I Was Anastasia

I Was Anastasia

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,...

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Title:I Was Anastasia
Author:Ariel Lawhon
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I Was Anastasia Reviews

  • Irene

    Brava, Ariel Lawhon, you have created a truly remarkable book--both in theme and in structure and, without revealing too much, in the amazing ending. Who wouldn't be interested in Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia? She's still an enigma and a mystery and the idea that she may have survived the massacre of the entire Romanov family is such a romantic notion.

    My mother-in-law was acquainted with Anna Anderson toward the end of her life when she was living in C

    Brava, Ariel Lawhon, you have created a truly remarkable book--both in theme and in structure and, without revealing too much, in the amazing ending. Who wouldn't be interested in Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia? She's still an enigma and a mystery and the idea that she may have survived the massacre of the entire Romanov family is such a romantic notion.

    My mother-in-law was acquainted with Anna Anderson toward the end of her life when she was living in Charlottesville, Virginia. She was convinced that Anna was indeed Anastasia. When I asked her why--she replied that Anna was so sad, so royal and that it was obvious that she'd seen any tragedies in her life. I think that my practical, no-nonsense mother-in-law, too, wanted to believe in Anastasia.

    The first-person narrative Ariel Lawhon has woven so well will thrill most readers (and anger others) but it is so well done.

  • Tracey

    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 Revolutio

    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.

  • Tracey

    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 Revolutio

    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.

  • Erin

    Find this and other reviews at:

    I Was Anastasia marks my first experience with author Ariel Lawhon. I discovered the novel while compiling The Morally Questionable Green Hat and made note of it as the premise reminded me Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986). I was familiar with the history behind the novel, but I didn’t have any real expectations when I picked it up and was more than a little surprised when the book proved almost impossible to put aside.

    L

    Find this and other reviews at:

    I Was Anastasia marks my first experience with author Ariel Lawhon. I discovered the novel while compiling The Morally Questionable Green Hat and made note of it as the premise reminded me Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986). I was familiar with the history behind the novel, but I didn’t have any real expectations when I picked it up and was more than a little surprised when the book proved almost impossible to put aside.

    Lawhon’s style and tone captured my attention from the first line and refused to release its hold till the very end of the narrative. I hate to gush, but Lawhon’s ability to convey genuine tension is nothing short of brilliant. I knew where this story was going, but I still felt real fear and desperation in the musings and movements of both her leads and loved how their emotions emanated so distinctly from the page.

    The drama of the story is enhanced by Lawhon's brazenly ambitious structuring of the narrative. Anastasia’s chapters progress chronologically, but Anna’s are inversed. The end result leaves the reader questioning if the two voices run parallel to one another or if they are in fact two parts of a singular whole. The finale itself is wonderful, but it should be understood that Lawhon was not writing about the answer so much as the question. The ambiguity of Anna’s origin and inability to definitely identify her during her lifetime immortalized Anastasia and I adore how Lawhon’s narrative plays on that reality.

    The novel incorporates great historic details, but I will admit to struggling with a handful of scenes. As much as I loved the story, I was keenly aware that certain moments were based more on rumor rather than verifiable fact and while I appreciate what those passages brought in terms of storytelling, the history buff in me couldn’t help wrinkling her nose. Lawhon’s characterization of Anastasia was also more mature and worldly than I envision her, but at the end of the day my only real comment on Lawhon’s interpretation is that it’s clear she favored Anna. I can’t presume to know why, but reading between the lines, the author seemed to have more fun with Anna’s chapters than she did Anastasia’s.

    Imaginatively tenacious and creatively composed, I Was Anastasia brings life to a mystery that captivated the world for much of the twentieth century. Highly recommended. An absolute must read.

  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    To be reviewed!

  • Debra

    "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Most people know the story of the execution/assassination of Tsar Nicholas II and the rest of the Romanov family in Elakterinburg, Russia at the hands of the Bolsheviks following the Russian revolution. Most have also heard of the woman (Anna Anderson) who claimed for years to be Anastasia Romanov and that she survived the brutal attack that claimed the lives of her family a

    "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Most people know the story of the execution/assassination of Tsar Nicholas II and the rest of the Romanov family in Elakterinburg, Russia at the hands of the Bolsheviks following the Russian revolution. Most have also heard of the woman (Anna Anderson) who claimed for years to be Anastasia Romanov and that she survived the brutal attack that claimed the lives of her family and servants. This is a clever telling of that story. The question about what whether Anastasia Romanov survived the firing squad in the basement has fascinated people for decades. Lack of DNA testing and location of a grave/burial site helped many who stepped forward to claim that she was the sole survivor. Of course, through the passing of time, DNA testing has been conducted and grave site excavations have given a clear answer.

    But as the saying goes...it's not the destination, it's the journey. Lawhon takes the reader on a unique journey using two story lines. While reading this book, readers will either enjoy or become annoyed by the storytelling. While Anastasia Romanov's story is told chronologically, the story of Anna Anderson is told in reverse. In Author's note, Ariel Lawhon states that the movie "Memento" is a favorite of hers. This style of writing also reminded me of the book "All the missing girls" which was also told in reverse.

