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The Mystery of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov

This historical fiction novel explores the mystery of what became of the young Duchess Anastasia. Did she actually survive the firing squad and slaughter of the czar’s family during the Bolshevik Revolution? Could the woman that surfaced, Anna Anderson, possibly be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, the sole survivor of the imperial family?

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, February 17, 1920 A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened.

Ariel Lawton transports the reader to another time in her hsuperb and suspenseful work of historical fiction.

A century ago, in 1918, the immediate members of the Russian royal family were shot by Communist revolutionaries in the cellar of a cottage in Ekaterinburg in Siberia. It was reported that none of the Romanovs survived. Among the victims was Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II and his wife, the Empress Alexandra. However, the story did not end here.

In the following years several women came forward claiming to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia. The most well-known of these women was Anna Anderson. It is her story that Lawhon tells so masterfully.

Lawhon brilliantly tells the story of how Anastasia would become Anna Anderson and how Anna became Anastasia.

Anastasia’s story begins just 18 months before the execution. Beginning in Charlottesville, Va., in 1970 it traces her experiences back in time from America, to Paris and Berlin, where she is first recognized as Anastasia.

The story lines eventually converge on that fateful day in 1918 when the Russian royal family faced its end and the legend of the young grand duchess’ survival would begin.

It is not just the well-developed characters of Anastasia and Anna and their intriguing paths that compel the reader forward, but the novel’s rich supporting characters who span both timelines.

Two of the most notable are Anna’s champion, Gleb Botkin, a childhood acquaintance of Anastasia and son of the Romanovs’ physician, Eugene Botkin, and Pierre Gilliard, tutor to the Romanov children and one of Anna’s biggest detractors. Both have compelling arguments as to whether Anna and Anastasia are one in the same.

Lawton is a master of historical fiction. She lets the reader to come his or her own conclusion whether or not Anna is in fact Anastasia.

Masterfully plotted….A gripping and richly detailed historical novel with the pace of a thriller. – Jillian Cantor, author of Margot and the The Lost Letter

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