I Was Anastasia

I Was Anastasia

by Ariel Lawhon


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385541695
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/27/2018
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 58,453
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

ARIEL LAWHON is a critically acclaimed author of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, four sons, black Lab, and a deranged cat. She splits her time between the grocery store and the baseball field.

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Excerpted from "I Was Anastasia"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Ariel Lawhon.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide



These discussion questions are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon.

1. I Was Anastasia is an unusually structured novel that moves backward and forward in time. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story in this way?

2. When we first meet Anna Anderson, she is not an easy character to like. As you learned more about her past, did your opinion of her change?

3. How do you interpret Anna’s hoarding tendencies, especially with regard to animals?

4. Anna’s story is told in the third person; Anastasia’s story in the first person. What are your thoughts on the different points of view? Which did you prefer?

5. People often think of Anastasia Romanov in terms of the 1997 animated film. Yet this book does not portray her as a typical Disney princess. Were you glad to see a different side to this historic figure? Or did it bother you?

6. The bombing of Hannover (October 8, 1943) is a dramatic and terrifying scene in the book. Do you think you could display the same level of resilience if you were in Anna’s shoes?

7. The longer the Romanovs were in captivity, the smaller their world became, until they were confined to a handful of rooms. They each handled the boredom and oppression differently. What would you have done in their situation?

8. Do your thoughts about Anna’s identity shift as the novel progresses? Does she become more (or less) believable as we travel back in time with her?

9. Did reading this novel inspire you to find out more about the Romanovs?

10. The Romanovs are not the only royal family to come to a tragic end, yet their story endures as few have. What do you think contributes to the timeless fascination—that of Anastasia in particular?

