The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar

The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar

by Robert Alexander
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The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient), directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters)

Drawing from decades of work, travel, and research in Russia, Robert Alexander re-creates the tragic, perennially fascinating story of the final days of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov as seen through the eyes of their young kitchen boy, Leonka. Now an ancient Russian immigrant, Leonka claims to be the last living witness to the Romanovs’ brutal murders and sets down the dark secrets of his past with the imperial family. Does he hold the key to the many questions surrounding the family’s murder? Historically vivid and compelling, The Kitchen Boy is also a touching portrait of a loving family that was in many ways similar, yet so different, from any other.

"Ingenious...Keeps readers guessing through the final pages." —USA Today

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142003817
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/27/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 76,382
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.43(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert Alexander has studied at Leningrad State University, worked for the U.S. government in the former U.S.S.R., and traveled extensively throughout Russia.


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Date of Birth:

August 23, 1952

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois


B.A. in Russian Language and Creative Writing, Michigan State University, 1976

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Kitchen Boy 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 79 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was defenitely the best book I have ever read. It was a perfect blend of fact and fiction, and it was beautifully researched. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. When I bought it, I thought it would be really light and some Romanov 'what-if' fluffy fantasy. But I was wrong. This took me about a week to read as the text was very small. The way Alexander spins the story is incredible. The story is in the point of view of of ninety-four year old Misha, who is living in a huge estate on Lake Michigan and waiting to die. His wife, May, is two weeks in the grave, and Misha is facing serious inner torment, which he has felt for over eighty years. On a series of recorded tapes made for his granddaughter and heir Kate, he explains the last days of the Romanovs and that he was really the kitchen boy. As those last days in Siberia unfold, Misha reminisces of the family that so quickly ceased to exist and his part in their downfall. By the end, Misha has unvailed the his truth. The end is very confusing, but a reread or two will make it make sense. Overall, this was an amazing book. It was so well written in its simplicity. This is one of those books that everyone should read. Praise for Robert Alexander's The Kitchen Boy!!!
golden_sea_horse More than 1 year ago
"The Kitchen Boy" is the first in three books including "Rasputin's Daughter" and "The Romanov Bride" (about the Empress' sister) that Robert Alexander wrote about this dynamic and tragic time in Russia's recent past. What's fascinating is the combination of a great deal of actual history and plausible fiction (namely in the form of character dialogue and motivation, though certainly some of the action is invented.) It opens a window into the worlds of peasants and rulers with drama and affection. Knowing some of the foolish decisions that were made at the time, I found myself developing sympathies toward to some (though not all) of these iconic people. (I accidentally happened upon the three books in reverse order. That didn't stop me from enjoying them as they don't lead one into the other.) I'm also recommending Tom Bradby's "The White Russian". This book falls in line with Alexander's trilogy in both time period and even some of the characters. (The Empress herself makes an appearance and some of the dialogue includes the discussion of the Imperial family and Rasputin.) Again, it provides a window into the lives of people from this place and time with evocative settings and dramatic plot.
MysM More than 1 year ago
Robert Alexander is the pen name of Robert D. Zimmerman, author of psychological thrillers, children's books and historical fiction. This 2003 novel takes one of the most brutal acts of mass murder of the 20th century, the complete obliteration of the Romanov dynasty of Russia, and puts a new twist on it. Over the almost 100 years since that early July morning, 1918, when Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, their four daughters and Alexei Nicholaevich, heir to the Russian throne, along with four of their attendants who had voluntarily joined the imperial family in exile, were executed in a small cellar room in the House of Special Purpose in Yekaterinburg. Carefully preserved documents -- letters, telegrams, diaries, official orders, smuggled messages  -- rumours, claims of survivors, and archaeologist excavations have pieced together the events of that night with reasonable accuracy. One of the mysteries has been the missing bodies of two of the children from the mass grave. Alexander has imagined the events of that night, and the days leading up to it through the eyes of The Kitchen Boy , Leonka Sednyov, who was sent home earlier in the day, July 16th, and disappeared into the confusion of the revolution. The narrator of the story is Dyedushka Misha. The time -- summer, 1998; the place -- Lake Forest village, Illinois. He says he is 94 years old, that he was born in Russia, and that he was that self-same kitchen boy who witnessed the murders of the last of the Romanovs. After a lifetime of lies, having lost his dear wife and son, Misha wishes to set down the events as he remembers them for his granddaughter, Katya, and entrust her to return to the people of Russia the wealth of Romanov jewels he and his wife took with them in their escape from Russia to America in 1918. He sets his story down on tape and leaves it in an envelope with the key to the secret vault behind the bookcase, just before he kills himself -- because all these years he has carried the guilt of hastening the death of the imperial family. However, even in this final confession, Misha is continuing a deception which his granddaughter will doggedly track down and uncover. Misha's story reveals the tenderness of a loving family, the care and concern for each other but especially for Alexei who suffers greatly through the summer and is unable to walk and must be carried or pushed in a rolling wicker chaise. There are the games, and singing to keep spirits up; there