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>"I thought that he was tall"

>Nicholas the II, that is, but no, the late tsar was 5’7″. Just in time for summer reading I’ve begun Greg King and Penny Wilson’s The Fate of the Romanovs (Wiley) and am ineluctably reminded of my seventh-grade-summer infatuation with Robert Massie’s crowd-pleasingly royalist Nicholas and Alexandra. It was one of those books I immediately reread after finishing, but I would hesitate to go back to it now–has anyone else? The Fate of the Romanovs is more of a grown-up book, and focuses on the execution of the family and subsequent attempts to ascertain just who died and when. While it sometimes reads like C.S.I. Ekaterinburg in its dense clinical forensic detail, I’m having a great time.

But while the book is satisfyingly big for a summer’s read, it’s too big to take along to ALA tomorrow. (As is Aidan Chambers’ This Is All, my review of which is due, like, yesterday). I might pack my favorite New Orleans mystery, J. M. Redmann’s The Intersection of Law and Desire, in order to scare myself to sleep, but I’m stuck for what to read on the plane. Any suggestions?

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Elizabeth says:

    >I have a chick lit book that’s your kind of thing. It’s called The Devil in the Junior League and it’s sort of a minor-league Judith Krantz/Olivia Goldsmith. The heroine thinks she’s on top of the world –next in line to be Junior League President, rich, good-looking husband, etc. but it all goes predictably awry and she has to claw her way back. I could give you the galley at ALA for the plane ride back, actually, if you want it.

  2. JeanneB says:

    >For me, Nicholas and Alexandra was my 12th grade obsession. Alexandra was wearing something white and lacy — very J.S. Sargent — on the cover of my paperback. I never went back to it, either, nor to Dr. Zhivago.

    How about To Russia With Love for the plane? You can never go wrong with good old James.

  3. Tristan White says:

    >Poppy Z. Brite’s Prime and Liquor, detective stories (I think) featuring lots of food and two men who run a restaurant, have been recommended to me as excellent plane reads set in New Orleans.

  4. >As soon as you started talking about Nicholas II, I thought Nicholas and Alexandra. I recall it being an adult biography. What does it mean that we can recall it as a big reading event when we were teenagers?

    I’m reading Anansi Boys. Grown-up Gaiman, though not as involving as American Gods. I took it to the Laundromat, so I think it would work on a plane.

  5. Anonymous says:

    >You want Timothy Leary: A Biography by Robert Greenfield

  6. >”Back When We Were Grownups” by Anne Tyler. She’s got a new one out that I haven’t read yet called “Digging for America.”

    I can’t recommend any YA books because I’m afraid you’ve read them all … or at least read all the reviews. Ha!

  7. Roger Sutton says:

    >Thank you for all the suggestions. Gail, N&A was a bestselling adult book that also captured a wide teen audience at the time (a common situation too many YA people forget, unfortunately). I think it was so popular because it simplified the history, had a good storytelling style and made a clear distinction between the good guys (Romanovs) and the bad (Communists and Rasputin). And as I recall, it left the Anastasia question somewhat open, which was thrilling. My apologies to Massie if I’m misremembering.

  8. little brother says:

    >I’d suggest flying with one of Greg Herren’s Chanse MacLeod mysteries: “murder in the rue st ann” or “jackson square jazz”.

  9. Anonymous says:

    >Greg King and Penny Wilson’s “The Fate of the Romanov’s” account of what happened in the Ipatiev basement affected me more strongly than anything else I have ever read or seen. It was an incredible combination of real horror AND the power of the writing used to recreate it.

    Mr. King has a website:

  10. Anonymous says:

    >I love Anne Tyler, but Back When We Were Grownups sucked. Read The Amateur Marriage if you haven’t–it’s one of her best, at least as good as anything she wrote before she started going downhill with A Patchwork Planet.

  11. rindawriter says:

    >“Fourth Uncle On The Mountain: A Memoir of a Barefoot Doctor in Vietnam,” by Quang Van Nguyen. Nonfiction but what a read, what a READ! And that’s saying a lot for hyperactive reader me. Packaged for adults but I’d offer it to an older YA to read did I know one personally right now.

  12. Melinda says:

    >I’m sorry, anon, but I’m afraid your comment made my hair stand on end, and that’s a lot of hair.

    Patchwork Planet wasn’t her best shot, for sure, but wasn’t she writing that about the time her husband died?

    I like Grownups mainly because she piled about 36 characters into the book and yet was able to make them into these incredible individuals. Also I’ve been checking out the way she structures her books because I’d like to do that with my own books.

    I do have Marriage — I didn’t like it as much (I suspect that I like Grownups better because it’s a happier book, and Marriage isn’t) but it’s still good stuff.

    To each her own, right!

    Rindawriter, I’m going to check out your book, though. It sounds worthy.

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