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I Was Anastasia: A Novel by Ariel Lawhon

I Was Anastasia: A Novel (2018)

by Ariel Lawhon

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12821132,905 (3.67)3



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This book put me off at first, and I was having a little difficulty getting into it. The non-linear timeframe was confusing as well, but after reading the book and reading the author's "Afterword", I realize that this story could only be told in this way. Anastasia Romanov's story has always been immortalized, and it has always been a big question as to whether or not she made it through the massacre in the basement in Yekaterinburg on July 17, 1918. There were women who did try to impersonate her after the massacre, of whom Anna Anderson was one. The book is two separate storylines. The linear one of Anastasia for the 18 months leading up to the massacre. Her story begins immediately after the February 1917, revolution. through their imprisonment at the Alexander Palace before they were moved Tobolsk, and then Yekaterinberg. The story of Anna Anderson works backwards from 1945 to 1918. These two separate storylines are woven together throughout the book. As I read, I found it helped me keep things straight if I made special notes of the dates at the beginning of each chapter. Ariel Lawhon has done a remarkable job of retelling both of these stories by using historical data and historical figures from this time. After I finished, I had to sit back and think and I decided that the book is truly remarkable. It is historical fiction at its very best. If you are interested to read it, give the book a chance and let its magic wow you, and let it draw you into early twentieth century Russia. ( )
  Romonko | Aug 11, 2018 |
WOW! Just, a 5 stars WOW!

A big Thank you goes out to Netgalley/Doubleday Publishing and the author Ariel Lawhon for an advanced ebook copy.

“Am I truly Anastasia Romanov? A beloved daughter. A revered icon. A Russian grand duchess.”

This book was just exquisite! When I was around 12 years old I became interested in the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia/Anna Anderson story. And just young enough and romantic enough to believe Anna was truly the Grand Duchess and survived the Revolution. But, like most young dreams and fantasies it was not to be.

I’m honestly having a hard time with this review because there are no words that would adequately describe this book. The Anna Anderson timeline itself starts in the present and works backwards with parts of Anastasia's life woven in which is going forward. And this was absolutely brilliant! I loved how the author gave us descriptions of the Romanov’s days as captives, I don’t ever remember reading details quite like this before. I knew how the ending was going to be, but I was still tense and anxious like this was my first reading of the Tsar family story. Then Ariel gifts us with this awesome last chapter followed by an internal dialogue of Anna Anderson, which was very astute. And then follows that with the best Author’s note ever.

I am sure most if not all know the ending to this story, I say, Read. It. Anyway. This book has become my favorite historical read of 2017! And that book cover is my absolute favorite, ever! Gorgeous! Ariel Lawhon you have found a forever fan. ( )
  TraceyTurnsThePage2 | Jul 23, 2018 |
I've always been fascinated by the Romanovs and, like many others, have been intrigued by the possibility of Anastasia's survival. This is one of the first novels which deals with this portion of the Romanov story head on, and keeps the reader wondering and hoping until the last page. It may not have provided the ending I wished for, but it did have an ending that lays clear why the story of Anastasia and Anna Anderson has intrigued and fascinated so many. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jul 5, 2018 |
I had a really difficult time getting into this one. I was intrigued by the Romanov story but found most of the Anna story very slow going. Just did not resonate with me. ( )
  Thelmajean | May 30, 2018 |
I am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon is a 2018 Doubleday publication.

No matter how many movies, documentaries, or books I’ve watched or read, the romantic in me simply can’t resist the fascination and the mystery of Anastasia Romanov. This book examines the life of Anna Anderson, who claimed she was Anastasia, while also chronicling the period of time the Romanov’s were in exile, leading up to their execution during the Bolshevik Revolution.

Anna’s claims captured our imaginations for decades and sparked many debates over the legitimacy of her pronouncement. While she was often met with skepticism, she also had many staunch supporters.
I, for one, always loved the notion surrounding this legend. I hoped, no matter how far-fetched or doubtful the probability, that Anna Anderson really was Anastasia Romanov.

If a miracle did happen, and Anastasia somehow managed to survive, we could all rationalize our fascination with the Czar’s daughter, from Ingrid Bergman’s oscar winning portrayal, to the animated Disney film, and all points in between. But, of course, the reality is far more serious and grim.

This novel is obviously a very ambitious undertaking. Giving voice to Anastasia, and Anna Anderson, describing minute historical details, adding authentic and vivid dialogue, along with solid pacing, and well-drawn characterizations.

This story is very interesting, and the author certainly did her homework, doing a great job of laying out Anna’s complexities. Anna was difficult, but also lived with a host of mental issues, making her a sympathetic figure on occasion, which left me with conflicting emotions. I often wondered how other people who have read this book felt about her in the end.

However, I must address the elephant in the room when it comes to the way the author structured the novel. She explains the method to her madness in a note at the end of the book, and it does make sense, from the viewpoint of the writer, and logically, I see where she’s coming from. However, the backwards/forwards, first and third person narratives made the book more difficult to read than need be, in my opinion. I did struggle with the format, I must say. However, others may not be bothered by it at all, and may even benefit from it. I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed, so there is that. However, I did agree with the concept of separating ‘Anastasia’ from ‘Anna’, but I did wish for a more traditional type of dual timeline, without all that skipping around.

The novel’s strongest area is the pacing and the agonizingly taut build -up of suspense. We must watch with mounting dread as the Romanov’s are taken to Siberia, the clock ticking away as they careen towards their ultimate, tragic fate. This part of the story is interwoven with Anna’s as she sits in a German court waiting on their decision, hoping she will at long last lay legitimate and official claim to the name ‘Anastasia Romanov’. The theories mapped out here are very imaginative, plausible, realistic and thought provoking. I can tell the author put a great deal of thought and time into this novel, which is much appreciated. Although it took me a long time to get through the book, really struggling with it at times, ultimately, I found it to be quite interesting and I’m glad I didn’t give up on it.

One point I think we can all agree on, no matter what, is that Anna’s claims turned Anastasia Romanov into a legend, taking on a life of its own. If not for her, Anastasia and her sisters would most likely have long been forgotten over time, along with other royal families who were met with the same fate. Just a little something to ponder over-

I do recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Romanov history, of course, but be prepared- this is not a fairy tale! I would also recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction in general. This book will most likely spark your curiosity about the Romanov family and you will want to learn more about this them, and the events leading up to their capture, exile, and murders. ( )
  gpangel | May 24, 2018 |
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"A dual narrative exploring the mystery surrounding the death of Anastasia Romanov and the claims of Anna Anderson, the woman long-believed to be the young Grand Duchess' most famous imposter"--

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