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Anastasia's Secret

Anastasia's Secret

4.4 29
by Susanne Dunlap

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When Princess Anastasia Romanov's life is torn apart by revolution, she and her family are exiled to Siberia. As their captivity stretches out, the threat of death by firing squad grows stronger. But despite the menacing circumstances, a secret romance blossoms between Anastasia and a young guard named Sasha. Will their love prove strong enough to help Anastasia


When Princess Anastasia Romanov's life is torn apart by revolution, she and her family are exiled to Siberia. As their captivity stretches out, the threat of death by firing squad grows stronger. But despite the menacing circumstances, a secret romance blossoms between Anastasia and a young guard named Sasha. Will their love prove strong enough to help Anastasia and her family? Inspired by the mysteries surrounding the Romanovs, this is a compelling and romantic vision of what might have been.

"[This] magnetic reimagining of Anastasia's story has the potential to reach a broad audience." -Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Amanda MacGregor
Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, daughter of Tsar Nicholas, has led a sheltered and carefree life. As the youngest daughter of the Russian emperor, Anastasia's role in the family is to be whimsical and childlike. When she is twelve, she meets Sasha, a young guard who is honest with Anastasia about life and conditions beyond the palace walls. Sasha stays on Anastasia's mind and they reconnect when Sasha, now an officer in the army, is wounded in the war. While their relationship thrives in secret, Anastasia's family suffers great changes. Her mother is accused of being a German spy and her father is forced to step down, leaving Russia with no tsar. As a new government replaces the Romanov rule, Sasha manages to get a position guarding the palace in hopes of saving Anastasia and her family. At great risk, they continue to meet in secret. Even after the Romanovs are moved to Siberia and imprisoned there, Sasha continues to stay near the family and tries to help them. When the Bolsheviks seize control, the future of the Romanovs is decidedly bleak, and even Sasha's best efforts may not be enough to save them all. For anyone with an interest in Russian history, this fictional look at Anastasia's life might hold their attention. For others, they may find it tedious and confusing. It is assumed that the reader knows something of Russian history right from the beginning, though Dunlap thoroughly explains all of the events and consequences as they unfold in the story. A huge cast of characters (most confusingly referred to both by their formal names and their nicknames), whose roles are not always distinct, clutter the already dense text. An epilogue details the fate of the Romanovs, in 1918, after the novel leaves off. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
VOYA - Beth Karpas
When the author of an historical fiction novel about a real, well-known person can make you spend three hundred-plus pages wishing that the ending will change, you know she has done a good job. This is exactly what Susanne Dunlap has done with the life of Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia. Sticking as closely as possible to the facts known from first-person accounts and official records, Dunlap writes the story of Anastasia's adolescence until her inevitable trip to Yekaterinberg, where she likely died at age seventeen. Dunlap uses the gray areas and unrecorded parts of Anastasia's life to create a fictional guard, Sasha, with whom Anastasia experiences love, both physical and emotional, and who offers her the chance for freedom. The hallmark of a good author is to make you care for the characters, and while some of the supporting characters are not as thoroughly depicted, this first-person account makes the reader care for and identify with Anastasia. It leaves the reader hoping that somehow the real history explained in the afterward is not real. A detailed cast of characters, real and fictional, at the beginning of this book, and the epilogue dividing fact from fiction, are icing on the cake for this fabulous historical novel. Reviewer: Beth Karpas
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Dunlap's novel combines life in imperial Russia during World War I and young love. Anastasia encounters an adolescent royal guard named Sasha, and the two become friends and lovers. The guard educates her on life outside of the palace walls, and, through Anastasia, Sasha sees the humanity of the royal family. The writing is quite atmospheric, providing a sense of the physical, political, and historical environment at the time. It also conveys an incredible amount of detail about the Romanovs' daily lives before and during their captivity, humanizing even the tsar and tsarista. The author articulates the emotions of the characters well, and Anastasia grows from a naive duchess to a young woman attuned to the social and political situation of the day. The romantic relationship, which is consummated and continues while the family is under house arrest, is less believable given the security surrounding the royals. A list of the family members, primary servants, and head guards precedes the story. Dunlap also provides an epilogue that details the conclusion of the Romanov dynasty.—Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY
Publishers Weekly
Anastasia Romanov lives a charmed childhood—her father is the czar of Russia and she is one of its grand duchesses. She grows up among the aristocracy, and elaborate palaces are her and her many siblings’ playgrounds. However, those familiar with Russian history also know that her family is quickly heading toward its demise. Dunlap (The Musician’s Daughter) steps boldly into this famous historical narrative, envisioning another possible future for Anastasia—one that includes a handsome suitor-soldier named Sasha, who falls in love with Anastasia and hopes to save her from the doom awaiting her family. The author’s prose is heavy on telling, largely because she packs it with an impressive amount of Romanov and Russian history. The romantic dimension of this novel sparkles when it appears and Dunlap’s treatment of Anastasia’s family is full and tender, but as the years pass and revolution appears on the horizon, the story grows expectedly bleak. Dunlap persuasively inhabits the thoughts and emotions of her embattled protagonist; her magnetic reimagining of Anastasia’s story has the potential to reach a broad audience. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
What if Grand Duchess Anastasia had a secret lover among the guards who watched over the Romanovs? That conceit provides the arc, such as it is, for this first-person account of the last years of the Russian monarchy. This Anastasia is an immature, sweet and spoiled innocent whose world revolves around her family, all of whom can be summed up in one or two flattening adjectives (sensible, kindly, sickly). The romance between Anastasia and Sasha-who manages to go from the youngest imperial guard to a commander of Bolshevik troops, making his character even more obviously fictional-will appeal to romantics, but Anastasia's naivete (late in the book she is startled to realize "a loaf of bread had a fixed price") grates and detracts from the sympathy a doomed heroine should command. Even a near escape has no excitement as the ending is a matter of historical record (neatly laid out in an epilogue, which also references the 2007 grave and the various false Romanovs). Anastasia has never been so dull. (cast of characters, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Susanne Dunlap graduated from Smith College and later earned a PhD in music hiatory from Yale University. She has taught music history at the college level, and is the author of two historical novels for adults. The Musician's Daughter was her first novel for young readers.


