Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great (Catherine, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great (Catherine, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great (Catherine #1)

by
3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,904 Ratings  ·  1,061 Reviews
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 o
...more
Hardcover, 444 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Bantam (first published 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Winter Palace, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Winter Palace

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Erin
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Straight out of the gate I have to give Stachniak a lot of points. In a market flooded with Tudor lit, The Winter Palace stands apart. A lover of history and historic fiction, I was overjoyed to see an author branching out. Of course, I wont be happy until someone writes a solid fiction on Crown Prince Rudolf and Baroness Marie Vetsera but Catherine the Great is definitely a step in the right directio
...more
C.W.
Oct 11, 2011 C.W. rated it it was amazing
In the crowded historical fiction marketplace, THE WINTER PALACE stands out for being a book set in mid-eighteenth century Russia, an unusual setting. But what makes this novel unique is its perspective. Told from the viewpoint of Varvara, a young Polish woman who rises to influence in the Russian Court of Tsarina Elizabeth as a spy, we are swept into a tumultuous era when the fortunes of an entire empire hovered on the often incomprehensible whims of the aging tsarina, and where an enterprising ...more
librarianka
Mar 04, 2012 librarianka rated it really liked it
This book sets the stage for the next book, a clever idea. In The Winter Palace we read about what went on before the relatively obscure German princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg transformed herself into the empress Catherine the Great.

I found it quite an intense story about what, we would call today, an abusive and toxic environment and women who found themselves living inside it. Sophie and everybody else is placed under the tyranny of empress Elizabeth, who is a cru
...more
Alice Poon
May 23, 2016 Alice Poon rated it really liked it

I'm giving this novel 3.7 stars.

This was an entertaining novel that read like a melodrama. The plot is believable and fastidiously executed. The writing is melodious and sentimental. The novel is immensely rich in descriptive details, especially about court etiquette, palatial decor, clothes and jewelry. Having recently read Robert Massie’s factual non-fiction title Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, I can avow that this novel is based on meticulous research.

The novel is written from the
...more
Becky
This book was selected for my Historical Fiction group's January group read, and since I'm trying (somewhat successfully so far, but the year is still young) to read more group read selections, I read this one.

And... Well, I liked it, but I can't say that I loved it. It really wasn't what I was expecting at all, though that's not really a bad thing. Just different.

I had expected this novel of Catherine the Great to be about Catherine the Great. Instead, it was about the girl, Sophie, who would
...more
Misfit
Sep 11, 2011 Misfit rated it liked it
Novels on Catherine the Great are few and far between, and I believe most of those are out of print and rather hard to find, so I was thrilled to bits to see a new one coming out. While this is billed as "A Novel of Catherine the Great", the narrator is Barbara (Varvara in Russian), a daughter of a Polish bookbinder who works as a spy in the household of the Empress Elizabeth, beginning at the time a young Princess Sophie is brought to court to marry Elizabeth's nephew and heir. Barbara and the ...more
Lolly's Library (Dork Kettle)
3.5 stars

Eva Stachniak is an excellent writer. She immerses the reader fully into the story, allowing one to hear the susurration of silken petticoats, feel the chill bite of the howling Russian winter wind, smell the perfume and mildew which permeated the grand yet dilapidated Winter Palace. She does so with complex sentences, unlike some historical fiction writers *cough* Philippa Gregory *cough* who can't seem to string together sentences more involved than the "See Jane, See Spot, See Jane a
...more
AliceinWonderland
May 12, 2012 AliceinWonderland rated it it was ok
- I was so looking forward to this book, only to be disappointed AGAIN!
- The unfortunate part is that the premise of the book, including the time period and all of the characters *could* have had such an interesting story to tell, but Stachniak falls short.
- To start off with, I believe the choice of a first person narrator told from the point of a view of a spy or "tongue" under the guise as a chamber maid ruined the writer's ability to truly potray Catherine the Great.
- I mean, who is she real
...more
Sue
The Winter Palace is historical fiction, based on historical sources of the life of Catherine the Great of Russia. We see the center of the empire through the eyes of one member of the court, an insignificant child initially brought to Russia by her Polish parents. This child, Barbara, soon to be renamed Varvara, enters into the world of court intrigue after her parents death and we follow the intrigues of court life under Elizabeth, Grand Duke Peter, the search for a wife for Peter, and the tra ...more
Josie
[Audiobook version]

Now that the days are shorter, I was looking for a sweeping historical novel to listen to on the dark drive to and from work. This seemed ideal -- an orphaned Polish girl working in the Russian court becomes one of Empress Elizabeth's "tongues" (a palace spy) but ultimately ends up helping the young German princess Sophie to become the notorious Catherine the Great.

