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Empress of the Night: A Novel of Catherine the Great

(Catherine #2)

3.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,407 ratings  ·  236 reviews
The follow-up to the #1 bestseller The Winter Palace--perfect for the readers of Hilary Mantel and Alison Weir.
Catherine the Great, the Romanov monarch reflects on her astonishing ascension to the throne, her leadership over the world's greatest power, and the lives sacrificed to make her the most feared woman in the world--lives including her own...
Catherine the Great
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Bantam (first published September 16th 2013)
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Historical Fiction
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

What is that old admonition? If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?

It's a wonderful rule of thumb, but I'm afraid abiding by it would compromise my integrity as I wouldn't be able to write much of anything and as a reviewer, well, that's kind of a problem.

This being the case, perhaps I should take comfort in knowing honesty to be the best policy.

I came to Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night with high h
Mar 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014-reads
I would like to preface this review with the statement that this book is in no way a testament to the author’s talent. I read the previous book in this series, The Winter Palace, and was very engrossed with the author’s ability to convey the rise to power of Catherine the Great through the eyes of a servant who comes to be a close friend. Because that book was so well done, I was thrilled to be granted an advanced reader’s copy of the book to follow. I only wish Empress of the Night could have l ...more
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I finished Empress of the Night: A Novel of Catherine the Great yesterday, but wasn't ready to rate or write a review about it, neither did I have time to do it anyway.

My copy of this book starts with a quote written to me by my grandmother: "When I gave you your first book, I also told you something. If you want to live a happy life, you got to read lots of books. I'm glad you remember". Why am I writing this? Well, to show you that I'll be good to this book, despite all the flaws it had.

Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
DNF. This is a retelling of Catherine the Great's story of ascension to power, already told in the previous novel - The Winter Palace - this time told through the eyes of Catherine herself. It may have sounded like a good idea in the author's head, but the result is a story the reader is already familiar with, told again without enough new insights on it to justify the retelling. Instead of the interesting point of view of the courtiers and servants from the first book, we now only get to learn ...more
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
From the moment I started listening to this book, I could tell that it was something unique. It was probably a novel that I would have enjoyed more in print than as an audiobook. Listening too it, I found my mind wandering and got lost in the disjointed storytelling.

Beginning with the scene of Catherine's dying moments, Empress of the Night has a dreamlike quality of the empress' life flashing before her eyes. Instead of a comprehensive biography, the reader is given random snippets that stand
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Ever since I read "The Winter Palace," I had been dying to read "Empress of the Night" so I was so excited to be able to finally get it in my hot little hands. I was definitely not disappointed in this book but if you've read "The Winter Palace," "Empress of the Night" has a completely different feeling. Catherine the Great is an absolutely fascinating historical figure and she gets an amazing treatment in this book.

This book has a vastly different flavor than "The Winter Palace." This book felt
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Have you ever read a book because that particular subject fascinates you, so you enjoy reading more than what you've already read? And then, as you are reading, the book begins to become eerily familiar - like you've read it before? This is how I felt about Empress of the Night. I love historical fiction, and Catherine the Great is such an intriguing figure that I enjoy reading about her from a variety of perspectives. Sadly, this book reminded me so much of the last book I read about Catherine ...more
Toni Osborne
Aug 13, 2014 rated it did not like it
A novel of Catherine the Great book 2

Based on Catherine’s memoirs, this second novel seems more of a literary novel than anything else. Its approach is quite daunting and has less of a straightforward narrative than “The Winter Palace” had. Told through a series of vignettes that shift back and forth in time the princess on her death bed recalls and reflects on the key episodes of her reign. This complex and psychologically intense novel of a woman in charge of her destiny should have been a ver
This book left me with a strange feeling. I have to say I struggled to finish at some point... The narration was to evasive, I would have wanted more details, and the book would have gained from a first-person point of view. The moments in which Catherine is dying were too long and it was difficult to return and connect to the main story after... The series of lovers was getting frustrating toward the end, perhaps because the author didn't really "focus" on them nor on the Empress' feelings towa ...more
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In the book Empress of the Night, the storied history of Russia’s Catherine the Great comes alive. Details breathed one by one, as written by master storyteller Eva Stachniak, bring history to life – not only vividly, but entrancingly.

