“I started this and got bored. I may try again another time. ”Tamara wrote this review Monday, April 30, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I really enjoyed the book. The book focuses not on Catherine the Great but on one of her attendants. ”Monica Sharp wrote this review Sunday, April 29, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This was an excellent historical novel. It is the first part of a series Stachniak is planning on Catherine the Great, this one dealing with her early years. What I loved about it was that Catherine's story was framed using the parallell story of a fictional character, Varvara. Beautifully written, with intriguing plot. ”StarWars Fan! wrote this review Tuesday, April 17, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I enjoyed this novel about the rise to power of Catherine the Great in Russia, told from the perspective of Varvara, her friend and servant of the palace. ”Shelly W wrote this review Friday, April 13, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I love this book and everything about it. I didn't know much about Catherine the great before reading this.”Kindra R wrote this review Saturday, March 31, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is probably a 3.5.....I thought it was about Catherine the Great of Russia, and it is...sort of. It is told through the eyes of young woman brought to the court as a pre-teen, who ends up being a "spy" or "tongue" in Empress Elizabeth's court and aligns herself with Catherine. It then tells how Catherine gained the throne. I actually thought it would be more about Catherine as a ruler. It gave some good background on her, and of the politics of eastern Europe in the Mid -1700's, but it didn't wow me. That said, if just taken as basic historical fiction it was pretty good read.”Heather B wrote this review Thursday, March 29, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Great historical fiction...lots of Russian culture and history woven throughout the book. Great strong female lead characters.”VG Hemingway wrote this review Monday, March 19, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I found it difficult to read at times.....too many names that changed ......I do enjoy historical fiction....but I have read better.....”Marcia Seybold wrote this review Monday, March 19, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This historical fiction is an imaginative recreation of the Russian court from 1743 to 1764, an epic story of three amazing women who lived at the palace. We are introduced to Empress Elizabeth, the youngest surviving daughter of Peter the Great, German princess Sophie and in a shrewd move the author invented a fictional character, Barbara (Varvara) an orphaned Polish girl who became a court spy for both rulers. This story is essentially hers and her narration takes us behind every closed door in Elizabeth’s court.
In 1744, Princess Sophie of Prussia comes to the Russian court for her betrothal to the Grand Duke Peter (Elizabeth’s nephew and heir to the throne). Sophie converts to Russian Orthodoxy and after her wedding becomes Catherine, the Grand Duchess. Sophie soon realizes she needs an insider, someone to be her confidante, giving her a heads up thus protecting her against those who are determined to see her fail. With Varvara by her side, Sophie/Catherine becomes a legend, surviving trials, tribulations, and the coup that allows her to rise and assume the throne of all of Russia.
This passionate saga captures the atmosphere of eighteenth century Russia exceptionally well stressing the importance of loyalty, the key to a powerful monarchy. Success is often determined by a person’s ability to conspire, spy and manipulate everyone around you. The reader is slowly drawn into the day to day life of Imperialist Russia examining the intrigues and extravagance from the point of view of a servant, at times this description was a little over done. I was disappointed at first to see Catherine being portrayed as a hazy and opaque figure and never really achieving the importance of a leading figure then I remembered that Varvara is the prime player.
Just when Catherine’s dreams are about to materialize and my interest was at a high point the end came to a screeching halt. Apparently in the next installment “The Empire of the Nights” we will see things from Catherine’s point of view and maybe this will help to paint a more complete picture of the times.”
“The book was more about the woman who was Catherine's spy and not really about Catherine the Great. It is supposed to be the first of a trilogy so perhaps the next volumes will be more informative, but I am not planning to read them.”Eileen wrote this review Wednesday, March 14, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No