This was our November book club read. The Secret Wife by Gill Paul.
When I first cracked these pages I was instantly absorbed into Kitty’s life in London. She had found out her husband was cheating on her all the while she also inherited her great grandfather’s remote cabin in Northern American. Convenient, yes but believable and very necessary to the story. The story flops back and from present-day (2016) to the early 1900’s following Dimitri. He’s a Russian general of sorts who is injured and falls in love with a Romanov dutchess Tatiana. After a few chapters, I was certain this was going to be some cheese-ball love story spin-off of Tatiana’s life. Pleasantly I was surprised to find out this book has so much more.
I flipped to the back to catch a glimpse of the author, a tendency of mine. For some reason, I like to see who’s words I’m reading. Interestingly, there was no picture of the author Gill Paul, which I assume is pronounced Jill but not sure and now very curious. I did, however, find a picture of the Romanov family with Tatiana standing tall next to her sisters, parents and little brother.
It’s based off a true story? Interested piqued, I jumped back with hopes the love affair wouldn’t end like every other one I avoid reading. So far we have boy meets rich girl, falls in love on the spot, and insists he will marry her (of course she’s a virgin it’s 1914 for goodness sakes). The story dives deep into the war efforts on all fronts giving the story a solid landing in the historical fiction genre.
Back in America during present times, our main character discovers Dimitri is her great grandfather and perhaps hiding a secret when she finds a diary among his possessions. It’s in Russian so she has it translated only to discover it’s Tatian’s. The mystery builds for Kitty.
What I most enjoyed about this book is the spoilers the author floats into both points of view. With Kitty, we learn something about Dimitri’s future so horrific I kept hoping it didn’t happen the way history wrote itself. Then, with Dimitri, we know his motivation ahead of Kitty and wait for their stories to come together. The anticipation is done well.
This book is a four rather than a five because the writing itself felt a little stiff to me. At times I thought it was because in 1914 the culture was more controlled or proper. I think the author tries to convey this and at times to me, it wasn’t very smooth. This should not prevent someone from reading this book. It’s a good story that explores the “what if” scenario of Tatiana and Dimitri, both of which are very real people whom history has records of. Kitty is completely fictional, the story itself is fictional though a lot of facts are drawn in to give substance.
The end made me cry and I thought to myself, “This is what a love story is all about.”
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