Except, my knowledge of Russian (and European) history of that era is veeeery vague, so I honestly have no idea w
...more
Cassandra
Apr 10, 2015 Cassandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historischer Roman um Katharina der Großen erzählt aus der Sicht einer Spionin, die zur Freundin der späterin Zarin wird. Liest sich gut, weiß aber noch nicht, ob ich den zweiten Teil in der nächsten Zeit auch lesen werde.
Dem
Apr 08, 2012 Dem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The winter palace by Eva is an interesting and easy to read Novel and if you are somebody who does not like to get bogged down with historical dates and facts but like to learn a little of Russian royal courts, then this is the book for you, however if you are somebody who loves historical fiction with a capital L and want your novels to read like history books then you will not enjoy this book.

I picked this book up recently at an airport bookshop as the two books I had packed were heavy reading
...more
Manda Scott
Oct 02, 2011 Manda Scott rated it it was amazing
I was recently sent two outstanding books for cover quotes. This is the first:

Published in January next year by Doubleday, 'The Winter Palace' is the story of the ascent of the poor little German princess, Sophie who, dragged to the Russian court as bride for the youthful Grand Duke (a Prussian, who spends his life playing with his toy soldiers and fails to consummate their marriage), rises in time to become Catherine the Great.

But she is not great when we meet her: she's the princess with darne
...more
Jane
Feb 11, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, russia
A very well written, magnificent novel on the rise to power of Catherine the Great of Russia. Told by a servant, the Polish orphan Varvara, recruited as a spy [called gazette or tongue] by the conservative Elizabeth II, the novel tells of Varvara's years in Elizabeth's service and beyond. Varvara recounts the coming of a noble German teenager, who has been chosen to marry the Empress's nephew, the childish and nasty Czar Peter. Catherine suffers then chafes under the years of cruelty of her 'mot ...more
Dorine
Mar 12, 2012 Dorine rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
The Winter Palace A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva StachniakFor hardcore Historical fiction lovers, THE WINTER PALACE by Eva Stachniak is an excellent book. The novel gives great insight into Russian history and I thought it was fascinating.

It's written from the point of view of Varvara, a young orphaned woman, who becomes a spy within the Empress' palace. Her father was a bookbinder and upon his death, Varvara is left within the Empress' care. At first, she doesn't have much choice about becoming a spy - it's either that or continue working as a seams
...more
Cheryl
Dec 05, 2012 Cheryl rated it it was ok
Misleading back cover or reader error? Maybe a little bit of both. While I thought that the book would be a lot about the Catherine the Great, with some of the Catherinian Era enlightenment, Catherine really takes a back seat to Empress Elizabeth until about 300 pages in. About 75 pages in, Catherine slowly enters her story, 200 pages in and Elizabeth might as well have been the main character, and 300 pages in, you get to see some of Catherine's prowess (because before all this, her character s ...more
Linda Inês
Jan 10, 2016 Linda Inês rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Este livro é basicamente um sem-fim de coscuvilhices, rumores e segredos que me deixou viciada do início ao fim. Eu adorei a personagem principal que é a narradora da história e é uma espiã na corte russa. É ela que nos vai contando as peripécias que vão acontecendo e que vão levar á ascensão de Catarina, a grande. A história está muito bem escrita e levou-me a torcer por algumas personagens só para mais tarde me fazer detestá-las. Bem, concluindo, foi uma mistura de sentimentos.
Recomendo este l
...more
MaryannC.Book Fiend
I wasnt sure if I was going to like this, I read a mixed bag of reviews on this book. This was my first book about Catherine The Great and I have to say I really liked it. I liked the details and the author's writing style. It wasnt complicated, it was just a nice, solid read that kept me coming back for more.
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Barbara is a Prussian bookbinder's daughter who moves to Russia with her family so that her father can have better work opportunities. After the deaths of her parents, Barbara goes to work in the Imperial Palace, where she quickly makes herself useful by becoming a spy. She is ideally placed and of the perfect age to befriend young Sophie when she arrives in the palace to marry the Grand Duke Peter, heir to the Imperial Throne. Sophie is renamed Catherine and Barbara remains by her side as she i ...more
Patrícia
Opinião do blogue Chaise Longue: http://girlinchaiselongue.blogspot.pt...

A Rússia czarista sempre exerceu um forte fascínio em mim. Culpem Anastasia se quiserem. Mas, na literatura, poucas vezes posso dar azo a esse interesse, o que faz com que livros como O Palácio de Inverno, sejam, imediatamente leitura obrigatória. E esta, em especial, foi tudo o que podia ter pedido e mais ainda. Eva Stachniak, escreve com requinte e beleza, deslumbrando-nos através de palavras apaixonadas e descrições que
...more
Ladiibbug
Sep 22, 2014 Ladiibbug rated it really liked it
Historical Fiction - Catherine the Great #1

Good Reads: Historical Fictionistas Group: January 2014 Group Read

For those more familiar with Russian or world history, please see other G/R reviews which are more in depth and written with much more authority.

