The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul
Giveaway winner copy
A Russian princess. An extraordinary sacrifice. A captivating secret…
From the author of The Secret Wife, a gripping journey through decades and across continents, of love, devastating loss and courage against all odds.
With the country they once ruled turned against them, the future of Russia’s imperial family hangs in the balance. When middle daughter Maria Romanova captivates two of the guards, it will lead to a fateful choice between right and wrong.
Fifty-five years later . . .
Val rushes to her father’s side when she hears of his troubling end-of-life confession: ‘I didn’t want to kill her.’ As she unravels the secrets behind her mother’s disappearance when she was twelve years old, she finds herself caught up in one of the world’s greatest mysteries.
I was super lucky to win a very early proof via Twitter which came with a box of treats which I have to share……
When I opened this novel, it was so much more than I was expecting. It is a story of endurance, sacrifice and humanity, that spans the decades. It is undeniably moving and emotive. I shed so many tears. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough!
The novel centres around the plight of the Romanov family and specifically middle daughter Maria. It is set from 1918 onwards, when the Russian government turned against the aristocracy. I personally found that the novel struck at the chords of your heart by focusing on one family’s struggle to survive. There are obviously historical/political references and the accuracy is outstanding. But by keeping the focus on one family in particular, you begin to question the humanity of their situation. You begin to feel as though you are with the family in their struggle against oppression.
Maria’s father was a Tsar and her mother a Tsarina. Their titles entitled them to a life of luxury and wealth, that few Russian citizens had ever known. Commissar Avdeyev removes them from Alexander palace (their previous home) and places them under house arrest. They are forbidden to leave the house and are told they will be exiled. They spend 14 months as prisoners and begin to wonder when and how it will all end.
‘It’s more like a mausoleum in which we have been interred’ Anastasia
The novel focuses on the siblings, sisters Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana and brother Alexei. Maria is the chatty and inquisitive child, who dreams of marriage to a Russian officer. She is young and naïve, which shows when she decides to befriend the officers on guard. A situation she will later come to regret.
Under house arrest are the seven members of the Romanov family and several members of their staff. Eventually the staff are slowly stripped away; and the family must learn to fend for themselves without servants for their every whim. Which is more difficult for Alexei, who suffers from haemophilia and requires extra supervision. Tatiana is fearless and outspoken, she makes regular demands of Avdeyev.
She is also determined to find the family a way out.
Maria continues to befriend the guards and on her 19th birthday Ivan Skorokhodov even brings her a birthday cake. A luxury they have not been afforded in captivity. However, this simple act of kindness will have much greater repercussions when the commander and guards are all replaced.
‘He never looked directly at any of them; it was as if to him they were not human’
The new commander Yakov Yurovsky, allows his guards to make lurid comments towards the daughters and treat the family with utter contempt. When Maria mistakenly attempts to befriend guard Anatoly Bolotov, it will have a devastating impact on her future and emotional state.
Tatiana has a daring plan, but before it can be executed. . . .
The family are. . .
‘Tsar Nicholas Romanov guilty of countless bloody crimes against the people, should be shot’ Yurovsky
Maria is saved, but what will become of the young woman who trusts so easily. . .
The novel then jumps to its other narrative, the life of Val in 1973 Australia. Val has known a difficult childhood, with her Chinese mother walking out on the family. Leaving her to be raised by a cold and heartless father. She has been married to husband Tony for 18yrs and they have a daughter Nicole (3yrs).
But it is a marriage tainted by domestic violence control and fear.
Val receives a call from Sandy bay nursing home, where her aging father resides. They have been estranged for many years and he is not suffering with dementia. The staff inform her, he has been making wild claims and ask if she can shed any light on the meaning. . .
‘I didn’t mean to kill her’
‘There was so much blood’
The novel fully explores Val’s childhood and marriage. It also draws from the 1970s attitudes towards domestic violence; as something that can be justified and explained away. The only positive in her life, is her love for her daughter Nicole. Which gives her life a form of meaning. But when Tony crosses the line and physically disciplines Nicole. Val knows she has a choice to make.
The novel jumps between the narratives of Val and Maria. Weaving its magic through the decades. I was absolutely captivated by the story and couldn’t put the book down. There are so many themes, it is impossible for me to cover them all in one review. I think this novel is perfect for book groups and historical groups.
It is a beautiful story of the hardships people can endure and their desire for a better life. A story of hope. 5* Genius
***Currently just 99p On Kindle Ebook***