I love this book. It’s the perfect read for delving deep into history, for gaining an understanding of someone’s life, and for escaping into a different place and time.

I got a chance to interview the author, Eva Stachniak, about writing, inspiration, and Russia (
Katherine Gypson
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Winter Palace, Eva Stachniak created a portrait of one of Russia's greatest rulers from the outside: through the viewpoint of her spy (and sometime friend) Varvara. The choice was brilliant, bringing the scheming court of St. Petersburg alive in all of stench and snow and glittering wealth. Now, with Empress of the Night, Stachniak completes the portrait by allowing Catherine to tell her own story.

I had my doubts about whether or not Catherine the Great's reign could work as novel - after
Freda Mans-Labianca
Mar 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Solid reading!
Having read this as a stand alone, I did not feel like I missed anything by not reading The Winter Palace, though I will be reading it at some point.
I do feel like I learned a great deal about Catherine the Great. I knew that she could be shrewd, but I can understand why for the most part. She really did what she had to, to benefit Russia. She was hard and stubborn but she did some great things. Now the debauchery, I know it was big at that time, but she really enjoyed herself. Eve
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Maybe this wasn't one of the best writing novels i had ever read, but this had one of the best messages. It learnt a lot about power, about being powerful. And sometimes this is something we really need. In most of that world, there are usually two kind of people: leaders and submitters. And Catherine was a leader, a queen, as well as one of the most powerful women in the history.
She wasn't perfect, but the tried to let her weakness behind in the eyes of her nation. She was the queen of Russia,
Jan 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
It took me forever to finish this book! I had read the Winter Palace (which I enjoyed) and expected a similar-style-follow-up about Catherine's ruling years.
The book lacked cohesion, the facts known about her life were in there, but it felt as if they were added to a harlequin novel. The main part of the story is told in hindsight, when Catherine is old and ill. (Sure, fine) The last pages (20? 30?) are the writers fantasies and ideas of what it is like to die from a stroke and the things you m
Marci -
stupendous!! I loved this book even more than The first book The Winter Palace!! Evocative, Inviting yourself into the world of Catherine the Great of Russia - her tireless work, her life, her struggles, the court and the cast of characters will have you unable to put the book away for even a minute until it's finished. I didn't want it to end. BRAVO EVA!! ...more
Rachel P
May 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: college
DNF: I got about halfway through this book then finally decided to stop. I love the first one in the two-book series, The Winter Palace. Unfortunately though since I'm not a huge fan of reading books that I know what is going to happen or that I feel like I've read before I wasn't a fan. This book essentially takes the first book written from Catherine's servant's perspective, Vavara, and retells it from Catherine's perspective. Needless to say, it was a bit predictable and I enjoyed Vavara's pe ...more
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I am having the worst luck with books right now. I put aside a bad book to pick up this book. About fifty pages into this book, I had to put it aside. This book was not good. It wasn't completely abysmal and that is why it's getting two stars instead of only one.

Eva Stachniak's previous book The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great was an ok book. I didn't think it was fantastic but I did think Catherine, as portrayed in that novel, had potential to be great in her own novel. This was
Apr 10, 2014 rated it liked it
I can’t resist a book about Catherine the Great, who is one of the most fascinating female historical figures. This is the sequel to The Winter Palace, and, as with the first novel, I thought that it might be an entertaining read if someone wanted an emotional and very personal account of Catherine’s life; I would even say her love or sex life. Many of the scenes from The Winter Palace are repeated here. For example, the scene and circumstances of Catherine’s first birth are depicted in an ident ...more
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Eva’s second novel tells the story of Catherine the Great’s rise to power, just as The Winter Palace did, but this time from Catherine’s point of view. Stachniak paints an engaging, impeccably-researched portrait that humanizes one of Russia’s great rulers.

Her decision to begin with the stroke that fells Catherine is a daring and unique structural conceit that also serves as a real-time experience of a stroke throughout the novel: Catherine relieves her life as the blood that is killing her brai
Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books
Power lies in hearing what is not meant to be heard. In understanding what motivates those who plot against you. In knowing what could make them turn about-face, come to your side.

