I Was Anastasia
by Ariel Lawhon
My rating: 5 stars
Publisher: Doubleday (March 27, 2018)
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Print Length: 344 pages
Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.
Russia, July 17, 1918: Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.
Germany, February 17, 1920: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water or even acknowledge her rescuers, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious young woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess.
As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre at Ekaterinburg, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a narrative that is equal parts The Talented Mr. Ripley and Memento, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling saga is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
After the entire Romanov family was brutally slaughtered by a drunken firing squad, the family’s bodies were spirited away, hidden from the world. When all seven bodies could not be accounted for, the rumors began, and a young woman became the vortex of decades of guesswork. Was Anna Anderson really Anastasia Romanov? Is it possible she survived the slaughter of 1918 only to have an attempted suicide thwarted when she was fished form a frigid canal? Is this woman fitting the basic description of Anastasia and carrying the scars of wounds inflicted by both bullets and blades more than an opportunist seeking fame, fortune and the family treasures? Is she a delusional lost soul clinging to a fantasy that would make her life so much more meaningful? Was she like a leopard trying to change its spots?
Ariel Lawhon’s I WAS ANASTASIA is a brilliantly complex and tumultuous tale of possibilities, with questions that can never be answered, of facts that are sketchy and suspect at best. One thing for sure, Ms. Lawhon’s two-pronged tale is fascinating, intriguing and very hard to put down!
Anastasia’s final days are laid out in a linear fashion, from her life at the palace to her life in a foreboding Siberian home where her pampered family was forced to become common-folk, doing common labor to survive. Anastasia is presented as a strong young woman, adaptable to the circumstances of her family’s new existence. Just reaching an age where young love can bloom, only to have her life stolen away.
Anna’s tale is much different as we meet an older Anna, still fighting to be recognized as Anastasia. Believers believed in her, or at least in her entertainment value. Benefactors were more than willing to champion her cause through court after court, continent after continent. We will see her life unfold in reverse until we reach the final truth of a woman who felt she deserved the life she was denied.
Fabulous reading, dark, detailed, gritty and magnetic. Regardless of the outcome, regardless of what history has proven, Ms. Lawhon’s version is spellbinding from start to finish and her treatment of each character reflects the chaos each one lived through, factual or manufactured.
I received a complimentary ARC edition from Doubleday Books!