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Der Winterpalast by Eva Stachniak

Der Winterpalast (edition 2012)

by Eva Stachniak

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6027416,247 (3.52)51
Title:Der Winterpalast
Authors:Eva Stachniak
Info:Insel Verlag GmbH (2012), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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


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Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
3.5 stars

This book primarily follows Polish orphan Varvara, who has come to Russian Empress Elizabeth’s court after her father died. She ends up doing some spying for the chancellor, then the Empress herself, before she becomes friends with Prussian princess, Sophie, who would later become Catherine the Great. This follows the time frame from just before Sophie’s arrival to shortly after she becomes Empress of Russia.

I liked it. Not quite as much as I’d hoped I would, but I still enjoyed it. There is a sequel that I will definitely plan to read. I was disappointed, though, that there was no author’s note, which I always appreciate in any historical fiction I read. ( )
  LibraryCin | Mar 5, 2017 |
Another book that solidifies that I would never want to live back in this time. I don't know if I could survive. There is so much mistrust and deceit. Eva Stachniak brings to life a small time in Catherine the Great's life through the eyes of the daughter of a book binder who is orphaned after both her parents die close together. It's about survival and how all parties will stop at nothing to survive. Knowing this is based on history makes me shake my head. The more I read historical fiction the more I realize people didn't trust anyone. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
since I booked a trip to St Petersburg, I thought this would be a nice preparation but in the end the book fell flat to my expectations. While a nice read, there was no depth. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Jun 6, 2016 |
Full of intrigue. ( )
  cygnet81 | Jan 17, 2016 |
Excellent book! Makes me want to read more about Catherine. There is a sequel I will read, too. ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
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"Stachniak (Dancing with Kings) sets the scene extravagantly with details of sumptuous meals, elaborate wardrobes, and cunning palace politics. Longtime readers of English and French historical novels will delight in this relatively unsung dynasty and the familiar hallmarks of courtly intrigue. "
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Cathy Lantz (Nov 1, 2011)
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St. Petersburg, October 17, 1756

Three people who never leave her room, and who do not know about one another, inform me of what is going on, and will not fail to acquaint me when the crucial moment arrives.

-from the letter of Grand Duchess of All the Russias (later Catherine the Great) to Sir Hanbury-Wiliams, British Ambassador to the court of Empress Elizabeth
For Szymon and Chizuko
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The spies you learn about are either those who get exposed or those who reveal themselves.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553808125, Hardcover)

Tasha Alexander Reviews The Winter Palace

Tasha Alexander is the author of the bestselling Lady Emily series. She attended the University of Notre Dame, where she signed on as an English major in order to have a legitimate excuse for spending all her time reading. A confirmed Anglophile from birth, she and her husband, novelist Andrew Grant, divide their time between Chicago and the UK.

Like most lovers of historical fiction, I’m on constant lookout for a book into which I can completely disappear, one that will engulf all my senses and, in effect, turn my couch into a time machine. I want the history to be accurate, the characters to be compelling, and the story to make me reconsider preconceived notions about a period outside the area of my expertise. Eva Stachniak’s The Winter Palace does all that in spectacular fashion.

The scandal, luxury, and political unrest rife in eighteenth century Russia provide a rich backdrop, and Stachniak takes full advantage of all of it without sticking to the ordinary and expected. Instead of presenting Catherine the Great at the peak of her powers, she gives us the infamous empress during her youth, when she was Sophie, a young German duchess betrothed to the future Tsar Peter III. A not entirely welcome foreigner, Sophie is thrust into a court full of corruption and deceit, where nothing is more important than have a source of reliable information. It is by taking advantage of this circumstance that Stachniak gives her novel extra depth. Catherine is not the protagonist of The Winter Palace. Stachniak tells her story through Barbara, a young woman whose heartbreaking life has led her to employment as an ill-treated seamstress at the palace.

Until someone realizes she’d make a better spy.

Stachniak’s well-chosen protagonist enables her to give the novel a full and satisfying depiction of the Imperial Court, seen not only through the eyes of the privileged nobility, but through a woman who is keenly aware of what goes on above and below stairs. She brings to life the plight of the less fortunate and the delicate balance of truth and lies necessary to survive in the murky labyrinth of Barbara’s world. Stachniak fills her novel with intricate details--the opulence is all but tangible--but never does so at the expense of her story, which moves along at a clipped pace. Her prose, lush and evocative, is as elegant as the fabled Amber Room at Catherine’s summer palace.

The Winter Palace should secure Stachniak a place among the best historical novelists. It is one of those rare books that grabs the reader and won’t let go, one that begs to be read again, one that lingers pleasantly in the mind long after the finishing the last page. And for me, it proved itself in a more simple way: the minute I closed the book, I wanted to get my hands on everything else Stachniak has written.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:44 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A reimagining of the early years of Catherine the Great traces the story of a naive German duchess as observed by young Barbara, a servant who watches her mistress's elevation and rises to become one of Russia's most clever royal spies.

(summary from another edition)

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