The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul
William Morrow, 2019. Paperback, 496 pages.
The Lost Daughter is a spellbinding what-if novel. It envisions what could have happened had Maria Romanov survived. With two timelines that eventually converge in unexpected ways, the Romanov timeline opens just as the family is moved to Ekaterinburg. It shows their last few days from Maria’s perspective before her fictionalized escape. Helped by a guard named Peter, they manage to form a new life for themselves in Stalinist Russia. Will the truth be discovered? What trials will they endure?
The more modern storyline is set in the 1970s. Valarie Doyle’s father, a Russian national now living in Australia where she was raised, has passed. Val is in an abusive marriage and is trying to find a way out. When she does, she faces struggle after struggle, including learning the truth about her father who on his deathbed proclaimed “I didn’t mean to kill her” and “there was so much blood.” With her daughter Nicole in tow, how does Val manage? What other truths does she discover about her family and her heritage?
Both storylines show the struggles of women living in isolation with a secret. Each responds differently and discovers new things about themselves. Paul wrote in such a spellbinding way that readers are instantly connected to the characters and do not want to place the book down. She has done a great deal of research about the people and times, something that reminds me of A Gentleman in Moscow, as both place readers in the heart of Stalinist Russia and all that entails-fear, unfulfilled wants, restricted movements. However, one wonders whether someone who grew up in opulence could have really tolerated living in those conditions no matter how believable Paul made it sound. As a whole, I enjoyed this novel so much I requested a copy of The Secret Wife by Paul about Tatiana Romanov to read before I completed reading this novel!
Thanks to NetGalley for the digital advanced reader copy of the novel. The U.S. release date is tomorrow, August 27, 2019. It was released in Europe in 2018.