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Anastasia's Secret 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was incredibly easy to read. I got through it in a day. The plot is beautifully thought out. I recommend this book to anyone who loves this part of history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book and I loved it dearly. Not for children under 10 years of age.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read book in two days well because i was busy plus i love this book i couldnt stop reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't read this book, but my sister did and she said it had a seen where Sasha touch and kissed Anastasia on a pantry floor :/ not appropriate for younger children
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent historical fiction book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well......this book was well written and fun in parts. But their was a implied sex scene that was not needed and would have been a good book without it. I am not sure what thee author was thinking. I like anastasias character and the book is pretty accuet* *i did not spell that right
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Macz More than 1 year ago
I cryed when i read this book. It is truly wonderful. the whole secret romance between Anastasia and Sasha was beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ivy16 More than 1 year ago
this was a great book i dont know if i liked the ending but i understond why it end that way so it all good i love the romance in it great job
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Anastasia Romanov may be royalty, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have problems. Her brother, Alexei, is dealing with the life-threatening disease of hemophilia, which has no known cure. Her older sisters are dealing with the likes of men and society, while she's stuck in a time-warp of 'little girl' proportions. Tsar Nicholas the Second, her father, is worrying about a revolution going on in Russia, all the while watching his wife become entranced by the workings of 'holy man' Grigory Rusputin. Behind the scenes, a friendship with a soldier named Sasha also threatens to shatter the fragile piece of the family.... And then war is imminent. Battle lines are drawn, and the people of Russia are ready to take up arms. Sasha and Anastasia's relationship, which is barely able to be kept, is laced with feelings of something more. Grigory's influence on Alexandra and her son, Alexei, is growing tighter, and the governing of the country is becoming harder and harder to maintain. How is a girl supposed to grow up knowing the harshness of war, when she only knows what goes on in her own little world of royalty? The characters that make up the pages of a historical novel are the hardest part to work out. History shows us a factual face, personal accounts give us a general personality, and rarely, we have diaries or journals that show the true mind of the figure. Anastasia had the first two down, and thus she's been pictured as a tom-boy with a lot of spunk and a mindset unlike the rest of her family. I always loved her general personality, and thus I'm really picky about how people depict her. Dunlap gives her a fresh face, keeping her rambunctious attitude and coupling it with the thought processes of a teenage girl on the brink of adulthood when she just isn't ready for it. The depth showed great apt for characterization. Anastasia constantly worries about things that we all can relate to, such as her relationship with Sasha, and things that we can never imagine, like the Bolshevik uprising in Russia. Her family is also depicted stunningly, with great personalities that are flexible yet true to what history tells us. Sasha didn't appear much, which disheartened me. His whole relationship with Anastasia was pretty thread-bare compared to the rest of the story. It was marketed as being more of a love story, so I felt cheated in that respect. The various servants and such also got confusing, but they were interchangeable, and more for historical accuracy than for characterization. Plot and historical accuracy are also important. Being an Anastasia fan-boy, I naturally had an above-basic knowledge of what went on with the Romanovs, and I was immensely pleased to see a ton of historical fact and care used in the novel. Basic facts were there (i.e. the Romanov's various pets, the political cartoons about Rusputin and the Romanov women), but she got everything down to the time of events(though Dunlap admitted to lightly moving some around to fit the character's needs, which was understood). The plot moved fast for me, and the interest in what would happen with Sasha and with Anastasia's handling of the war kept me going strong, though I could see how a reader less history-minded would get bored at some intervals... Read the full review at www.teensreadtoo.com
HSHale More than 1 year ago
Anastasia's Secret wasn't really happy but it was perfect anyway. The book was believable and emotional. First person of Anastasia was really great as the grand duchess's life slowly gets worse and worse. From living a pretty easy life to being held prisinor in her own home, Anastasia and the people around her remain realistic. I love how the author added in Sashsa for a romantic element. All around Anastasia's Secret was a wonderful historical fiction, but don't expect a happy ending.
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Book_Girl14 More than 1 year ago
I loved Susanne Emily Dunlap's first teen novel so I had to read her new one. This book has a great romance that has the reader feeling too. This book doesn't suger coat Anastasia's toching story. I really liked this book it filled you with so many emotions. Each charactor was so believeable and just made you ache when you got to the eprologe. I didn't want the story to end and wish that the Romanova family could have been saved from their teribble fate. I really loved this book and will deffinetly read it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago