Gill Paul Serves Up A Slice of Alternate History in ‘The Lost Daughter’ [REVIEW]

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna Romanova

What ever became of Tsar Nicholas II’s daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Romanova? (Photo  Public Domain)

A deathbed confession. A shocking secret. One of the world’s greatest mysteries. When a woman starts digging into her father’s past, his hidden history leads to startling revelations in Gill Paul’s hypnotic new novel, The Lost Daughter. 


William Morrow

In the summer of 1918, 19-year-old Grand Duchess Maria Romanova lives a life of concealment, hidden away as she is with her family. Gone are the glittering balls and dazzling days spent among the royal household. Since her father’s forced abdication as the last tsar of Russia the year before, all of their futures are uncertain, dull, and fraught with dread. Her only reprieve is found in the alliances she forges with some of the guards assigned to watch over her and her family. But such relationships comes with a price, one which could mean the difference between life and death.

Some 55 years later, Val Doyle overhears own father say something perplexing. “I didn’t want to kill her,” he confides just before his death. That brief sentence taunts her until she is compelled to investigate the past. As she searches for the truth, what she finds is baffling: from the jewel-encrusted box to the old camera with film still inside. The more she discovers, the deeper she is drawn into the decades-old mystery of what really happened to the last Romanov daughter.

Like countless others, I have always been fascinated by the Romanov story. And why not? It is by turns glamorous and tragic, a tale spun with royal threads which has always been riddled with more questions than answers. Though most writers have focused on the enigma that is Anastasia, in The Lost Daughter Paul turns her sights on Tsar Nicholas II’s third daughter, Maria, and lovingly crafts a tale that is obviously enamored by both the source material she uncovered with thorough research and by the Romanov family itself. The result is a novel that overflows with possibilities, and makes us wonder if historians actually got the story right to begin with.

As she did with last year’s Another Woman’s Husband, which was my first introduction to Paul’s work, she quickly envelops us into the worlds of two disparate but fascinating women, binding them together across the vast chasm of time. As we learn about both Maria and Val, Paul deftly manipulates our emotions as nimbly as she tears away our preconceptions about Maria’s ultimate fate.

As readers, we are grateful to be swept away by this alternate history, hopeful that Paul’s version is the most accurate. Graceful, fascinating, and more decadent than a slice of medovik, a rich honey-layer cake, The Lost Daughter is addictive and beautifully told. As such, it should be mandatory reading for every bibliophile and history buff who has ever wondered if any of the Romanov children managed to escape the firing squad that mortally wounded the imperial family on that fateful summer night.

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Gill Paul

Gill Paul


Gill Paul is a Scottish-born, London-based writer of historical fiction and nonfiction. She has written two novels about the last Russian royal family: the USA Today bestseller 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 of 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, which was shortlisted for an RNA Award and is 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, which was shortlisted for a Love Stories Award and is about two Victorian sisters who travel out to the Crimean War of 1854-56 and face challenges beyond anything they could have imagined.

Her nonfiction includes A History of Medicine in 50 ObjectsWorld War I Love Stories, and Royal Love Stories. Gill’s expertise is often called upon for talks on historical subjects, including the sinking of the Titanic. She lives in London, where, as well as writing full-time, she enjoys swimming year-round in an outdoor pool.

Readers may find out more about Gill and her work by visiting her Website at They may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

By Gill Paul
496 pp. William Morrow. $16.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase The Lost Daughter at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, HarperCollins, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

The Lost Daughter is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to Gill Paul Serves Up A Slice of Alternate History in ‘The Lost Daughter’ [REVIEW]

  1. Sara Strand says:

    I am so glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  2. Pingback: Gill Paul, author of The Lost Daughter, on tour August/September 2019 | TLC Book Tours

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