The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul | Review

Posted September 25, 2019 by Asheley in review / 1 Comment

The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul
The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul | ReviewThe Lost Daughter by Gill Paul
Published by William Morrow on August 27, 2019
Source: the publisher
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If you loved I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon you won’t want to miss this novel about her sister, Grand Duchess Maria. What really happened to this lost Romanov daughter? A new novel perfect for anyone curious about Anastasia, Maria, and the other lost Romanov daughters, by the author of The Secret Wife.

1918: Pretty, vivacious Grand Duchess Maria Romanov, the nineteen-year-old daughter of the fallen Tsar Nicholas II, lives with her family in suffocating isolation, a far cry from their once-glittering royal household. Her days are a combination of endless boredom and paralyzing fear; her only respite are clandestine flirtations with a few of the guards imprisoning the family—never realizing her innocent actions could mean the difference between life and death

1973: When Val Doyle hears her father’s end-of-life confession, “I didn’t want to kill her,” she’s stunned. So, she begins a search for the truth—about his words and her past. The clues she discovers are baffling—a jewel-encrusted box that won’t open and a camera with its film intact. What she finds out pulls Val into one of the world’s greatest mysteries—what truly happened to the Grand Duchess Maria?

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul is about Grand Duchess Maria Romanov, who was rumored to have survived and escaped her family’s execution after being imprisoned by the Bolsheviks. I am not very knowledgeable about this period of time in our world history, so I was excited to dive into this dual-timeline narrative.

In the late 1910’s, Maria lives with her parents and siblings. She lives a very isolated life, very different from the kind of life she had when her father was ruling as Tsar Nicholas II. Even though the family is fearful, Maria is also very much a teen/young adult. She misses having a social life, enough space for privacy, and the company of other boys and girls.

In the 1970’s, Val’s father, who lives in a nursing home, says very bold things like “I didn’t want to kill her” in the company of the nursing home staff. They are alarmed by this admission. The staff reaches out to Val to see if she can visit and give more insight about what he is saying. She knows very little about her father’s life back in Russia. Val eventually begins to seek out more information from her father’s early life and is astounded when she finds a connection between her father and the Romanov family, specifically Grand Duchess Maria.

The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul

I loved this story. I was completely lost in it. Maria’s storyline was most riveting to me, not only because of her near-impossible survival, but because of how she lived after she escaped her family’s execution. She spends time running and hiking through the cold mountains on foot and taking on a new identity, and I adored reading this part. I also loved reading about her transition from life as someone in the higher classes to the life of a common person. Everything, everything changed for her, and I was hanging on every new experience that she encountered-things like actual physical work, cooking, basic sewing. I also was fascinated by Val’s storyline. Val has her own issues outside of her dad’s end-of-life confession. She has an abusive husband and dreams of escaping her marriage. Can you imagine finding out your family has a connection to someone so historically significant?

This story was really so good and I was hooked from the very beginning. Maria and Val were very real and robust characters, and each one had a huge story that stood alone. They each had very real, very big problems, and the way that their stories linked was breathtaking. I tried to imagine putting myself in their individual situations and it just felt emotional and impossible to me in both instances. I felt deeply for them both.

I can see why people love to read about the Romanov family and the Russian Revolution so much. The Lost Daughter inspired me to look more into the real-life story of Maria and her family and to read a little more about this period in Russian history. I’m so, so excited that I enjoyed this one so much and I’m excited to have found a new historical fiction author to love. I know that there are many fans of stories centered around the Romanov family, and I feel confident those readers will love this one like I did.


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About Gill Paul

Gill Paul Author Photo

Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in relatively recent history. She has written two novels about the last Russian royal family: The Secret Wife, published in 2016, which tells the story of cavalry officer Dmitri Malama and Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second daughter of Russia’s last tsar; and The Lost Daughter, published in October 2018, that tells of the attachment Grand Duchess Maria formed with a guard in the house in Ekaterinburg where the family was held from April to July 1918.

Gill’s other novels include Another Woman’s Husband, about links you may not have been aware of between Wallis Simpson, later Duchess of Windsor, and Diana, Princess of Wales; 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.


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


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