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

  • Susan Meissner

    I adored this book. It was cleverly constructed, expertly researched, deeply moving and I couldn't wait to get to it at the end of the day, which is when I read for pleasure. Highly recommend, folks.

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    Being approved to read an early copy of I Was Anastasia was like winning the lottery to this historical fiction fan. Not only because of my love for the genre, but also because of my interest in Anastasia. Not because she was a princess necessarily, but because growing up I remember discussions about Anna Anderson and if she was or was not the real Anastasia Romanov.

    Ariel Lawhon ambitiously tackles this notion in a genius structure through writing

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    Being approved to read an early copy of I Was Anastasia was like winning the lottery to this historical fiction fan. Not only because of my love for the genre, but also because of my interest in Anastasia. Not because she was a princess necessarily, but because growing up I remember discussions about Anna Anderson and if she was or was not the real Anastasia Romanov.

    Ariel Lawhon ambitiously tackles this notion in a genius structure through writing from two viewpoints in different timelines, Anastasia’s in forward-progression, and Anna’s in reverse.

    In the Author’s Note, Lawhon describes that it was challenging to write this way, and I kept thinking that as I read. She even read biographies of Anna Anderson in reverse order so that she would formulate it in her head the way she would eventually write Anna’s voice.

    It would have been easier to write in linear form, and perhaps easier for the reader to follow; but I enjoyed this convergence in storylines. It built the suspense for me. Even though I already knew the true outcome, I longed for a different one as I quickly read through this book waiting for the timelines to intersect, waiting for the answer Lawhon would write.

    Reading the Author’s Note also inspired me to dig deeper into Romanov history. I have a nonfiction book she cited as a reference,

    , and plan to read it soon to learn more.

    Thank you to Ariel Lawhon, Doubleday, and Netgalley for the ARC. I Was Anastasia is available now!

  • Bam

    I admit to being endlessly fascinated with Romanov family history and with the woman who claimed to be Anastasia. So apparently is Ariel Lawhon, as she weaves together both those stories in her latest work of historical fiction: one, about the last tragic eighteen months of the Romanov family's lives told through the eyes of their youngest daughter and the second, about Anna Anderson who claimed to be Anastasia. Anna's story is told backwards chronologically--beginning with her last court case i

    I admit to being endlessly fascinated with Romanov family history and with the woman who claimed to be Anastasia. So apparently is Ariel Lawhon, as she weaves together both those stories in her latest work of historical fiction: one, about the last tragic eighteen months of the Romanov family's lives told through the eyes of their youngest daughter and the second, about Anna Anderson who claimed to be Anastasia. Anna's story is told backwards chronologically--beginning with her last court case in 1970 and then regressing back through time (what happened before that, and before that and so on). Eventually the two stories come together and the reader sees why the author chose to tell her story in this manner.

    It worked for me. I know a lot of readers have abandoned the book because of this frustrating chronological structure, which keeps the reader off balance, making it hard to grasp the plot and remember names and places. But my advice is to stick with it: it does get easier to understand and there's a payoff at the end.

    Ariel Lawhon has done some fine writing here. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with both Annas! This book may launch me on another Russian literature craze!

    Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher Doubleday for granting me the opportunity to read an arc of this fascinating new book.

  • 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

  • Angela M

    3.5 stars

    3.5 stars

  • 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.

  • Tammy

    Those unfamiliar with the Anastasia Romanov/Anna Anderson story will find much to like in this fictional novel. It’s an effective introduction to the bizarre controversy surrounding two historical people. My experience was a bit different. As others have mentioned, Anastasia’s story is told chronologically while Anna’s story is told in reverse order. Given that this is well worn material, I understand that the author chose this structure for dramatic effect. However, I found it to be a contrivan

    Those unfamiliar with the Anastasia Romanov/Anna Anderson story will find much to like in this fictional novel. It’s an effective introduction to the bizarre controversy surrounding two historical people. My experience was a bit different. As others have mentioned, Anastasia’s story is told chronologically while Anna’s story is told in reverse order. Given that this is well worn material, I understand that the author chose this structure for dramatic effect. However, I found it to be a contrivance that was more annoying than dramatic. Characters carry on conversations and you don’t find out until one or more chapters afterwards who some of these characters are which blurs the meaning of the initial conversations. And then there are the characterizations which left me cold and I mean the kind of frigidity that one would find in, say, Siberia. Granted, I was Anastasia is about the Anastasia/Anna dispute but I have read other historical fiction that has handled the questions surrounding the violent tragedy of July 1917 deftly. If upon reading this book you find that you are interested in the Romanov Dynasty, I would recommend anything written by Robert K. Massie. His narrative biographies are accessible and thorough providing the socio-political background necessary to understand why events happened as they did. Not a bad read but it didn't make me want to do cartwheels either.

  • Crumb

    This book, for me, was mediocre. The history behind this story was fascinating, but the way the story was executed, was ill-conceived. There were two alternating story lines that were asynchronous to one another, which made for a pretty confusing reading experience. However, with all that being said, I still really enjoyed the story and the history.

    This novel chronicled the final days of the Romanov family, shining a light on Anastasia. Did she die in Ekaterinburg with the rest of her family or

    This book, for me, was mediocre. The history behind this story was fascinating, but the way the story was executed, was ill-conceived. There were two alternating story lines that were asynchronous to one another, which made for a pretty confusing reading experience. However, with all that being said, I still really enjoyed the story and the history.

    This novel chronicled the final days of the Romanov family, shining a light on Anastasia. Did she die in Ekaterinburg with the rest of her family or didn't she? That is what the author wants the reader to decide.

    The other story follows a woman claiming to be Anastasia, who goes by Anna Anderson.

    If you are interested in Russian history, I definitely think you would like this book. I liked the story..I did. I just thought it could have been

    . Written

    . Told

    ..

    Like Shania Twain says.. "That Don't Impress Me Much"

  • Diane S ☔

    3.5 I am fairly familiar with the last days of the Romanovs, having read a few non fiction books about the subject. The woman who appears and tries to prove that she is a Romanovs daughter Anastasia, I was less familiar. In alternating chapters we follow both stories. The one of the Romanovs imprisonmrnt and eventually murder is written in a linear timeline, the story of Anna is told backwards in time, even within the same Chapter, we go backwards.

    I did like learning more about the girls persona

    3.5 I am fairly familiar with the last days of the Romanovs, having read a few non fiction books about the subject. The woman who appears and tries to prove that she is a Romanovs daughter Anastasia, I was less familiar. In alternating chapters we follow both stories. The one of the Romanovs imprisonmrnt and eventually murder is written in a linear timeline, the story of Anna is told backwards in time, even within the same Chapter, we go backwards.

    I did like learning more about the girls personalities, though of course the focus is on Anastasia. They went through some terrible things, even more so because they had such a protected upbringing. Quite heartbreaking that the children were blamed for their parents mistakes. The part with Anna was also told well, but I found because of the way it was written, sometimes confusing.

    A great deal of research went into this novel, and the author explains in her authors note what that entailed and what she changed to make the story flow better. She also explains why she wrote it the way she did. I enjoyed this for the most part, but though I read why she wrote it this way, I still found myself liking those sections less.

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