John Van der Kiste has written a fabulous biography in his work about the life of Grand Duchess Xenia Romanova. His incredible research for this book has paid off brilliantly because his use of the primary resource documents which surrounded her life truly helped bring Xenia into clear focus both as a history figure, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and as a deeply complex person. Perhaps the biggest tribute I can give van der Kiste is that by his book’s end (and Xenia’s death), I was truly saddened much as I would be by the death of a friend. I came to feel that I knew this woman, a person of great personal dignity and grace, yet who also had her share of weaknesses and foibles, and who was saddled with family tragedy that is almost impossible for us to fathom. While as a member of the Imperial elite in Russia, she was a person of distinction who lived the life of a wealthy heiress and who certainly had too much idle time for her own good. Yet, with the Revolution, events brought on in part because of her own son-in-law (who murdered Rasputin), her life and that of her extended family, and all Russians changed forever. Her subsequent tribulations, which lasted the last 43 years of her life, longer than she had lived in Russia, truly showed the strength she learned from the hardships of her life. While Xenia isn’t a well-known or pivotal figure in Russian history, her story will be of great interest to anyone interested in delving more deeply into the Imperial history of turn-of-the-20th century Russia. You’ll come to know Grand Duchess Xenia and I believe, appreciate her depth, and determination as a result.