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The Winter Palace (A novel of the young Catherine the Great)

The Winter Palace (A novel of the young Catherine the Great) [Kindle Edition]

Eva Stachniak
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Riveting... Stachniak has uncovered a treasure trove of rich material... The real core of Stachniak's tale is that [Catherine and Elizabeth] are women... Casts light over recent Russian history too, which is exactly what historical fiction should do" (Jane Smiley Globe and Mail)

"A wonderful novel, riven with intrigue and startling details, the sort to savour on a long winter evening" (Daily Telegraph)

"The kind of big busty read that sends you back to the history books" (The Sunday Times)

"Extraordinarily absorbing... will have you on the edge of your seat" (Daily Mail)

"A wonderful tale of the Imperial Russia court in all its glittering glory. Eva Stachniak vividly brings to life the early years of the meek young bride who would become the terrifying, fascinating Catherine the Great" (Kate Williams, author of England's Mistress and Becoming Queen)


Advance praise for "The Winter Palace"
"Stachniak's brilliant, bold historical novel of eighteenth-century Russia is a masterful account of one woman's progress toward absolute monarchical rule. . . . This superb biographical epic proves the Tudors don't have a monopoly on marital scandal, royal intrigue, or feminine triumph."--"Booklist" (starred review)
"Awash in period details and as gripping and suspenseful as any thriller, "The Winter Palace" gives us a unique look at the making of a queen. Eva Stachniak allows us to peep through keyholes and overhear whispers as we navigate the intrigues of Imperialist Russia along with Sophie, the princess who became Catherine the Great. I loved this book, and this glimpse into a world of silk and shadows, grandeur and gossip."--Melanie Benjamin, author of "The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb"
""The Winter Palace" is an intensely written, intensely felt saga of the early years that shaped the eighteenth century's famou

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1264 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (19 Jan 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552777986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552777988
  • ASIN: B005I4D9W4
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #89,267 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Winter Palace 28 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the story of the early years of Catherine the Great, seen through the eyes of a young, Polish girl called Barbara (Varvara in Russian). Varvara is the daughter of a bookbinder, who moves to Russia and restores a precious volume for Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of Peter the Great. When Varvara's parents die, she becomes a 'ward of the Crown'. At first, this means that Varvara is set to work in the Imperial Wardrobe, where she is cold, abused, hungry and lonely. Wandering the palace at night she meets Count Bestuzhev, the Chancellor of Russia and he teaches her to become a spy.

Varvara becomes very involved in Palace and Court life - she meets the Empress Elizabeth and reports to both her and the Chancellor. Elizabeth has vowed to rule alone, planning to make her sister's orphaned son the Crown Prince. She arranges his marriage with Princess Sophie, who becomes Catherine. We follow Catherine's arrival at Court at the tender age of fourteen, a German Princess who becomes the Grand Duchess Catherine Alexeyevna. There are many plots, affairs, marriages, sadness and problems ahead for both Catherine and Varvara. All the way through the novel, Varvara is the eyes and ears that inform on the 'game'; plotting and planning amongst the court factions as Catherine struggles to find a place in the shifting loyalties of the Palace. Meanwhile, there is the dominating figure of the Empress Elizabeth, ruling all their lives as Varvara has to decide where her loyalties lie as the game turns dangerous.

This is a wonderful read - Varvara is a very sympathetic character and you cannot wait to find what will happen next. The author is currently working on a second novel about Catherine the Great and I will certainly be keen to read that. Excellent and highly recommended.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I'd hoped 8 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was so looking forward to reading this book. I love historical fiction novels set in Russia and this one sounded wonderful (and has such a beautiful cover too). It would be the perfect book to lose myself in over the Christmas holidays, I thought. Well, unfortunately it wasn't. Or not for me, anyway - the majority of people who have reviewed this book seem to have loved it, which makes me feel even more disappointed that I didn't.

The Winter Palace is described as 'a novel of Catherine the Great', which is slightly misleading as Catherine is not the main character and the book only covers her early years. Beginning with her arrival at court as the Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, a prospective bride for the Empress Elizabeth's heir, Grand Duke Peter, Catherine's rise to power is described by her friend, Varvara Nikolayevna. Varvara is a young Polish girl, the daughter of a bookbinder, who is employed as a spy, or 'tongue', at the court of Empress Elizabeth. The Winter Palace is really Varvara's story rather than Catherine's.

This is a period of Russian history I knew almost nothing about, so I can't comment on how accurate any of the novel is. I found some of it confusing at first, due to my unfamiliarity with the people and events of the era, though there is a useful character list at the back of the book to help with this. It's always good to finish a historical fiction novel feeling that you were at least able to learn something about the period and by the time I reached the end of this book I did feel that I had a better knowledge of the subject.

The setting of the book - the Russian Imperial court - was as fascinating as I'd expected it to be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"The Winter Palace" by Eva Stachniak tells the story about Catherine the Great's rise to power seen through the eyes of a servant at the court.

Main character, servant named Barbara was employed on the court of the Empress Elizabeth and under the strong tutelage she will be educated in a variety of skills, of which the most important was the ability to listen.
When young princess named Sophie will come from Zerbst, which will soon become a legendary Russian Empress Catherine the Great, destined to marry the Elizabeth's nephew Ivan, her much greater ambitions will slowly begin to show.

Sophie will need an insider at court and Barbara will become one, helping her in the ascent to the throne, due to Barbara's knowledge of court's conspiracies and the treacheries.
Therefore, these two women together can only succeed in what they're up to, to get to the very top...

The novel is told from the first person Barbara's perspective that was the daughter of bookbinder and came to the court of Empress Elizabeth becoming Catherine's spy.
Therefore, the novel story is not so much about Catherine the Great, though the reader will learn something about it as well.
And while the story is well-made and told in powerful way, the author focused more on the presentation of various tricks that the main heroine performed, compared to the historical aspect of the whole story.

In my opinion, also the first person narration in this novel wasn't the best choice because it didn't always serve the story well.

However, this novel will certainly be well received in the circles of those readers who are more interested in love aspect than the politics, so to them this novel can be fully recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars After reading a truly terrible young adult account of Sophie
This review was written for 'The Review Diaries'.
You can read the full review here: Read more
Published 21 days ago by Rosy @ The Review Diaries
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't finish
Not so great; I was unable to finish the book.
Published 22 days ago by EMC
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
an amazing read
Published 27 days ago by natalie
1.0 out of 5 stars Caution
Advise to try before you buy - I could only get about a third through although I am very interested in the subject.
Published 2 months ago by maurie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A beautifully written book. Well worth the read!
Published 2 months ago by Martin Wiggs
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent!
When Varvara, 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... Read more
Published 15 months ago by ereini0n
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff
I have not read any of Eva Stachniak before but I will try some more. The book was not quite what I expected but I still enjoyed it.
Published 15 months ago by Deb Mabbutt
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL BOOK
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. After visiting St. Petersburg it helped bring the book and the city to life. Good read
Published 17 months ago by Cynthia
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
We read this at our Book Club and from an historical point of view it was generally not liked but reading it as a novel it was good.
Published 17 months ago by JackieA
1.0 out of 5 stars I don't like this Catherine or Varvara
In my opinion, this Catherine is too cruel in no reason.

I always bored when some fictional person's non-court life is written in long pages. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Hiragi00
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