Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger . . .
Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret . . .
Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.
Welcome to my spot on the Blog Tour for The Secret Wife by Gill Paul, published by Avon Books in paperback on 25 August 2016.
Until I read and reviewed The Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport back in July 2014, I knew almost nothing about Russian history and the Romanovs. That book really sparked my interest, and I have since watched some TV programmes about them.
The Secret Wife is Gill Paul's fictionalised story of what could have happened to Grand Duchess Tatiana and cavalry officer Dmitri Malama if they had lived. There are people who say that authors should not base fiction on actual people, or events. I guess that historians could be annoyed by this, but come on people, the author clearly states in her notes that The Secret Wife is fiction.
She tells her readers that it is entirely a 'what if' situation, and my thoughts are that if the likes of Stephen King can manipulate history in his novel 11.22.63 (WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination?), then I don't see why other authors shouldn't do so too. Gill Paul has created a wonderful story here, she's obviously meticulously researched her subject and The Secret Wife has absolutely captivated me from the first paragraph, right through to the very last word.
The Secret Wife is a novel told in two parts, in two eras, by two very different narrators and opens in 2016 on the shores of Lake Akanabee in New York State. Kitty Fisher is a young English woman who has fled across the ocean after discovering that her husband has betrayed her. She recently discovered that she was the sole beneficiary to the estate of Dmitri Yakovlevich - her great-grandfather - a man that she didn't even know existed, and had never been told about. Part of the estate included a run-down log cabin by Lake Akanabee, and it seemed a natural place for Kitty to hide out whilst she examines her feelings for her husband Tom.
The story then goes back to Tsarskoe Selo in Russia, during the first world war and cavalry officer Dmitri Malama has been wounded in battle. He is recovering in hospital, and it is here that he meets the Grand Duchess Tatiana, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II.
This is a sweeping story that encompasses the horrors of World War I, the torture and murder of the Romanovs, carries on through World War II and beyond. The author vividly conjures the sights and sounds of Russia during that period, creating characters that are vibrant and realistic and weaving a passionate story of love, grief, betrayal and heartbreak.
Kitty's 2016 story is just as compelling as she slowly uncovers her family history, a history that she had no idea about and that startles and compels her.
|Top: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Alexei ~ the children of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia|
Bottom (L-R) Tatiana in her nursing uniform; Dmitri Malama in his cavalry uniform; Tatiana in a studio portrait
I was totally swept up by this fabulously written story, from the trenches of war, through to the modern-day New York state setting, it really is a complete joy to read. The snippets from history are fascinating and the author's imagining of what could have happened to the lead characters if their lives had gone down a different path is beautifully imagined, and certainly leaves a lot to think about.
I have read most of Gill Paul's novels and have to say that for me, The Secret Wife is certainly her best to date. I loved it, and will shout about it and recommend it to everyone.
My thanks to the publisher for my review copy and for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.
Women and Children First (2012), which was shortlisted for an RNA award, The Affair (2013), and No Place for a Lady (2015), which was shortlisted for a Love Stories Award.
Her non-fiction includes A History of Medicine in 50 Objects (2016), World War I Love Stories (2014) and Royal Love Stories (2015).
Gill has written about relationships for a number of newspapers and magazines, and has an occasionally successful sideline in matchmaking.
She swims year-round in an outdoor pond.
For more information about Gill Paul and her writing, visit www.gillpaul.com
Follow her on Twitter @GillPaulAUTHOR