by their loving parents. There was plenty of laughter and fun in the imperial household to be sure, but sadness was their constant companion. Younger brother Alexey’s hemophilia was a constant worry, as was their mother’s chronic, incapacitating ill health. Above all were the increasing challenges to their father’s autocratic rule which kept the girls isolated and eventually proved their undoing.