Saturday, September 26, 2009

Book review: The Last Duchess by Sharon Stewart

Beneath the Crown: The Last Duchess by Sharon Stewart (Published by Scholastic Canada, September 1, 2006)

Dunia is a young peasant girl in the Russian countryside of 1911 who runs away from an abusive father, hoping for a better life. She is found by the infamous Rasputin, who takes her to the royal palace to be his messenger. At the palace she befriends the Tsar's family and becomes especially close friends with the youngest daughter, Anastasia. However she begins to distrust Rasputin's motives and on the eve of the Russian Revolution she must choose where her loyalties lie, even if it means risking losing everything she has come to love in her new life.

This was a very interesting and enjoyable historical novel for young adult about the Russian Revolution, and the last Tsar and his family. By using a peasant girl as the narrator and the Tsar's family as main characters, the author was able to show the perspective of an ordinary girl who was born into poverty in contrast to the luxurious life the royal family lived. I would highly recommend this book to young readers who enjoyed historical fiction such as the Royal Diaries series (particularly the one about Anastasia), as well as to older readers like myself who have a special interest in the subject.

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