11. Discuss the ending of the novel. How did it affect your feelings about the novel as a whole?

12. Did the Author’s Note change your opinion about the ending?

Customer Reviews

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I Was Anastasia 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have had a lifelong fascination with Anastasia Romanov and being half Russian always added to my interest. I think I have read almost every book ever written about the Romanov family both fiction and non fiction. I have always preferred fiction to fact anyway. When I first heard of Anna Anderson the romantic that I am really believed she was Anastasia and when DNA tests proved otherwise I was disappointed. But of all the things I have read this novel is by far the best. Five stars is not enough. I can not say too much because I do not want to spoil it for you. I want you to read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MaraBlaise More than 1 year ago
You might have heard about Anna Anderson and her claim (to fame) to be Anastasia Romanov. But, if you haven't, then I suggest you google her and read up on her life. Anna Anderson's life was very interesting and it has btw been made into a movie with Ingrid Bergman and a miniseries with Amy Irving. I've seen both since I find the Romanov's a captivated subject. I was curious to see how of Ariel Lawhon would construct the story since much has happened since Anna Anderson died in 1984. Now I take for granted that you know all about that, but if you don't know, then I will spoil the story a bit. Or rather I will reveal some truth's that may or may not be included in this book. So, read on if you dare! Since Anna Anderson died in 1984 has two things happened, for one thing, has DNA showed that she was not Anastasia, and also the graves of the Romanov's family has been found with the bones of ALL the children. So, how do you write a book when this is well-known? Easy, you make the both Anna and Anastasia's stories so believable that you want it to be true. All through the book does Anastasia's story interlopes with Anna's. We get to follow Anastasia through the years in captivity while Anna's story we get from the end unto the beginning. And, Anna's chapters. It's like reading a book backward. But, it works. It's very different, but it works so well. It's like two cars moving towards each other and you know they will crash, but you can't stop them! I Was Anastasia is a great book. Reading the author's note at the end, where she wrote about wanting to believe that the story would be true made me realize that she made me want to believe that it's true that Anna was Anastasia. Because deep down we all want the story to have a happy ending...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The constant shifting in the timeline of the story confused me at times. Anna’s timeline is all over the place and I would have preferred to have hers go chronologically like Anastasia’s. I really liked Anastasia’s POV but couldn’t get into Anna’s. This book re-sparked my interest in the Romanovs and now I need to go read some NF books about them.
Fredreeca2001 More than 1 year ago
Anna is a miserable woman. She is scarred, lost, depressed and damaged in more ways than one. Is she who she says she is? She claims to be Anastasia Romanov. Is she? You need to read this to find out! I love the history of this book. It has been a while since I visited with the Romanovs. This was a highlight for me but, parts of this novel are so hard to read. The tragedy surrounding the Romanovs’ lives and their deaths are heart wrenching. The only reason this is not getting five stars from me is because of the time line. It is non linear. This made the story more confusing but, that was the brilliant plan of the author. To keep you off balance, which you will realize when you get to the end of the book. Their is a reason she wants you off balance. All in all, I enjoyed this book very much. Anna, the Romanovs, and the history really create a wonderful tale. I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review.
SecondRunReviews More than 1 year ago
As readers move through the novel, they may feel torn -- longing for the tragedy that befalls Anastasia and her family to not happen and an urgency for Anna’s lie to be put to bed and end quickly. This dissonance doesn’t play well and causes the novel to drag most of its 300 pages especially during Anna’s chapters which come across as brash and uncaring until the start of her story is reached.
The_Dwarf_Did_It More than 1 year ago
This book was fantastic. I requested this book because I have always been interested the Romanov's. This story was written in two time lines: the point of view of Anna moving backwards and the point of view Anastasia moving forward until the very last page where they meet in the middle and we find out the truth..... What happened to Anastasia and is Anna REALLY a Romanov. This story was tragic. Some of the content was hard to read simply because of the subject matter but it was the harsh truth. The reality of being a prisoner of war. This isn't a fairy tale and nothing was romanticized in any way. I had to walk away twice but kept coming back to see what happened. To learn the truth and all I have to say is WOW.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This story was pretty much written backwards with Anastasia's early life thrown in as you read along. I was mesmerized by this story. A lost princess, one who was originally thought dead. One that caused quite a bit of controversy over her life. It was amazing to me, how complete strangers would take her in just because they thought she was Anastasia even when the royal palace confirmed that she wasn't. Her story sounded so real, I wanted to believe it. The author gives you a little background at the beginning and leaves it to the reader to decide whether to believe this woman claiming to be "Anastasia". I want to believe it, because I want something good to come out of the suffering her family felt. However, logic makes you wonder. This was an absolutely excellent read that I could not put down! Thanks to Doubleday Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
UpAllNightBB More than 1 year ago
