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The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great

The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great Cover

ISBN13: 9780553808124
ISBN10: 0553808125
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY

The Wall Street Journal • The Washington Post

From award-winning author Eva Stachniak comes this passionate novel that illuminates, as only fiction can, the early life of one of history’s boldest women. The Winter Palace tells the epic story of Catherine the Great’s improbable rise to power—as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne.

Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.

What Sophie needs is an insider at court, a loyal pair of eyes and ears who knows the traps, the conspiracies, and the treacheries that surround her. Varvara will become Sophie’s confidante—and together the two young women will rise to the pinnacle of absolute power.

With dazzling details and intense drama, Eva Stachniak depicts Varvara’s secret alliance with Catherine as the princess grows into a legend—through an enforced marriage, illicit seductions, and, at last, the shocking coup to assume the throne of all of Russia.

Impeccably researched and magnificently written, The Winter Palace is an irresistible peek through the keyhole of one of history’s grandest tales.

Praise for The Winter Palace

 

“A majestic and splendidly written tale of pride, passion, intrigue, and deceit that is brought alive from the first page to the last.”—Rosalind Laker

 

“At the same time baroque and intimate, worldly and domestic, wildly strange and soulfully familiar, The Winter Palace offers a flickering glimpse of history through the gauze of deft entertainment.”—The Washington Post

 

“A thrilling point of view . . . Readers are treated to a firsthand account of the young princess’s slow ascent to the throne, a path deliciously strewn with discarded lovers and sanguine court intrigues.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

 

“[A] brilliant, bold historical novel . . . This superb biographical epic proves the Tudors don’t have a monopoly on marital scandal, royal intrigue, or feminine triumph.”—Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"As told from the perspective of Varvara, a Polish servant girl in the 18th century Russian court, spies and lovers lurk everywhere, while brilliantly bedecked royals indulge their every whim. When readers first meet Catherine the Great, she is 14-year-old Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, brought by her mother to Empress Elizabeth as a potential wife for Elizabeth's nephew and heir, the future Peter III. Sophie quickly realizes that to achieve her marital ambitions, she must please the empress more than her mother or even Peter, who is more interested in playing soldier than he is in Sophie. On advice from the conniving Chancellor Bestuzhev, Elizabeth engages 16-year-old Varvara, well-versed in languages, espionage, and storytelling, to befriend Sophie and spy on her. Varvara's loyalties soon shift to Sophie. After she leaves the court to marry a palace guard, Varvara secretly keeps in touch with Sophie, who becomes Grand Duchess Catherine, despised by an increasingly petulant Peter and distrusted by the demanding Elizabeth. Since Stachniak (Necessary Lies) can't invent anything more bizarre than actual czarist history, she wisely focuses on portraying the liaisons of Russian court life, with Varvara's story paralleling Catherine's before taking its own unique turn. A sequel about Catherine's reign is already in the works." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY

The Wall Street Journal • The Washington Post

From award-winning author Eva Stachniak comes this passionate novel that illuminates, as only fiction can, the early life of one of history’s boldest women. The Winter Palace tells the epic story of Catherine the Great’s improbable rise to power—as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne.

Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.

What Sophie needs is an insider at court, a loyal pair of eyes and ears who knows the traps, the conspiracies, and the treacheries that surround her. Varvara will become Sophie’s confidante—and together the two young women will rise to the pinnacle of absolute power.

With dazzling details and intense drama, Eva Stachniak depicts Varvara’s secret alliance with Catherine as the princess grows into a legend—through an enforced marriage, illicit seductions, and, at last, the shocking coup to assume the throne of all of Russia.

Impeccably researched and magnificently written, The Winter Palace is an irresistible peek through the keyhole of one of history’s grandest tales.

Praise for The Winter Palace

 

“A majestic and splendidly written tale of pride, passion, intrigue, and deceit that is brought alive from the first page to the last.”—Rosalind Laker

 

“At the same time baroque and intimate, worldly and domestic, wildly strange and soulfully familiar, The Winter Palace offers a flickering glimpse of history through the gauze of deft entertainment.”—The Washington Post

 

“A thrilling point of view . . . Readers are treated to a firsthand account of the young princess’s slow ascent to the throne, a path deliciously strewn with discarded lovers and sanguine court intrigues.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

 

“[A] brilliant, bold historical novel . . . This superb biographical epic proves the Tudors don’t have a monopoly on marital scandal, royal intrigue, or feminine triumph.”—Booklist (starred review)