    I found that I rather liked how she told her story. The storytelling was unique, granted, it did take me a couple of chapters to wrap my head around it. Thankfully, the chapters are labeled with the time you are reading. That is a big help! There is a lot of historical detail in this book. It is evident that the Author did a great deal of research prior to the writing of this book. History buffs may detect that Lawhon blended several characters into one (i.e. had one character be a blending of 2 real life guards of the Romanov's) in order to help the reader keep track of events and not be weighed down by too many characters.

    It is hard to say too much without giving away spoilers, but this work of historical fiction was very good. I really appreciated how she blended historical facts with fiction. If you do not know the entire history about the Romanov's family's fall from grace and the events leading up to their execution, it is laid out for you here.

    I highly recommend reading the Author's note at the end. I think this is essential. She details her research, why she blended characters, her inspiration for the reverse story telling and what lead her to write this book. I was actually deciding between a 3.5 and a 4 star rating, and then I read the Author's note and that pushed the book to a 4 star rating for me.

    I love when books cause me to think, feel and also to learn. I did learn some facts while reading this book and I found I often wanted to put the book down and think about what I had just read. Mainly because things in this book really happened. Sitting and thinking about the horrible treatment of this family (especially the girls) and what they endured -living in constant fear and dread, I can't even imagine.

    Again, interesting story-telling and a compelling read.

    Thank you to Doubleday books and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced readers copy of this book.

    See more of my reviews at

  • Wendy'sThoughts

    The main focus is on the woman known as Anna Andersen and also the Royal Family Romanov during their last months. We have Anna's story told from her perspective... a long and hard life with insights of all those around her who made her journey difficult... but also possible...

    We see how things were during all the years she was trying to receive the justice in recognition she so dearly wanted. We meet all the players...society's Grand Dames of the time who make her their house guest ...only to enjoy the notoriety...We go back in time with each important moment and see the manipulation by all... including Anna's...

    And then there is the telling of the fall of the Romanov's through Anastasia's eyes. Her love of her family and her place in it. Her ability to see what is happening before most of them. The telling of the hardships they learn to endure. The fight to hold on when everything is crashing around them....

    This story is done in such a way where you are given enough fact mixed with some of the author's admitted mixture of characters to want to know more. Anna was a hard person to feel for as Anastasia was someone to love...Yet both play off each other and in order to have the full story... this way to telling it was very unusual...It kept you wondering and so you kept reading... even though you do have much of it already in your mind...

    I shall always love the Ingrid Bergman movie...and since it and many of the books out there were made long before more information about the Romanov Family has come to light...It is safe to say... The Myth will still live on as long as those want it...

  • ☮Karen

    Remember the thriller recently written completely in a reverse timeline, and readers either tolerated it or hated it? I didn't mind it too much, once used to it. Well, in this book only half of it goes backwards in time, but it bothered me anyway. The chapters alternate between Anna Anderson's story and Anastasia's. The Anastasia chapters slowly lead up to when the Romanov family is executed in 1918, and Anna's go from 1970 to around the time of the executions. Only at the end do we know how it

    Remember the thriller recently written completely in a reverse timeline, and readers either tolerated it or hated it? I didn't mind it too much, once used to it. Well, in this book only half of it goes backwards in time, but it bothered me anyway. The chapters alternate between Anna Anderson's story and Anastasia's. The Anastasia chapters slowly lead up to when the Romanov family is executed in 1918, and Anna's go from 1970 to around the time of the executions. Only at the end do we know how it all started.

    I have been wondering... why another book on Anastasia; doesn't everyone already know this story? Have we not watched it played memorably by Ingrid Bergman in the great old film,

    , and heard the countless rumors

    of a Romanov surviving? I was curious what this author could offer that wasn't already done. For me, a few more personal details, and a renewed curiosity about Anna Anderson. This is historical fiction and the author says she fudged on some details but not much.

    All in all, I am not certain I'd recommend this one unless you do not already know the story, and even then a non-fiction might deliver better. I have enjoyed looking at some pictures of the two characters, and there was a definite facial resemblance. If this was my first time learning about the Romanovs, I am sure I would have rated it much higher. Knowing how it would end and failing to feel any real connection until the last couple of chapters sabotaged this experience for me, I'm afraid. Even so, some parts will remain memorable, I'm sure.

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy.

  • Cindy Burnett

    The story of whether Anna Anderson was actually Anastasia Romanov has fascinated me since I was young. When discoveries were made relevant to this story, I followed them closely. Naturally, I was very excited to read I Was Anastasia, and I knew how the book would turn out (I am choosing my wording carefully because I do not want to spoil the ending for those unfamiliar with the tale). While I enjoyed the book, I had significant trouble following the story as it unfolded in I Was Anastasia. Lawho

    The story of whether Anna Anderson was actually Anastasia Romanov has fascinated me since I was young. When discoveries were made relevant to this story, I followed them closely. Naturally, I was very excited to read I Was Anastasia, and I knew how the book would turn out (I am choosing my wording carefully because I do not want to spoil the ending for those unfamiliar with the tale). While I enjoyed the book, I had significant trouble following the story as it unfolded in I Was Anastasia. Lawhon chose to tell Anastasia’s story chronologically and Anna’s backwards through time making it very hard at times to understand where I was in the story. I also felt it could have been edited down a bit more.

    I Was Anastasia is clearly a labor of love for Ariel Lawhon, and her research and effort show through in her retelling of Anna Anderson and Anastasia Romanov’s stories. Thanks to Doubleday for my ARC. All opinions are my own.

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