Title: I was Anastasia
By: Ariel Lawhon
Call #: Fic Lawhon
In 1918, the former Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and his 5 children: Olga, Tatiana, Marie, Anastasia and Alexis were brutally murdered by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. Their bodies were hidden after the murder, which led to speculation that one or more of them may have escaped the massacre. From 1922 until the 1970s, one woman, Anna Anderson, made the world believe that she was the Grand Duchess Anastasia.
Told through alternating points of view, I was Anastasia tells both Anastasia’s story and that of Anna Anderson. Anastasia’s story details her time under house arrest before being moved to exile in Siberia and then to brought to Ekaterinburg where they were executed. Her story is not just the imprisonment and terror but about family, hope, and even a little romance. Anna’s story is told from 1970 to 1918 – in reverse to the point that Anastasia’s story ends. Her side is a mix of people who believe her and those who try to prove she couldn’t possibly be Anastasia. It is a sad tale of someone just trying to belong in a world with more enemies than friends.
In 2007 the bodies of the former Tsar and his family were discovered and through DNA testing, it was proven that all members of the family had perished in 1918. Even though readers know that Anna Anderson is not Anastasia, the way the story is told still leaves you questioning if just maybe it isn’t so. While backwards storytelling creates a bit of confusion as events not yet revealed are mentioned, it also builds the mystery and intrigue into how everything fits together. The style really works for the novel and Lawhon has written a wonderful book that brings these two stories to life.
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