I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

First off, HUGE thanks to Sarah at DoubleDay books for sending out an ARC for me to read in advance and THEN sending me a finished copy!!! Seriously, book people are the best people and this finished copy is just as gorgeous as the shiny ARC I carried around with me for a straight week.

When I first read about I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon, I knew I had to read it. As a lover of the cartoon movie and the soundtrack *SO GOOD* when I was little and then of course, knowing the fates of the Romanov family and the role Rasputin really played in their lives I have always been curious to learn more. It is one of those stories in history that is compelling and tragic and ends in a way that begs for hope, that the fate of the Romanov family was somehow not what it was.

I think what made my reading of this story so special was that I didn't know anything about the real Anna Anderson prior to my reading. And once I began, I didn't allow myself to research anything (sometimes while reading historical fiction I will look up places or events to give myself a frame of reference).
What I truly loved most about I Was Anastasia was how unique the reading experience was. We meet Anastasia as a young girl in the year leading up to the family's banishment to Siberia. We also meet, simultaneouly, Anna Anderson at the age of seventy. While Anastasia's story works forward in time, Anna Anderson's works backwards. Bits of her story line were confusing because of this, but only slightly. I quickly found myself caught up in both stories, wondering how and where (and if!) they would come together in the end. As both narratives played out, I also found myself building more and more hope for Anastasia and the woman that was Anna Anderson....despite everything my rational brain was trying to tell me. The evidence of a brilliant story teller, one who can make you dismiss rational thought/knowledge and hold out for hope!

 In the end, this story left me a little bit hurt if I am being honest. Without giving anything away, I gasped out loud when I turned that final page. And then instantly thought what a remarkable writer Lawhon is to have carried me on this wave of emotions for the entire book only to leave me at that final page, desperate and wondering what just happened but LOVING the whole story just the same.

Well done, Lawhon. I am recommending this book to EVERYONE that I meet. Strangers too. Really anyone that will listen.


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