This book presents the events of the revolutionary period in Russia. It opens shortly before the beginning of the first world war, with the Grand Duchesses and their parents, the Tsar and Tsarina, living a life of luxury, albeit one that is sharply limited. The story, told in the voices of the four Grand Duchesses in alternating chapters, presents their increasingly limited and controlled lives as the war goes poorly, the Tsar abdicates his throne, the royal family is taken prisoner and placed under house arrest in increasingly more distant and isolated locations, and ultimately the royal family's execution.
This book was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I adored the characterization. The Grand Duchesses were particularly well brought to life, and well-rounded in their characterization. They each had their own unique personality, and those personalities never wavered or became confused with one another through the rotating chapters. At the same time, this book was way, way too long. The tempo can only be described as plodding. You knew what was coming, but it took forever for anything to happen. It was also extremely difficult to keep track of the passing time because of the manner in which it was written.
Overall, this was an interesting book, but it could have been improved immensely by a good editing and shortening. I'd give this a 3 out of 5.