Imagine being a princess in a time of hatred and war. Imagine seeing your family being killed before your eyes, barely escaping yourself. Would you let the world know who you are? Would you constantly run in fear because everyone wants your fortune? Or would you have to prove what is rightfully yours? I was Anastasia is just this and more. A compelling story about the Russian princess who goes from a life of luxury, to the fall of an empire, back to trying to get what is rightfully hers. Ariel Lawhon captivates us with the historical knowledge of the events, while putting a personal spin on the matter. You learn a lot about the family and those they trust and learn to not trust. Anastasia learns the hard way who can really be trusted in your time of need. After countless fails at trying to prove who she is, will someone see Anna for who she really is? Anna stays within her confidants and hopes for the best while we learn the trials and tribulations that her family faced. Once a princess, always a princess no matter who or what stands in her way. The scars don’t lie but will they bring justice to Anna. This book is a solid four stars and teaches you a lot about the era and what happened in 1900’s Russia. **Review by Terren, Late Night Reviewer for Up All Night w/ Books**
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anna Anderson has spent over fifty years of her life fighting to prove she is the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Her story begins near the end as she battles in court to get recognition. Anastasia is 18 months away from that fateful night in Yekaterinburg. Does she in fact survive? I love the time line set up in this book. It is an amazing idea to have both women moving toward each other like trains on the same track. The moment they collide will be the moment we learn the truth. While I do not like Anna on a personal level, I appreciate how cunning, clever, and totally insane she is. She is one of most interesting characters I have ever read. I appreciate the amount of research that must have went into this novel. While it is a work of fiction, I bet that was a time consuming task. The only criticism I can possibly have for this book is the very thing I like most: The Timeline. Some readers may find the nonlinear design difficult to follow. I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon is a work of historical fiction. It is the prefect marriage of creativity and intelligence. From her character development to the time line set up, it is an amazing piece of work. I Was Anastasia will be published March 27, 2018 by Doubleday Books. I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars rating. It is by far the best book I have read this year. I would recommend it to any lover of the Romanov history or historical fiction lover. However, I do recommend doing some research first. I have a good deal of knowledge on the Romanovs and that improved my experience with this book.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
Ariel Lawhon has done a great job with this historical novel based in part on the known facts surrounding the imprisonment and deaths of Tzar Romanov and his immediate family and the years of the patiently seeking of Anastasia through gossip and rumour. The backgrounds, the press, travel and even the food and clothing are indicative of these times, the world as it was between the world wars. The extensive research behind this novel is obvious with each page turned. Ms. Lawhon paints her world with both it's beauty and it's flaws. This is a book very hard to put aside. I am very pleased to find this author and will add her to my growing 'must read' list. And I promise to try to remember to never read her Author's Note before the novel. Thank you Netgalley! I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Ariel Lawhon, and Doubleday Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
PegGlover More than 1 year ago
I Was Anastasia is the amazing story of Anna Anderson, a woman who claimed to be, Anastasia Romanov, the Grand Duchess of Russia, and the only family member to survive the Romanov massacre of 1918. This book is riveting, absorbing, and disturbing. I was engrossed from the first page. The author’s writing is exquisite. Ariel Lawhon, cleverly, and meticulously, described the life of Anastasia Romanov and how Anna Anderson, struggled to prove to the world, that she was the Russian Grand Duchess. I completely lost track of time while reading this amazing novel. It’s obvious that the author thought about each sentence in this book, choosing and placing each word carefully, for maximum effect. The author’s writing is so sharp and raw that the pages came alive for me. The only thing I had difficulty with was the frequent time changes, i.e., one month later, two weeks earlier, etc. The book tells the story of Anna Anderson/ Anastasia Romanov while in Russia, Germany, and America. It also describes some of the despair and pain she had endured as a homeless person on the run, as a prisoner, and as a patient in an insane asylum. I was unaware of the Russian Romanov family history when I started this book, so it truly was an eye-opener for me. The book is fascinating, haunting, and unforgettable. Thank you, Doubleday Books and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy.
teachlz More than 1 year ago
My Review of “I Was Anastasia” by Ariel Lawhon Ariel Lawhon, Author of “I Was Anastasia” started with a unique premise of writing about two historical figures, Anastasia Romanov and Anna Anderson. The author teases us at the beginning of the story to read and see if we believe that Anastasia Romonav really survived. I appreciate the hours of historical research that the author has spent. I was really looking forward to this read. The Genres for this novel are Fiction and Historical Fiction. The characters are described as complex and complicated. I found that the timeline in this novel was confusing. There were many chapters and places that would say: 4 days before, 3 days before, 7 weeks after. I also found it difficult to relate to the two characters, Anastasia Romonav and Anna Anderson. Some of the events were not clear. Also this is my bias, and I feel I have to mention it for those who love animals. There is vivid and explicit description of what happened to the beloved pets. If I had been aware of this before hand, I would have had the choice to read or not read. I am an animal lover, and perhaps it is not fair to mention this, but I would have preferred that knowledge before hand. I would recommend this novel for those readers that appreciate novels of Historical Fiction especially dealing with Anastasia Romonav. I also would like to mention that not every reader appreciates the same genre or the same book in the same way. I received an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
Anonymous 10 months ago
I just wish the author didn’t jump around so much in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I may re-read to pick up all the details!