Title: I Was Anastasia
Author: Ariel Lawhon
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2018Goodreads
I must admit before reading this I did not know much about Russian history or the Romanovs. I remember learning about the youngest child, Alexei, in my genetics class because he was a hemophiliac, which made him the perfect case study. I also remember hearing that the entire family had been executed, but never really knew the story. When I came across this on NetGalley I was intrigued to learn more about this story given my of lack in knowledge in this subject and my love of historical fiction.
By 1918 the Czar of Russia had been removed from his throne and his family had been forced into exile. In the early hours of the morning the family was awoken to be moved to a safer location, so they are told, only be lead to the basement and executed. None of the seven family members survived the night, or so history has told us.
In 1920 a woman appeared in Berlin with an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia, the youngest of the Czar’s daughters, claiming to be her. Is it possible that she survived the execution, or this is an imposter trying to claim the imperial riches?
This story is told using both dual perspective and dual timelines in alternating sections. First, we witness what happens to the royal family leading up to their execution through the eyes of Anastasia. Finally, we follow Anna Anderson, the woman claiming to be Anastasia, beginning in 1968 and working our way back to 1918. We trace her steps in reverse until in the end we finally reveal where her story truly begins.
I really enjoyed this delivery method by Lawhon, one that I have not encountered before. I enjoyed that both storylines were working together towards the same ending point. One reason I love historical fiction so much is that I like to feel that I have learned something new by the end of the book as well as being entertained. This book feels like a great balance of being very well researched and still being very entertaining at the same time.
This is my first historical fiction read outside the WWII genre and I would highly recommend it! I will caution that there are some difficult to read moments including sexual assault and violence, but worth the read.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.