Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What the Grand Duke Wrote

"Books have their dates, and books have their fates, and at a sale at the Library of Serendip I recently discovered a copy of Once A Grand Duke, published in 1931, a book of memoirs by Grand Duke Alexander of Russia. The title promised monarchical nostalgia of the Czarist court, along the possible lines of Madame Cantacuzene, the descendant of General Grant who married a Russian and ended up consorting with grand duchesses in St. Petersburg. And since Grand Duke Alexander Mihailovich’s claim on our attention was that at the time of his writing he was among the last living Romanovs, why would one think otherwise? Furthermore, the publisher was not some high-toned house of the period – Boni and Liveright, or Lippincott, or the new entry, Alfred A. Knopf, but instead humble Garden City Publishing (of unidentifiable Garden City, New York). And there was slight foxing on some of the pages. I was taking a chance...

The book did not disappoint..."