I have always been a huge advocate for finishing every book you start. But the older I get the more I start to waffle on this stance thinking, “eh, life is too short, if you can’t get into it then it’s not for you”. This novel, I seriously almost gave up on, and WHAT a travesty that would have been! I am not exaggerating when I say that one page made the whole book. Literally, one page, the very last page, was everything I needed to feel totally satisfied. It was the proverbial cherry on top, the shiny bow, icing on the cake.
If you have a penchant for historical fiction, the Romanovs, or mystery then I would highly recommend Ariel Lawhon’s I Was Anastasia. The tale is told as a parallel unfolding of a beginning and an end. We are introduced to both Anastasia Romanov and Anna Anderson, two different women or one in the same? Anna’s story is told from end to beginning while Anastasia’s story is told from beginning to end – a little confusing with a lot of bouncing around. Hence the reason I nearly gave up on this book. I read for pleasure, I’m not trying to actively seek out the plot sequence, but eventually you find the flow.
The story traces the tragic events occurring in 1918 when the entire Romanov family was executed by firing squad. There were no survivors. Or were there? Enter Anna Anderson, a mysterious woman bearing a striking resemblance to the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov. Anna was a real woman in history that came forward claiming that she was the Russian Princess and had survived the execution.
Page by page we witness the realities that the imperial family faced leading up to their deaths. We discover their humanity and get a glimpse at what it would have been like to be a prisoner during the war. Equally, we observe the plight to prove the true identity of Anna Anderson and watch both stories unfold and ultimately intersect.
I would not say that Anna is a likeable character, but you will find yourself rooting for her nonetheless. The story is dense and emotional, but push through! I promise that the satisfaction of that very last page makes it all worth it.