The Winter Palace (a Novel of the Young Catherine the Great) Paperback
When Vavara, a young Polish orphan, arrives at the glittering, dangerous court of the Empress Elizabeth in St Petersburg, she is schooled in skills ranging from lock-picking to love-making, learning above all else to stay silent - and listen.
Then Sophie, a vulnerable young princess, arrives from Prussia as a prospective bride for the Empress' heir.
Set to spy on her, Vavara soon becomes her friend and confidante, and helps her navigate the illicit liaisons and the treacherous shifting allegiances of the court.
But Sophie's destiny is to become the notorious Catherine the Great.
Are her ambitions more lofty and far-reaching than anyone suspected, and will she stop at nothing to achieve absolute power?
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 512 pages
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
- Publication Date: 08/11/2012
- Category: Historical fiction
- ISBN: 9780552777988
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Review by Carpe_Librum
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak is an historical fiction novel set in Russia during the rise of Catherine the Great.Court life during the period (1730s - 1760s) is seen through the eyes of Varvara, servant and spy to Empress Elizabeth of Russia. Daughter of Peter the Great, the Empress is brilliantly portrayed as a vain and eccentric woman, taking many lovers and always surrounded by her cats when Varvara arrives at the palace as a newly orphaned young girl just trying to survive.Prior to picking up this novel by Eva Stachniak, my knowledge of this period in Russia was limited, although I was inspired to find out more, learning the Winter Palace (of the title) is real and the novel is based on historical fact.Although the title states that The Winter Palace is A Novel of Catherine The Great, I personally found it was Varvara's story first, Empress Elizabeth's second and Catherine's third. This didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the novel however, and I found myself looking forward to picking it up during the hot summer weeks over Christmas.Catherine the Great comes to power in 1762 and goes on to rule for another 30+ years beyond the ending of the novel and I've since learned there is a sequel called Empress of the Night: A Novel of Catherine the Great. Published in 2013, it is narrated by Catherine the Great herself and I'm very tempted to add it to my TBR pile straight away.Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction and court intrigue, spies, ambition, loyalty and betrayal.