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Dancing With Kings

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  138 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
An alluring, exotic novel set in the late eighteenth century, based on the life of the famous and much-painted courtesan, La Belle Phanariote
Unknown Binding, 400 pages
Published April 21st 2010 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Laura Purcell
Apr 29, 2013 Laura Purcell rated it it was ok
I finally gave up at around 60%. It's such a shame because this author has real talent (see my review of The Winter Palace) but I just couldn't get into this book. Not only does it skip around between narrators and time period, but it isn't always clear what's going on. I normally give books I don't finish 1* but this is going to get a 2. There were some really lovely descriptions in it and scenes that got my attention. But ultimately I found I didn't really care what happened and couldn't slog ...more
Jun 28, 2014 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good read after an initially confusing start, it is the story in the 18th century of the real Countess Sophie Potocka, who after losing her virginity at age 16 in Bursa, Greece, is rejected by her parents, and proceeds to fight her way up the social ladder in Polish society having a multiplicity of affairs with increasingly prominent men, marrying de Witt & having a child, but leaving him for Count Potecki- a prominent Polish noble totally enamored of her, by whom she will have severa ...more
Apr 02, 2010 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Countess Sophie Potocka was a real person who lived 1760-1822. She was born to a humble family, and was a Greek Christian in Turkey, who later married a Pole and ended up in Russia. These were turbulent times when Poland was partitioned out of existence and the French Revolution ended the monarchy in France. It was interesting to learn of the politics and also the mores of the time. The 18th century was much more open than the 19th, particularly for the aristocracy who could have dozens of affai ...more
Jane Glen
Jan 16, 2016 Jane Glen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the subject matter sounded interesting but this was one of the poorest examples of historical fiction I've ever read. With too many minor characters as narrators, it often became confusing or just plain boring. Too bad!
Jul 17, 2016 Nat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, but not particularly well written. It takes a bit of effort to orient through the first chapters but once you get to know the characters it becomes intriguing.
Kate Millin
Nov 07, 2009 Kate Millin rated it really liked it
I found the style quite difficult at first as it jumps between the stories of the different characters and it took a bit of time to get them sorted out in my mind. It is an interesting story of how a woman could use her body to make a life for herself in Napoloenic times. It also shows the double standards for the men involved as opposed to the women. It is the first time I have read anything based in Poland.

Bookcrossing copy:
Jul 29, 2014 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

"Garden of Venus" is the story of Sophia, a poor Greek girl that is thrust into selling her body and eventually finds herself a darling of European society. Although I do have to admit that it took me roughly 130 pages to get "hooked" into the story, once I passed that hurdle, the rest of the story was a real treat. The author's note and historical detail in regards to the events happening in France, Greece, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine was very interesting.
Jul 23, 2012 Theresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave up. I couldn't follow the story. It kept jumping around too much. I couldn't remember the names of the characters (mostly because I didn't care about them) and have yet to find a redeeming quality in the main character.

I read for fun, not to culture myself. This was not fun.
Sep 20, 2011 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful read. The author conjures up images of Russia that will stay with me forever. Easy to read, informative...a must for anyone interested in historical novels, and most particularly, Russian history.
Kathleen Eliasen
Aug 08, 2014 Kathleen Eliasen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this historical fiction about the troubling times in Poland, during the reign of Catherine the Great. Easily relates to other books written about these times.
Nov 04, 2013 Greg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
horribly, childishly written book about a facinating, brilliant woman. This book reduces her to a mere money-grabbing whore wiith no dissapointing!
Liana Stergiopoulou
pretty good book.
Fascinating life of Sofia, but a little bit too much the way it was said.
Good book anyway!
Elizabeth Eames

I liked this book. The story moves along at a good pace, the characters are interesting and the history fascinating.
Jan 16, 2009 Bex rated it it was ok
ultimately unsatisfying - writing isn't that great. i think i would rather read the russian novelists on the subject.
Kelly Pow
Aug 03, 2011 Kelly Pow rated it really liked it
love it...narrated in a few persons' point of view with flashbacks that gives the story 'life'
Anke Zweel
Aug 08, 2014 Anke Zweel rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
this book was confusing and I did not understand it at all.....
Jen Krastel
Soooooo boring. Couldn't finish this garbage.
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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 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
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