The Kitchen Boy
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kristin Scott Thomas, 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.
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Watch the video below on foreshadowing. Then reread the ending of the prologue. How is the author using foreshadowing? (This annotation contains a video)
Why is Misha struggling with the story he is telling in the tape recorder?
Joseph Stalin became dictator of the Soviet Union after Vladimir Lenin died. He was a brutal leader that killed approximately 20 million Soviets during his leadership. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Misha's purpose in creating this tape for Kate?
What type of documents do you think Misha is giving Kate?
After watching the video below, reread the highlighted passage. How has Misha used these descriptors to create an image for Katya to see of his childhood? (This annotation contains a video)
What does the highlighted passage say about the atmosphere in Russia during this time?
Why does Misha share this encounter with the nun?
The State Archive of the Russian Federation includes state documents, mostly related to police activity and personal documents mostly related to the Romanovs. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the author's incorporation of real documents help build the story?
Does Avdeyev know about the note or is he fishing for possible information?
Why is this scene between the Romanov family important for us, the reader, to witness?
How do the rumors and Aleksandra's heritage lead to their downfall? Why is this brief history important to the story? (This annotation contains an image)
Read the highlighted passage. How does Misha express his feelings about being overlooked?
At the end of every chapter, Misha seems to reveal involvement in the Romanov murders. How do these revelations intrigue the reader?
What thoughts are depressing Nicholas in the last weeks of his life?
Below is one of the last known pictures of Alexsei and his sister traveling to the Ipatiev house. The family was known to enjoy photography. (This annotation contains an image)
How do the servants communicate to each other their true feelings or needs?
What is another main motivation for Misha to agree to be courier, other than his love of the royal family?
Why are they sewing jewels and gems into their clothing? Why might this be a mistake?
Is it strange that Misha doesn't share his feelings during this interchange?
Below is the picture of Aleksander Palace, the home of Nicholas and Aleksandra. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Misha's opinion of Aleksandra's religious beliefs? Why do you think Misha feels this way?
Marie Antoinette was married to Louis XV. During a time of great unrest, Antoinette became a symbol of aristocratic decadence for the French Revolution. (This annotation contains an image)
Gregori Rasputin was a mystical religious leader brought in to heal Alexsei's hemophilia. Tsarina Aleksandra's devotion to Rasputin led to suspicion of her and aided the revolution. (This annotation contains an image)
How does this scene with Aleksandra and the soldier contradict Misha's claim that the royal family is always gracious during their confinement?
What does this highlighted passage mean?
What is stressful about this situation?
What would be a synonym for divertissement in the context of the highlighted passage?
Nicholas and Aleksandra's religious passion is mentioned several times. Compare/contrast these to Misha's religious views.
Why does Misha say Aleksandra was a complicated woman?
What does this scene show about the royal family and their captivity?
Why does Avdeyev call the royals "blood drinkers"?
Below is a link to a brief history of Nicholas's reign as Tsar. Read the article while keeping in mind the opening paragraph of this chapter. Given the historical information, how is Misha's editorial in the paragraph both true and false? (This annotation contains a link)
Misha uses a combination of both literal and figurative language to express a great range of emotions and thoughts in his retelling. Reread the highlighted passage. How does Misha's use of both figurative and literal language describe the tension they are feeling? (This annotation contains a video)
What message is Kharitonov conveying to Nicholas and Aleksandra?
Why does Misha say that he never thought to run away?
Why does knowing that the Romanovs are buried in an Orthodox church give May and Misha peace?
Misha made a good life for himself. Why does he believe this means nothing?
Has Misha answered all of the contributing factors of Nicholas and Aleksandra's downfall and Revolution or is he simplifying a complicated issue?
Prologue-Chapter 8 Quiz
What would be a common term for the unnamed people who created the graffiti?
Misha states that a cleansing or liquidation was a new concept. On smaller scales, there were ethnic programs or massacres, but Misha is referring to mass genocide.
Why is the message odd?
Why does Novice Maria hand Misha an envelope when the milk chevert has a note in it?
In the highlighted passage, what would be a synonym for the word camarilla ?
Watch the video below on irony. How is the highlighted passage a strong example of irony? (This annotation contains a video)
In the highlighted passage, Misha recalls his daydream of rescue. What do his thoughts say about his affection for the royal family and?
Is Misha angry with Nicholas or confused by Nicholas' actions?
Below is a picture of Russian krendl bread. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is the description of the bracelet important?
Would Nicholas respond to the rescue attempts differently if he knew the fate of his immediate family?
What feelings should the royal family have felt with the removal of Avyedev and his soldiers?
Should Aleksandra provoke the new komandent?
What emotion is Misha expressing in this highlighted passage about Yurovsky and his soldiers?
What shocks Misha the most about Yurovsky?
Misha has repeatedly blamed himself for the Romanov family's deaths, but is he really to blame?
They have been unable to leave the house since their arrest. Why is the installation of bars on the windows so shocking?
Why does Yurovsky give the watch back to Nicholas if he knows he is going to kill him?
Why is Yurovsky suspicious of the priest?
Why does Yurovsky attend the service?
Why is Yurovsky having everyone checked when leaving and coming to the house?
Why would Yurovsky be searching for royal jewels?
What was Misha's mistake?
10,000 carats is equivalent to 4.4 pounds. That is a lot of jewels!
Vladimir Lenin had been exiled and the German government snuck him back into Russia to take control of the government after the Revolution. He became the leader of the Communist Party. (This annotation contains an image)
What else does Misha feel guilty for besides the murder of the Romanov family?
Why is Misha confused about his reassignment?
What does this scene, combined with Misha's conversation with Yurovsky, tell us about Yurovsky?
Why does it take the Romanovs so long to dress?
This article is an eyewitness account from Medvedev, the second in command to Yurovsky. Read it before continuing on. What elements do the eyewitness account and this fictional piece share? (This annotation contains a link)
Why does this moment haunt Misha?
Below is a picture of the cellar of the Ipatiev house after the murders. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the highlighted passage use imagery to paint a dark, evil picture in your head? (This annotation contains a video)
What does Misha compare the soldiers to?
Which literary term is Misha using to describe his revulsion?
Why does Misha cover Alexsei's head?
What is the primary motivation for the men helping Yurovsky?
Why is Misha having trouble remembering what happened clearly?
Why does Misha choose to go to the monastery instead of the doctor?
What picture does the imagery paint for you in this opening sentence?
Why is Maria worried about the jeweled corset?
Why is it better not to mark the grave?
What does this say about Sister Antonina that she never broke her silence?
Why is it ironic that Maria died peacefully?
Is Misha's explanation of why he and Maya never told their true story justifiable?
Below is a picture from the Orthodox Burial of Nicholas, Aleksandra, three of their children, and their servants. (This annotation contains an image)
Misha returns for the box of knick knacks because it is
What is the real lie that Misha and May have told?
What does Kate's fear about the bodyguard tell us about the state of Russia even after the fall of Communism?
This novel is considered a work of historical fiction, which means that it is a fictional story told in the framework of a real time and place. Do you think that this scene is part of the fictional aspect?
What is Kate's real mission in Russia?
Why is the bracelet familiar?
What is the secret Misha and May kept, and even lied to Kate about?
Why did Misha lie about who he was? What is he afraid of?
Why doesn't Marina hold malice towards Misha?
Why does Maria forgive him? Why did Nicholas forgive him?