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Author: Gill Paul

Published: 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 4 September 2016

5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Avon in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Love. Guilt. Heartbreak.

1914

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 . . .

2016

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.

My Thoughts & Review:

The Secret Wife is a fascinating and beautifully written novel which makes the reader wonder “what if?”

This book has a dual storyline that weaves back and forth between 1914 and 2016 narrated respectively by Russian cavalry officer  Dmitri Malama and Kitty Fisher who has fled London and headed for her great grandfather’s remote cabin in the wake of relationship issues.
Dmitri’s tale finds him in a military hospital during World War I, and recounts the story of his love affair with the Grand Duchess Tatiana Romanov.  It also details the turbulent political landscape of Russia and the effects it has on everyone.
Kitty on the other hand is reeling after what she discovers in London, and makes a break for America to think things through at her great grandfather’s cabin in Adirondacks which she has inherited.  She spends time repairing the cabin and learning more about the great grandfather she knew nothing about.

When reading the description, I wondered just how successfully this dual storyline would work and whether the author would pull this off, and she does so seamlessly.  The level of detail in this shows how that extensive research has been done by the author to ensure that not only the story flows well but also that the historical details are accurate, especially the attitudes towards people like the Romanovs who lived in luxury compared to the ordinary people of Russia who lived in dire poverty.  The historical details of the Red Army and their executions of the Romanov family are harrowing to read but are accurate.
Being able to take such a spectacularly intriguing family and bring them to life through her writing is no mean feat, there is an abundance of material on the Romanov family available, but something in the writing here brought them alive more than anything else I’ve read.

An unforgettable read, with well rounded characters, the inclusion of the idea of what if not all of the Romanovs were executed in 1918 makes this a thoroughly intriguing book.

You can buy a copy of The Secret Wife here.

 

About the Author

Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in recent history. Her new novel, The Secret Wife, is about the romance between cavalry officer Dmitri Malama and Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second daughter of Russia’s last tsar, who first met in 1914. It’s also about a young woman in 2016 deciding whether to forgive her husband after an infidelity.

Gill’s other novels include Women and Children First, about a young steward who works on the Titanic; The Affair, set in Rome in 1961–62 as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fall in love while making Cleopatra; and No Place for a Lady, about two Victorian sisters who travel out to the Crimean War of 1854–56 and face challenges beyond anything they could have imagined.

Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A History of Medicine in 50 Objects (to be published 1st October 2016) and a series of Love Stories, each containing fourteen tales of real-life couples: how they met, why they fell for each other, and what happened in the end. Published around the world, this series includes Royal Love Stories, World War I Love Stories and Titanic Love Stories.

Gill was born in Glasgow and grew up there, apart from an eventful year at school in the US when she was ten. She studied Medicine at Glasgow University, then English Literature and History (she was a student for a long time), before moving to London to work in publishing. She started her own company producing books for publishers, along the way editing such luminaries as Griff Rhys Jones, John Suchet, John Julius Norwich, Ray Mears and Eartha Kitt. She also writes on health, nutrition and relationships.

Gill swims year-round in an open-air pond – “It’s good for you so long as it doesn’t kill you”– and is a devotee of Pilates. She also particularly enjoys travelling on what she calls “research trips” and attempting to match-make for friends.

For more information about Gill and her books go to her website http://www.gillpaul.com or follow her on Twitter @GillPaulAUTHOR

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