is reading, and racing around the rooms with their dogs. Then there is the intense heat within the house because the windows are all sealed and painted over, and the hour, twice daily when they are allowed to walk in the garden for a bit of air. And always, there is the slovenly appearance of the guards, the pilfering of the family's belongings, the senseless rules, and the cruel and malicious indignities. Daily, the women sew their precious jewels into their corsets and into the caps of Nicholas and Alexei so that if they should manage an escape, they might have the where-with-all to survive. In the midst of this boredom and hopelessness comes a chance -- a message smuggled into the house and entrusted to the kitchen boy, Leonka -- a ray of hope of rescue. This is not a children's book. The documented indignities and brutality are plainly laid out. The story is somewhat familiar to anyone who has read about the end of the Romanov dynasty but has many surprises throughout and keeps you guessing right up to the last page. Nothing is as it seems!
Annie Tressler More than 1 year ago
this truly was amazing it was riveting it literally had me putting together a million different endings! a must read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I read on the train going and coming from work. I got so into it i almost missed my stop a couple of times....this one is hard to put down. There are so many book about the Tsar's family it was interesting to read from a servant's point of view.
L_T102 More than 1 year ago
The story catches your attention right away. The historical facts are presented in a very interesting plot with amazing insignts to the day-to-day trials of Tsar Nicholas and his family. I enjoyed reading this book, and will recommend it ot all my friends.
ahutchga1972 More than 1 year ago
I'm a fan of the Romanov period in history. I picked up this book because of the cover. This book was an easy read, and I thought I knew what was going to happen. But I was wrong. I did not see the ending coming. For another book with a surprise ending, see Pat Conroy's South of Broad.
Alex96AR More than 1 year ago
The Kitchen Boy is amazing, absolutely amazing! It's the story about when the Russian Imperial family was thrown into exile some of their servants from the palace camewith them, willingly. But along with the Empress's maid, the Tsar's footman, the Tsarevich's doctor, and the cook came a little boy named Leonka who has never been in close contact with let alone in the same boy as the Romanovs. He does though become friends with the young royal prince Aleksei as he starts to earn the trust of the entire family things become more dangerous as the Kommandant starts to grow suspicious could Leonka become one buried with the Romanovs?
Anonymous 20 days ago
Good read. Enjoyed it.
Anonymous 21 days ago
This is one of those books which makes you feel like you are right there. You can clearly visualize all of the drama. I could not put it down.
Ilovemister 11 months ago
This book was exciting and heartbreaking. Must Read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not enjoy this one!
DOCL More than 1 year ago
Book was good. However anybody who has read information about this time period would probably know that the "kitchen Boy" was killed by Stalin in around 1941/1942. There not sure of exactly the year. However it was a quick read with good historical notes. The only other problem is since this book was written they found the bodies of the two missing family members and used DNA to identify them in 2007. But I still enjoyed the book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A glimpse into the life and characters of this tragic story. I enjoyed this very much
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
gbautista72 More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. It was engaging & I wanted to keep reading. It's historical fiction based on the last days for the Romanov family, the royalty in Russia. I liked the real letters & other historical facts. Russian history is fascinating & you get a glimpse of it here in this novel. It made me curious to visit the Russian museums & archives. The end of the novel was a surprise, but I knew there was to be a plot twist!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Kitchen Boy is a National Bestseller, and I can definitely see why. The book is about a boy named Leonka who was the only witness of the brutal assassination of the Imperial Family, the Romanovs. Tsar Nicholas, his wife, and five kids are trapped inside The House of Special Purpose without them even knowing. The Bolsheviks need one reason to have the excuse to kill Romanovs, and later in the book they desperately find one. Robert Alexander made this book come alive as if I was in it. He takes his readers to Russia where the story takes place, in a town called Yekaterinburg. His descriptive words make me feel like I was watching the book on television. He makes the characters, the setting, and the storyline so vibrant, as if I was living in the time period of the Russian Revolution itself. The only gory part of the book is at the end is where it describes the assassination of the Royal family. Some people may be turned off because of this scene, but again, if you do not like blood and gore I still suggest reading this book because there is very little. This book can be read by young adolescents to honestly anybody. There is no given age for this book. If you’re into history, or even if you’re not, why not read it? “Ingenious…Keeps readers guessing through the final pages.” says USA Today and “History may be the subject matter of his latest fiction, but [Alexander] crafts it with the excruciating build of dread suitable to a horror story.” says Minneapolis Star Tribune. I would recommend this book to anybody who likes a good and short read. One wouldn’t even have to like Historical Fiction to understand or like this book, because this book is excellent for all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The imagined saga of the "kitchen boy" told against the actual tragedy of the Romanovs. Starts strong then becomes far-fetched. Worth a read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We are going to Saint Petersburg as part of a cruise this summer. This is a good book to give some historical background for the trip. I would recommend "Leningrad" also for historical background on Saint Petersburg. It is a little harder read as it is history not a historical novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't waste your time or money. I could only read the fist 82 pages....this book lacks passion and imagination. The topic is one of great depth and this does not do it justice. Very superficial and bland.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book builds to a strong final life journey. Highly suggest reading after ken follitts fall of giants.