book review

I Was Anastasia|Book Review

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Title: I Was Anastasia33998348._SY475_

Author: Ariel Lawhon

Pages: 333


Synopsis: 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. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.

Spoiler Free Review

Overview Thoughts

I saw the name Anastasia on the cover and I just knew I had to read it. I am a sucker for anything relating to the Romanov’s and more specifically Anastasia Romanov. What intrigued me even more about this book was that it mainly focused on the person who claimed to be the young Anastasia, Anna Anderson. I didn’t know a whole lot about her besides the basic facts of how she pretended to be the young grand duchess. Through this book I got to learn more about her and her story which was really interesting.


Anna. Anna Anderson is famous for the fact that she claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Many people at the time believed her while there were just as many skeptics. There are many layers to who Anna is and with each new information learned, those layers are sort of pulled back and sometimes explained. Anna is someone who has been through a lot and through it all she has remained strong. As readers we get to see her at her highs and her lows and each emotion and feeling just adds layers to who Anna is as a person which makes the story about her all the more interesting and captivating.

Anastasia. Anastasia Romanov was the youngest daughter to Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra. She was born into a life full of privilege until one day it was stripped from her. Throughout the book Anastasia remains strong and full of spirit. No matter what happens to her or her family, her spirit never extinguishes. I liked how Lawhon portrayed Anastasia and from other things I’ve read and watched she portrayed her pretty accurately.


Though the book follows two different story outlines, the plot is mainly centered around Anna Anderson and her claims to being Anastasia Romanov. It was so interesting seeing Anna through her life as she claims to be the lost duchesses. The author does such a good job of portraying the facts that I was swaying to the side that Anderson was the lost grand duchess. When looking at the historical accuracy for Anastasia, it isn’t 100% as accurate as can be. The author explains this in her authors note and her methods for it. I have to say that after reading it, I think the way she did it and why she did it worked better for the story. Had she been as accurate as she could be, I don’t think the story would of flowed as well as it did.


I think Lawhon’s writing style fitted so well with this book. Some author’s writing style just don’t work as well for certain genres and that wasn’t the case for Lawhon. When Lawhon wrote through Anna’s perspective she wrote so convincingly. Going into this book I already knew how it would end. However throughput this book and reading and learning more about Anna, I was beginning to doubt myself. I had to keep reminding myself that what I knew was true and I had to do it more often then I thought I would. My favorite part of Lawhon’s writing was at the very beginning and the end. Lawhon writes as if the real Anna Anderson is talking to the readers, even more so than the actual book itself. The way she wrote and worded it was just so well done and I absolutely loved those little letters from Anna to the readers.

One thing I didn’t like about how Lawhon wrote was how she organized Anna’s point of view.  Anna’s point of view is organized by different time periods and the events correlated with them. It was kind of confusing to keep track of everything and categorize which event was before which in the grand scheme of things.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. I think Lawhon did a really great job bringing these two stories together and intwining them. The beginning was a little slow for me to get into but as the story went on and more information was given, the story became more interesting. At the very end when everything was starting to come together I couldn’t put the book down.


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