I have just finished reading this book and… wow what a book! Having read Gill Paul’s three most recent novels and devoured them, I was looking forward to reading this one and having that ‘being lost in a book’ feeling again and I wasn’t disappointed. This book had me interested right from the start, with characters that were so brilliantly crafted I didn’t want to put the book down as I wanted to know what would happen and now that i’ve finished the book I’m left thinking about it- always a sign of a well written book in my opinion.
Kitty has just left her husband, rather hurriedly, after finding out that he was having an affair. She flew out to Lake Akanabee where she had just recently learnt that she had inherited her great grandfather’s tumble-down cabin by the lake. When she’s there it makes her wonder what kind of a man her great grandfather was and why her own grandparents never spoke of him. As she starts to repair his cabin and researches about him she uncovers some very surprising facts which could have meant for an extremely different life for her family. Upon delving into her family’s past it also enables her to question her own life and what she wants from it with regards to her husband and her career.
Kitty’s great grandfather Dimitri suffered a leg injury whilst in action in Russia and woke up one morning in the hospital to see what he described as an angel beside him but it was in fact Tatiana, part of the Russian Royal family. She tended to him, her company brightened his days during recovery and they became very close.Their lives were not straight forward though, they couldn’t have a public relationship so had to meet privately and whilst away from each other rely upon the poor postal system during the war. There was great controversy over the Romonovs and how they lived lavishly whilst the rest of Russia starved and so Dimitri and Tatiana married privately so that they could confirm their love for each other but without there being more attention upon the family. All Dimitri and Tatiana wanted was to have a life together but the uprising of the times stopped all of that as the Romonovs were held captive and when Dimitri attempted to rescue them it all went horribly wrong. It was thought that the entire family had been killed, but without there being any evidence of bodies, Dimitri was determined to keep looking for her… but how long could he hold onto the hope that she was still alive? How can he possibly live the rest of his life without knowing the fate of his true love?
The beauty of this book is that you fall in love with the characters right away. They’re beautifully crafted which gives them such depth that you feel as though you know them. Usually, if I begin a book then something happens which means I can’t read for a couple of days, i struggle to pick it back up again as have forgotten what has happened, but that wasn’t the case with this at all as the characters really get under your skin.
The story goes through the lifetime of Dimitri and Tatiana, making them appear so very real that when it came to finishing this book it was like saying goodbye to friends and yes, there was a tear or two… and also a tear or two throughout the story too!
As with other books by this author, there is a lot of history intertwined with the present day and this works really well and left me wondering just how much was true and how lots of this story isn’t just fiction, that the horrors of the war and revolutions that took place really did happen. It left me thinking a great deal about just how much that has influenced people today yet we often don’t give it any thought.
What I really liked about Kitty’s point of view was how she gave the modern take on it- how the discoveries of today could have made a difference then- the likes of DNA testing, social technology and so forth and I also liked how hearing her discovering the history of her family helped her to understand herself and to draw upon the experiences of the generations before her so although there was a lot of heartache throughout her great grandfather’s life, she was able to take positives from it.
I didn’t want this book to come to an end, what can I read next that will absorb me as much as this?! It is a beautifully written book with so much history, passion and atmosphere that I am going to miss reading it. This is a perfect book for anyone needing escapism but be warned- you will lose many hours’ sleep as you keep those pages turning!