About the Author

Eva Stachniak was born in Wrocław, Poland. She moved to Canada in 1981 and has worked for Radio Canada International and Sheridan College, where she taught English and humanities. Her first short story, “Marble Heroes,” was published by The Antigonish Review in 1994, and her debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2000. She is also the author of Garden of Venus, which has been translated into seven languages. She lives in Toronto, where she is at work on her next novel about Catherine the Great, which Bantam Books will publish.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Elizabeth Vollbach, January 12, 2012 (view all comments by Elizabeth Vollbach)
THE WINTER PALACE: A NOVEL OF CATHERINE THE GREAT by Eva Stachniak is historical fiction. The historical part is about Catherine, so I guess that’s why Stachniak put her in the subtitle. But the story is told by one of her fictional maids, Barbara, and is very much about her.

Barbara was like a Dickens character in that she began as the lowliest of lows and eventually became a great friend and confidant of Catherine. The two were together from the time Catherine was Sophie, a poor princess trying her best to marry the next Russian emperor. Barbara saw Catherine accomplish her objective but then become nothing more than a vessel to produce the next heir to the throne. And then when she did, the baby was immediately taken away from her.

Barbara’s is probably a good example of a palace employee and of all the spying and deceit that went on there. But this (spying and deceit) were the subjects more than Catherine.

Eventually, as we know, Catherine takes the throne. But, as with all historical fiction, it’s difficult to know what is fiction and what is fact about how that came to be.

This book is a good example of historical fiction, but, honestly, it bored me for the most part. Yet, I couldn’t make myself skip paragraphs or chapters. I wanted to know what would happen next, so that’s a good sign, right?
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780553808124
Subtitle:
A Novel of Catherine the Great
Publisher:
Bantam
Author:
Stachniak, Eva
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20120110
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9.59 x 6.61 x 1.54 in 1.56 lb

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 464 pages Bantam - English 9780553808124 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "As told from the perspective of Varvara, a Polish servant girl in the 18th century Russian court, spies and lovers lurk everywhere, while brilliantly bedecked royals indulge their every whim. When readers first meet Catherine the Great, she is 14-year-old Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, brought by her mother to Empress Elizabeth as a potential wife for Elizabeth's nephew and heir, the future Peter III. Sophie quickly realizes that to achieve her marital ambitions, she must please the empress more than her mother or even Peter, who is more interested in playing soldier than he is in Sophie. On advice from the conniving Chancellor Bestuzhev, Elizabeth engages 16-year-old Varvara, well-versed in languages, espionage, and storytelling, to befriend Sophie and spy on her. Varvara's loyalties soon shift to Sophie. After she leaves the court to marry a palace guard, Varvara secretly keeps in touch with Sophie, who becomes Grand Duchess Catherine, despised by an increasingly petulant Peter and distrusted by the demanding Elizabeth. Since Stachniak (Necessary Lies) can't invent anything more bizarre than actual czarist history, she wisely focuses on portraying the liaisons of Russian court life, with Varvara's story paralleling Catherine's before taking its own unique turn. A sequel about Catherine's reign is already in the works." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY

The Wall Street Journal • The Washington Post

From award-winning author Eva Stachniak comes this passionate novel that illuminates, as only fiction can, the early life of one of history’s boldest women. The Winter Palace tells the epic story of Catherine the Great’s improbable rise to power—as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne.

Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.

What Sophie needs is an insider at court, a loyal pair of eyes and ears who knows the traps, the conspiracies, and the treacheries that surround her. Varvara will become Sophie’s confidante—and together the two young women will rise to the pinnacle of absolute power.

With dazzling details and intense drama, Eva Stachniak depicts Varvara’s secret alliance with Catherine as the princess grows into a legend—through an enforced marriage, illicit seductions, and, at last, the shocking coup to assume the throne of all of Russia.

Impeccably researched and magnificently written, The Winter Palace is an irresistible peek through the keyhole of one of history’s grandest tales.

Praise for The Winter Palace

 

“A majestic and splendidly written tale of pride, passion, intrigue, and deceit that is brought alive from the first page to the last.”—Rosalind Laker

 

“At the same time baroque and intimate, worldly and domestic, wildly strange and soulfully familiar, The Winter Palace offers a flickering glimpse of history through the gauze of deft entertainment.”—The Washington Post

 

“A thrilling point of view . . . Readers are treated to a firsthand account of the young princess’s slow ascent to the throne, a path deliciously strewn with discarded lovers and sanguine court intrigues.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

 

“[A] brilliant, bold historical novel . . . This superb biographical epic proves the Tudors don’t have a monopoly on marital scandal, royal intrigue, or feminine triumph.”—Booklist (starred review)

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