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The Imperial Wife: A Novel by Irina Reyn
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The Imperial Wife: A Novel

by Irina Reyn

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433267,810 (3.4)6

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Good, but not spectacular pretty much sums up this book. I appreciated the movement between past and present as the two storylines converged. I found Tanya's present-day tale much more compelling than the 18th-century one of Catherine the Great - perhaps because I already knew how that one ended? Overall, this is a good, solid read for anyone with an interest in Catherine the Great. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Nov 6, 2016 |
One of the most rewarding novels in a long while. The hero is a woman specialist in Russian art at a leading Manhattan auction house. An object connected with the Russian Empress Catherine the Great is up for bids: it is a highly desirable piece and interest among the super wealthy of Moscow is quite high. The locale shifts from New York to Monaco to Moscow, and back in time to that moment when the actual Catherine received the item now up for sale. There is plenty of palace intrigue--matched by contemporary tales including an extended theme on what it means to be an immigrant (and also: the ups and downs of marriage and family). This book is like a glass of great champagne; it goes down quickly, is delicious, and is unforgettable. ( )
  neddludd | Oct 6, 2016 |
There were things that really worked for me in this book, and things that didn’t work as well. Not so great things first: The book is structured as a dual narrative; that isn’t the issue. For me, I had a difficult time reconciling the two narratives - there wasn’t an intersection between the two, rather I felt as though I was reading two completely different books that were smashed together. I also wished I could’ve developed a deeper connection with both Catherine and Tanya - I couldn’t seem to get past feeling as though I were watching from a million miles away. It was “oh, I’m reading a book about them, and it’s a pleasant experience”, rather than being inside their head, experiencing every thought and feeling. All that said, I enjoyed the book overall and it was my introduction to the female rulers of Russia. I was very intrigued by Catherine and plan to read more about her.
Why I gave it three stars: this is one of the few books I’ve read with not one, but two, ambitious female lead characters that I could actually relate to. I’m a working professional and my husband and I see each other as equals, but there are times when I question whether or not I’m prioritizing my career at the sacrifice of our relationship etc. It was refreshing to have those insecurities acknowledged. As I was reading, I highlighted several passages that really spoke to me and I thought it was well written. My favorite quote: “…when did I ever enjoy the process of becoming? When would I finally be satisfied with what I’ve achieved? At each juncture, there was always more to want. More ways to be the most competent person in the room.” - pg 58
Overall, I wouldn’t rush out into the streets telling strangers that they must read this book. But it’s certainly worth a look, and I would definitely consider reading something else by the same author. Thanks to Thomas Dunne Books and St Martin’s Press (via Netgalley) for granting permission to read the galley copy. ( )
  mbecken | Jul 18, 2016 |
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