After the Romanovs

Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Epoque through revolution and war

This is the story of the Russian emigration to Paris, from artistic exiles in the days of the Belle Époque to the mass exodus of political refugees after the revolution of 1917 and during the ensuing civil war.

After the Romanovs

After the Romanovs is the story of the Russian aristocrats, artists, and intellectuals who sought freedom and refuge in the City of Light.

Paris has always been a city of cultural excellence, fine wine and food and the latest fashions. But it has also been a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution, never more so than before and after the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Romanov dynasty. For years, Russian aristocrats had enjoyed all Belle Epoque Paris had to offer, spending lavishly when they visited. It was a place of artistic experimentation such as Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. But the brutality of the Bolshevik takeover forced Russians of all types to flee their homeland, sometimes leaving with only the clothes on their backs.

Arriving in Paris, former princes could be seen driving taxicabs, while their wives who could sew worked for the fashion houses, their unique Russian style serving as inspiration for designers like Coco Chanel. Talented intellectuals, artists, poets, philosophers and writers struggled in exile, eking out a living at menial jobs. Some, like Bunin, Chagall and Stravinsky, encountered great success in the same Paris that welcomed Americans like Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Political activists sought to overthrow the Bolshevik regime from afar, while double agents plotted espionage and assassination from both sides. Others became trapped in a cycle of poverty and their all-consuming homesickness for Russia, the homeland they had been forced to abandon.

This is their story.

USA 8 March 2022

Australia and kindle 29 March 2022; UK hardback October 2022



“The top-notch historian Helen Rappaport brings to life the world of the Russian aristocrats, artists, and intellectuals who sought refuge in belle époque Paris. Plotting, gossip, homesickness, and champagne.”

Robbie Millen, The times

“Traces the Russian encounter with Paris from the city’s glittering years as an expat playground before World War I to the grimmer reality of life in exile after the Bolshevik seizure of power.”


“Well-researched, readable, and poignant.”

Edward Lucas, The Times

“Read Rappaport’s excellent book to develop a better sense of why the [Russians] did what they did, and what became of the people who helped shape the Russia of old. What a story”


“The depth of the research is impressive, and the scope of the book is ambitious. Rappaport successfully traces those first Belle Époque artists and royals, those who were forced to flee with nothing during the revolution, and their experiences through World War I and beyond.”


“Full of colorful anecdotes and sharp character sketches, this breezy account of life in exile entertains.”


“Throughout, the author, a consummate historian, displays her deep research into the era, the city, and its denizens. A culturally vibrant account of Russians uprooted to Paris during a tumultuous time.”


“[An] absorbing and poignantly topical account of life in exile … Harrowing, inspiring, and illuminating.”

Miranda Seymour, Literary Review

“Rappaport’s stories beg to be shared. Her reader comes out wiser.”

David Herkt, The New Zealand Herald

“Compellingly sketched … evocative and often moving.”

History Revealed

“Perhaps the most fascinating of all the migrations of the turbulent European 20th century is that of the Russians who fled upheaval in their homeland and found their way to Paris. Certainly, at least if Helen Rappaport’s barnstorming book After the Romanovs is anything to go by, they had some of the most amazing stories.”

Charlie Connelly, The New European

“Entertaining and, at times, heart-wrenching…Rappaport, a prolific historian and highly regarded Romanov expert, unveils a Paris in which Russians had long played a prominent role.”


“An engaging group biography…Rappaport is a mistress of the telling detail.” 


“As a collective biography of some of the prominent artistic and aristocratic figures, After the Romanovs conjures up a real sense of the social and cultural lives of elite Russian Paris across the revolutionary divide.” 

Charlotte Alston, BBC History Magazine

“Vivid and harrowing.”


“Rappaport’s engaging prose and prodigious research makes After the Romanovs a touching and enlightening experience.”


“One of the effects of the Romanov dynasty’s fall in 1917 was a flood of Russian refugees into Europe, including the arrival of aristocrats, artists, writers, and intellectuals who landed in Paris at the height of the city’s creative ferment. Helen Rappaport tells their stories with marvelous skill and empathy.”


“Memoirs and literature deftly round out [Rappaport’s] historical reporting to create a vivid picture of the wrenching life change that thousands of Russians underwent … This narrative nonfiction will appeal to those interested in Russian history, especially the Russian Revolution, and to readers of historical fiction by authors like Ken Follett or Marie Benedict.”

Laurie Unger Skinner, Library Journal

“Thorough and extremely well-researched.”


“From the masterful pen of Helen Rappaport … told in her characteristically engaging style.”

Owen Matthews, The Oldie

“Enlivening, enlightening detail is Rappaport’s fotre. Her Petrograd book is stuffed full of such anecdotes, but After the Romanovs is a worthy competitor.”

Mark Thomas, The Canberra Times

“Grippingly described … an accomplished chronicler of the last days of the royals.”

Bruce Clark, The Tablet

And an interview for the ‘A Book With Legs’ podcast

You may also like:

Cover of Ekaterinburg: the last days of the Romanovs

You can find more videos, podcasts and other media on the topic of the Romanovs, Russia & Revolution on Helen’s main page for this area of expertise HERE

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