There is nothing quite like seeing the cover of your book for the first time. It’s nothing at all like seeing your child for the first time because with a child you have some idea what you are going to get. There is no looking in the mirror or at your spouse and making an educated guess. With a book cover you are utterly clueless. Your words are turned into an image by a cover designer you have likely never met. It is their job to capture the essence of what you have written, to tell a visual story based on your actual story. The whole thing is a wonderful, baffling experience for me. Wonderful because the anticipation is delicious. Baffling because I could no sooner create a book cover than a stained glass window. The only art I’m capable of making is that which you find on the page. I am a one trick pony. I can’t even write poetry much less sing, dance, or paint.
That said, I am besotted with the cover for my new novel. It is perfect. And I think it perfectly captures the mystery found within its pages. Friends, I give you, officially, the cover for I WAS ANASTASIA:
Germany, February 17, 1920: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal. 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.
If I tell you what happened that night in Ekaterinburg I will have to unwind my memory–all the twisted coils–and lay it in your palm. It will be the gift and the curse I bestow upon you. A confession for which you may never forgive me. Are you ready for that? Can you hold this truth in your hand and not crush it like the rest of them? Because I do not think you can. I do not think you are brave enough. But, like so many others through the years, you have asked:
Am I truly Anastasia Romanov? A beloved daughter. A revered icon. A Russian grand duchess.
Or am I an imposter? A fraud. A liar. The thief of another woman’s legacy.
That is for you to decide, of course. Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it your turn. But if you want the truth, you must pay attention. Do not daydream or drift off. Do not speak or interrupt. You will have your answers. But first you must understand why the years have brought me to this point and why such loss has made the journey necessary. When I am finished, and only then, will you have the right to tell me who I am.
Are you ready? Good.
Let us begin.
What Others are saying about I WAS ANASTASIA:
“A young Tsarina traveling towards tragedy and an aging Grand Duchess penniless and betrayed. Twin stories so gripping you will believe history itself can be rewritten. Told with masterful intensity and moments of true human compassion.”
—Helen Simonson, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Before the War
“Ariel Lawhon is a masterful storyteller; I Was Anastasia is a wild ride, extravagant with its vivid sensory experiences and page turning suspense. Inspired by history, and infused with imagination and intrigue, this novel satisfies with every twist and turn. I was both captivated and enchanted; I will carry this story—from it’s beguiling opening to its catch-my-breath ending — in my heart and imagination for a long, long while.”
—Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Driftwood Summer and The Bookshop at Water’s End
“The fate of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, youngest daughter of the last Tsar, is an old mystery that never gets old. In the hands of Ariel Lawhon, it springs to life again, challenging everything we believe about what we remember and who we are. Was Anna Anderson really the only survivor of the Romanovs or was she a persistent fraud? Somehow, Lawhon, a masterly writer, not only leads her readers to ponder this riddle, but to care about it as well. This is a deft and deeply moving saga.”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean
“I don’t know what’s most impressive about I Was Anastasia: the wildly inventive structure, the ferocious heroine (or is it two?), or the dark, twisted questions it raises about the stories we tell—both to others and to ourselves. Ariel Lawhon has written a gorgeous, haunting puzzle of a book that will grip you until the final page.”
—Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and Liar Temptress Soldier Spy
“In I Was Anastasia, Ariel Lawhon vividly reimagines the stories of Anastasia Romanov and Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be Anastasia years later. Beautifully written and masterfully plotted, Lawhon deftly interweaves these two women’s lives into a gripping and richly detailed historical novel with the pace of a thriller. I was absolutely captivated.”
—Jillian Cantor, author of Margot and The Lost Letter
“A wildly unique look at the dual mysteries of Anastasia Romanov and her possible imposter Anna Anderson results in a brilliant reimagining of two fascinating lives. Complex, exciting, and beautifully written, Lawhon never disappoints. Her impeccable research and lush prose make I WAS ANASTASIA compulsively readable. A fantastic novel.”
—J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of LIE TO ME
“I Was Anastasia crackles with authenticity. Lawhon focuses a glittering, sharp-edged lens on the intertwined reality of Anna and Anastasia, bringing the reader closer to their story than any other writer or filmmaker has ever dared. Intimate and heartbreaking, brittle as Siberian ice, yet intricate as a snowflake. A mesmerizing triumph.”
— Laura Benedict, Edgar-nominated author of the Bliss House trilogy