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The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great (Thorndike Press Large Print Historical Fiction) Hardcover – Large Print, 20 Apr 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 655 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (20 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1410447421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410447425
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,819,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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 famous czarina, Catherine the Great. Her survival in the treachery of the Russian court was an amazing feat, and Eva Stachniak captures the fluidity and steeliness that propelled Catherine from a lowly German duchess to one of the towering figures of the century."--Karleen Koen, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Through a Glass Darkly"
"Eva Stachniak has given readers a thrilling glimpse into the scandals and secrets at the heart of the Russian Imperial court. With deft prose and exquisite detail, Stachniak has resurrected one of the most compelling ages in history. Turn off the phones and lock the doors--you will not put it down."--Deanna Raybourn, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Silent in the Grave"
"This novel is literary sable to sink into on a cold winter's night: luxurious and elegant, gilded with details, yet piercing in its depiction of the flamboyant decadence of the Russian court, and the tumultuous rise to power of Catherine the Great, as seen through the eyes of a scheming lady in waiting and spy. Once you enter the glorious, dangerous world of "The Winter Palace, " you will never want to leave."--C.W. Gortner, author of "The Confessions of Catherine de Medici"
"Utterly enchanting from the first page . . . Eva Stachniak brings to life the sensual feast that was Catherine the Great's Russia in this beautifully written, tightly plotted novel."--Tasha Alexander, author of "And Only to Deceive" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The epic, sensuous story of Catherine the Great's ruthless rise to power, through the eyes of a young girl groomed as the Empress's spy in 18th Century Russia. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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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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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Winter Palace tells two stories: the rise to power of the Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great; and the fictional life of a young and poor Polish girl, who grew up and gained trust as a spy in the Russian imperial court. The book is full of the intrigues, politics, deceits, illicit liaisons and treacherous shifting alliances of the court; unfortunately they are presented too narrowly from the embittered viewpoint of the servant rather than giving a broad perspective of the period or of Catherine's life.

I am being generous in giving it 4 stars. I visited an exhibition of Catherine's life several years ago and it was much more informative and made a deeper impression on me. She was a fascinating person - not called "the great" for nothing - and many people will find it worth reading a more serious book about her. However, if you are new to the subject or just want a light read about the Russian history and politics of that period, it is entertaining enough.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came to this story via a reviewer of another book I had read. Why was I reading a review of a book I had already read - well, I do that quite a lot actually. I like to see, after I have finished, what other readers think. I do not usually buy on a recommendation. This was an exception, & when I first received the book & looked at the cover synopsis, I did have misgivings, thinking it would be too 'chick lit' for me. But I did enjoy it. The life at court in Russia is portrayed well enough to make one glad for central heating. The food is described deliciously - I do like Russian food. The interactions of the characters are well portrayed, as are the pictures painted of the main characters themselves. Yes, I did shed a tear or two in places, but I am a romantic. The machinations & politics are at the forefront, as this is how a court survived. Gossip bought many a personage tumbling down. There may be an odd historical error here & there, but if it is history you want to read, there are many, many other books available. I am a little sorry I have finished this book to speak truthfully.
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