Empress of the Night, Eva Stachniak’s new historical novel about Catherine the Great, begins at the end by opening with the last days before her death. Catherine is in the 34th year of her reign and is 67 years old. As she lays stricken by a stroke, leaving her unable to talk, her mind goes all the way back to the earl
Feb 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, russia
I do not feel that if one is reading about Catherine the Great for the first time, this book does her justice. The book didn't give a satisfactory answer to the question: why was she called "the Great"? I was a bit disappointed. The writing was absolutely brilliant; I felt as though I were in the 18th century court of Catherine the Great of Russia. This book was filled with atmosphere. I liked the use of present tense, which made it feel more immediate.

We are told Catherine's story through the
Clearly I should have read Winter Palace first, but so it goes when you pick the wrong title when traveling. After a stroke and in a coma, Catherine, whose brain is as shart as ever, looks back on her life . This is her rule as Empress of Russia through her eyes. I confess I found the heavily accented voice of the narrator a distraction--cadence often seemed off and through me out of the book. On the other hands, this struck me as a character and life to observe, rather than to participate in, s ...more
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This book is not really what I like in Historical Fiction. Most of this book was about Catherine's relationships with her various lovers, and much of it told in reminiscences with a dreamy sort of stream of consciousness style. I'm glad that I read Robert Massie's biography of Catherine the Great before reading this, because this novel makes only brief references to Catherine's accomplishments during her reign without giving much detail or explanation. I much preferred the first book of this pai ...more
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, vine, fiction
As fascinating as Catherine the Great’s life was, it was not portrayed well here. From the beginning, it’s a mess. It starts with Catherine having a stroke on the toilet and her observations while incapacitated. It is peppered with Russian proverbs that are distracting. The narrative presents Catherine’s life as it flashes before her eyes in her final hours, from her first days at court, to her coup to secure the throne, to her elderly years. The title is certainly fitting, as she dwells on all ...more
Actual rating 3.5 stars

This first half of this book assumes you have read (and remember) every detail of the Winter Palace, and tests your memory as to which Gregory or Alexander the empress is sleeping with, trying to avoid, doting on, or is her enemy. Countless pages were turned back trying to straighten out last names in order to follow the musings of a dying woman.

I do believe this was intentional on the writers part as the story was told in snippets of memory as Catherine lies in her death
Susan (susayq ~)
An interesting look at the life of Catherine the Great. For me, it was a bit off in the telling because it starts at a particular day and time and follows Catherine's moves by the minute as she is having a stroke. As she's suffering, she drifts back in time. Catherine recounts more of her life with her lovers than of what she did politically while ruling Russia. That was ok, but I would have enjoyed the politics just as much since I'm a huge Russian history buff.

ARC received from the publisher v
This was a quick read for me - and I really didn't like the style of storytelling.

Basically, Catherine reviews her life whilst in the throes of the stroke that would kill her - a two day time period. However, there are times when current events and past recollections aren't easily identifiable. Much of Catherine's life was skimmed over in brief, punchy sentences - and the focus is on past loves.

Then I found out it was Book 2 in a trilogy - what more could be discerned in Books 1 and 3??

Not for
Oct 27, 2014 rated it liked it
I loved the first book and couldn't wait for this one but I was some-what disappointed in this book. The book focused too much on Catherine's love affairs instead of on her accomplishments Also the time-line seemed disjoined, one minute her son was a little kid the next he's married with children. The same with her grandparents. I couldn't not figure out how old anyone was. I also wish it was shown how she married her son and grandsons off. The story just did not flow. ...more
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the intriguing second novel in Eva Stachniak's series of books about Catherine the Great. Whereas the first book, The Winter Palace, was narrated by Catherine's maid, Varvara, this companion book is narrated by Catherine herself, amplifying the fascinating story of her rise to power in 19th-century Russia. ...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
3.5 stars. Would have liked more politics, slightly less parade of lovers.

Copy courtesy NetGalley. Much thanks.

For a further review: http://susannag.booklikes.com/post/77... .
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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 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

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