Berlin 1920, intent on suicide a young woman is saved from drowning, but refuses to speak or give clues about her identity. Two years later she claims to be Anastasia and lives with that conviction until her death in 1984. Morrissy has created a fictional history for Franziska Schanzkowska who successfully donned the mantle of the doomed princess.
Berlin 1920. A young woman throws herself from a bridge into the Landwehr Canal, intent on suicide. But she is saved. She refuses to give any clue to her identity. She is literally a nobody. After two years of silence, she claims to be Anastasia, the fourth daughter of the Tsar of Russia. For over sixty years she lives with the firm conviction that she is, indeed, a grand duchess. It is only after her death in 1984 that DNA tests establish that the woman could not have been a Romanov. Who, then, was this mysterious woman, who lived a lie and convinced so many others of her fictional identity? And what of her own identity that she drowned that winter's night in Berlin? In The Pretender, Mary Morrissy writes the prequel to the Anastasia myth. She creates a fictional history for Franziska Schanzkowska, the Polish factory worker who so successfully donned the mantle of the doomed princess. From the few facts that are known, Morrissy fashions the biography of a nobody - an impoverished Polish childhood, an adolescence set against the First World war and the ruinous humiliation of Germany in defeat, a young adulthood blighted by violence, trauma and loss. The Pretender i
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