I know virtually nothing of Russia's history, let alone from 1756 under Empress Elizabeth until Catherine the Great came to power.

This is an exceptionally well written and engrossing book, which I would compare to Philippa Gregory's historical fi
...more
Care
Feb 26, 2012 Care rated it liked it
Shelves: hf-european
More than anything else I hate to see a truly gifted writer fail to achieve potential. To succeed in crafting wonderful prose, creating an enveloping atmosphere, only then to fail when history itself has given you the very plot and characters you need spin out your tale in a stunning coup de grace!

Eva Stachniak chose an interesting, completely fictional narrator, which does allow her interesting roving viewpoints throughout the palace. Her narrator is the orphaned daughter of the bookbinder to t
...more
Jodi
Feb 22, 2013 Jodi rated it liked it
Winter Palace was a bit like 19th century Russian literature—dark, very descriptive, poetic and way too long. Sorry, but once I finished Anna Karenina I had to wonder why she didn’t face the train 25 pages into the book. Never have blanched at a long book, but this one was needlessly so.
My other issue was that the main character (forget it being about Empress Catherine, it was mostly about Empress Elizabeth) was a humble girl who worked her way up to be a spy for Elizabeth, for the Chancellor a
...more
Sally
Dec 29, 2011 Sally rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kat
Apr 07, 2013 Kat rated it it was ok
I tried reading Anna Karenina, and I'm not sure if it was the translation or the story, but it was a painful read. On the one hand, I'm not sure what that says about my literary tastes as a recent poll of 125 contemporary authors declared it "the greatest novel ever written." On the other hand, when I saw that William Faulkner was one of those polled, things made a bit more sense to me. But I was craving a tale of Russian romance and nobility, so I picked up "The Winter Palace." This book was re ...more
Linda C
Jan 18, 2016 Linda C rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
This book is another example of the need for Goodreads to offer half stars. I am somewhat reluctantly giving it four stars, because I think it was better than a 3 star book, but I'm not sure that it really deserves four. That being said, although it had some flaws, it was a good read.

As other reviewers noted, this really wasn't a novel of Catherine the Great, but rather a novel of her friend and spy, Barbara (or Varvara in Russian), a Polish girl working in the imperial palace. I didn't read it
...more
Karly
Jun 25, 2012 Karly rated it liked it
As a lover of historical fiction, I enjoyed this novel very much. In all honesty, I am a Tudor's snob, so taking a break from Henry VIII's escapades was a surprisingly welcome relief. The book is long, but I got through it quickly, as I found Stachniak's plot was circular and repetitive at times. I liked Varvara very much, but felt the book could have centered on her more than it did. For a novel boasting it's intricate, candid look at Catherine the Great, it focused a heck of a lot on her prede ...more
lynn
Apr 15, 2012 lynn rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for historical fiction, and the details of life in the Russian court were lavish and seeming well researched. The story was really more about the "tongue" or household spy that reported back to Empress Elizabeth, and her progress in insinuating herself into Catherine's confidences. It was a good read, not great.
Martina
Jan 11, 2016 Martina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awww, la copertina di questo libro! <3
Non so voi, ma ho sempre desiderato visitare la Russia, sia le città più importanti, con i loro monumenti unici e ricchi di storia, che l'immensità della steppa.
Certamente è uno dei luoghi più affascinanti e misteriosi della Terra.
E tra i personaggi che hanno contribuito a questa fama c'è Caterina la Grande, aka Sofia Federica Augusta di Anhalt-Zerbst, principessa tedesca moglie di Pietro III, che venne opportunatamente deposto e assassinato con un colpo
...more
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Jan 07, 2015 Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum rated it really liked it
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 pic
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Sister Queens
  • Four Sisters, All Queens
  • At the Mercy of the Queen
  • Enchantments
  • To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile
  • Her Highness, the Traitor
  • Pale Rose of England
  • The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court
  • The French Mistress
  • The Darling Strumpet
  • The Scarlet Contessa
  • The Mirrored World
  • The Romanov Bride
  • The Queen's Lady (Thornleigh, #1)
  • Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV
  • The Shadow Queen
  • Queen By Right
711301
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 debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2000. Her first novel of Catherine the Great, The Winter Palace, has been included in the Washington Post 2011 list of most notable ...more
More about Eva Stachniak...

Other Books in the Series

Catherine (2 books)
  • Empress of the Night: A Novel of Catherine the Great

Share This Book



“Where does destiny end and choice begin?” 16 likes
“Don't stare into mirrors. It's easy to get lost in there.” 7 likes
More quotes…