Dianne's Reviews > The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great

The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
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Oct 11, 2011

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Read from September 11 to October 06, 2011

The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak

A well researched but still fictional account of the spy who is shared by Chancellor Bestuzhev, Empress Elizabeth and Princess Sophie who will eventually become Catherine the Great. This novel is about the ending years of Empress Elizabeth’s reign and ends with Catherine taking the throne from her husband Peter.

The spy is a very young Polish woman, the daughter of a bookbinder and follows her life at Court, Barbara who is renamed Varvara by Empress Elizabeth.

This novel is filled with the expected decadences that one associates with this time period and place and also the expected cruelties.

I’m afraid I found this book to be less than I expected and hoped for. I was looking forward to a novel about Catherine the Great and that is not what we get. I was looking forward to something glittering and exciting, challenging and heart stopping. I mean spies? That has to be exciting, right? Not with this book. What we did get were chapters about the renovation of the Palace, endless descriptions of the food and Elizabeth’s cats.

What I did find very interesting was how Elizabeth put up with her nephew’s fascination with the King of Prussia who happened to be among Russia’s worst enemies.

All in all, in my opinion this was just a mediocre novel that could have been fantastic.
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