After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War

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After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War

After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War

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Many missed mother Russia in the end and this book does go some way to explain Russia, it’s people and history. On being aroused, the grand duke was presented with a bill for five hundred francs, but had no means of paying.

La Balletta had, they complained, “cost the Russian people more than the Battle of Tsushima”—a naval debacle that had forced Alexis’s resignation. Perhaps the most fascinating of all the migrations of the turbulent European 20th century is that of the Russians who fled upheaval in their homeland and found their way to Paris. Readers will be swept up in the author’s leisurely yet informative narrative as she sheds new light on the lives of the four daughters. But sometimes when the Boyars were out for a whirl, their behavior got out of hand: one particular count was “partial to making pincushion designs with a sharp-pronged fork on a woman’s bare bosom,” and a group of Russian officers “played an interesting little game with loaded revolvers. She lives in the West Country, and has an enduring love of the English countryside and the Jurassic Coast, but her ancestral roots are in the Orkneys and Shetlands from where she is descended on her father's side.From the internationally bestselling author of Four Sisters comes the story of the Russian aristocrats, artists, and intellectuals who sought refuge in Belle Époque Paris. During that hectic “Russian Week,” Paris’s population, then 2 million, swelled with 930,000 visitors. Paul was, however, a sad figure for many years, having lost his young wife, Princess Alexandra of Greece, in 1891 after only three years of marriage, leaving him with two young children, Maria and Dmitri.

For years, Russian aristocrats had enjoyed all that Belle Epoque Paris had to offer, spending lavishly when they visited. Far worse than this was that Paul’s children by his first wife were placed under the guardianship of his brother Grand Duke Sergey and his wife Ella (the tsaritsa’s sister). Cries of “ Vive le bébé et la nounou” greeted even little Olga and her nanny as they drove in an open carriage down a Champs-Élysées festooned with decorations and artificial blooms in the chestnut trees. I've read every memoir of this period available in French and English, so I may be a slightly jaded reader. After the Romanovs covers primarily the 1917-1940 experiences of displaced Russians in Paris with emphasis on former royalty.For her difficult position as the morganatic wife of a senior Romanov created all kinds of problems of protocol and precedence at official functions. It was an opportune time, for Russophilia still ruled in the city in the wake of the Franco-Russian alliance. But Paul was not allowed to reclaim his children from his widowed sister-in-law Ella, and Olga was not welcome. He had favored all things French in the construction of his own “window on the West”—the Russian capital St. After the disruptions in Europe caused by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 and Russia’s estrangement from Germany and Austria-Hungary after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, the first seeds of a new golden age of rapprochement with France were sown.

While their victim slumbered, his companions had helped themselves to all his personal possessions, including his clothes, leaving him only his white tie, which they tied round his neck before departing.Nijinsky, Diaghilev, Bunin, Chagall, and Stravinsky joined Picasso, Hemingway, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein in the creative crucible of the Années folles. Certainly, at least if Helen Rappaport’s barnstorming book After the Romanovs is anything to go by, they had some of the most amazing stories.

So well known was he in Paris as a hard drinker and gastronome that Vladimir was nicknamed “Le Grand Duc Bon Vivant” and you could find filet de sole Grand Duke Vladimir on most menus there. It was now painfully clear that Paul and Olga must make their home permanently in Paris; but they needed a far more imposing residence and initially looked for somewhere near Versailles. He had become an almost permanent resident in Paris after 1847, having left Russia in pursuit of his obsessive love for the married French opera singer Pauline Viardot. Throughout the visit security was very tight, for the tsar was the number one target of Russian revolutionaries and anarchists. In exile, White Russians sought to overthrow the Bolshevik regime from afar, and double agents plotted from both sides.Many of the elite Russians fled with only what they could carry with jewelry being the most portable valuable but doomed to be sold into an oversupplied market.

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