Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Anastasia Romonova has always been somewhat of a mystery. The youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia and a descendant of Queen Victoria, Anastasia lived a sheltered life with her older sisters and sickly younger brother. History paints her as the joke maker of the family and the one who was in charge of keeping spirits up. Until recently, there had been speculation as to whether or not the Russian princess could have survived her family's slaughter and there have been many theories.
Susanne Dunlap's debut novel is told from Anastasia's point of view and starts from the beginning of the first world war when Anasasia's life really started to change and her privilege was slowly taken away. The central focus is on Anastasia's friendship and later brief romance with a soldier whom she meets and sneaks out with. Sasha (the young soldier) isn't a particular fan of her father but is intrigued by the princess who seeks his conversation and company. Anastasia appears to be starved for company outside her family circle. As the Romonov's situation and treatment becomes more desperate, Anastasia seeks comfort and information from Sasha, who becomes one of the guards essentially keeping the family prisoner.
Sasha does whatever he can to protect Anastasia - pretending he does not know her as anything more than the princess and at times being purposely sharp tongued towards her. When the situation gets dire and Sasha believes her life really is in danger, he tries to convince her to let him smuggle her, and only her out of Russia and to safety.
Susanne Dunlap has definitely done her homework and used the materials and information already known about the family well: it is known during their capture that the Romanov children formed a friendship with the soliders and Susanne Dunlap has worked this into the novel, giving the soliders personalities and names and showing kindness to the girls.
She has rounded out Anastasia's personality so that she becomes a character rather than some intriguing mysterious historical figure.
I have always had a fascination with Anastasia so this book was perfect for me, all the way through the last chapters I was rooting for Sasha to whisk her away and save her even though I knew that's not how it would happen. The only negative comment I have about this book is I wish the Sasha/Anastasia relationship had been developed a bit more and fleshed out a bit and made more of a feature than it was, while it is always in the background, the book focuses more on Anastasia's everyday life than the romance.
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