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The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

The witch of Withyford - Gratiana Chanter
THE SECRET WIFE
 
Gill Paul
 
Publishes in eBook & Paperback: 25th August
 
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.
 
Perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Dinah Jefferies.
 
 
We’ve already had a brilliant quote from Dinah Jeffries, author of the stunning The Tea Planter’s Wife:
 
‘A cleverly crafted novel and an enthralling story… A triumph.’ DINAH JEFFERIES
 
 
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I had already decided that this was a book that I really wanted to read before I got a mail about participating in a blog tour for the book. I been interested in the Romanovs for years and reading a mystery book about Grand Duchess Tatiana was too tempting to resist. I was especially thrilled about reading about Tatiana instead of Anastasia who otherwise seems to be the most popular sister to write about.

The Secret Wife has two storylines. One in the present time with Kitty leaving her husband in London settling in her great-grandfather's remote cabin in America. There she discovers that her grandfather was a writer and she finds a pendant that once belonged to a dog whose owner was a Russain Grand Duchess. And, in the past storyline, we get to met her young grandfather when he wounded is taking care off by a very special nurse.

This is a what if story. What if Dmitri and Tatiana had really fallen in love and what if he had tried everything to save her life? What would be the consequences? I looked up Tatiana and Dmitri on Wikipedia and was surprised to learn that Dmitri rally had existed and that Tatiana had nursed him when he was wounded. So, even thou the book is fiction, does it have some historical bearing. I especially like that the story took some surprising turns, that it turned out to be darker and sadder story than I had expected when I started to read the book. The people in this book make rash decisions and some decisions will have ramifications years later. 

This is a book where both storylines are good. I liked reading about how Kitty discovered more about her great-grandfather life and thus learning more about her family. And, Dmitri's storyline is just as intriguing.  

 
 
Read an extract from the book:
 

Chapter One

Tsarskoe Selo, Russia, September 1914


Dmitri Malama drifted to consciousness from a deep slumber, vaguely aware of murmuring voices and the whisper of a cool breeze on his face. He had a filthy headache, a nagging, gnawing pain behind the temples, which was aggravated by the brightness of the light. Suddenly he remembered he was in a hospital ward. He’d been brought there the previous evening and the last thing he recalled was a nurse giving him laudanum swirled in water.

And then he remembered his leg: had they amputated it in the night? Ever since he’d been injured at the front he’d lived in fear that infection would set in and he would lose it. He opened his eyes and raised himself onto his elbows to look: there were two shapes. He flicked back the sheet and was hugely relieved to see his left leg encased in bandages but still very much present. He wiggled his toes to check then sank onto the pillow again, trying to ignore the different kinds of pain from his leg, his head and his gut.

At least he had two legs. Without them he could no longer have served his country. He’d have been sent home to live with his mother and father, fit for nothing, a pitiful creature hobbling along on a wooden stump.

‘You’re awake. Would you like something to eat?’ A dumpy nurse with the shadow of a moustache sat by his bed and, without waiting for an answer, offered a spoonful of gruel. His stomach heaved and he turned his head away. ‘Very well, I’ll come back later,’ she said, touching his forehead briefly with cool fingers.

He closed his eyes and drifted into a half dream state. He could hear sounds in the ward around him but his head was heavy as lead, his thoughts a jumble of images: of the war, of his friend Malevich shot and bleeding on the grass, of his sisters, of home.

In the background he heard the tinkle of girlish laughter. It didn’t sound like the plain nurse who had tended him earlier. He opened his eyes slightly and saw the tall, slender shapes of two young nurses in glowing white headdresses and long shapeless gowns. If he’d just awoken for the first time in that place, he might have feared he had died and was seeing angels.

‘I know you,’ one of the angels said, gliding over to his bedside. ‘You were in the imperial guard at the Peterhof Palace. Weren’t you the one who dived into the sea to rescue a dog?’

Her voice was low and pretty. As she came closer, he realised with a start that she was Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second daughter of Tsar Nicholas. While Olga, the eldest, looked like her father, Tatiana had her mother’s faintly oriental bone structure. She was gazing at him with intense grey-violet eyes, waiting for an answe
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