The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak

The winter palaceBlurb:

From award-winning author Eva Stachniak comes this passionate novel that illuminates, as only fiction can, the early life of one of history’s boldest women. The Winter Palace tells the epic story of Catherine the Great’s improbable rise to power—as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne.






In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Sort of. It was not what I expected.

For people who like: court intrigue, historical stories from the point of view of a non-historical character

My thoughts: 

This book is supposed to be “A story of Catherine the Great”. Let me tell you that it is not. If anything it should be called “A story WITH Catherine the Great”. It does NOT tell Catherine’s epic story but rather the story of a young girl who ends up working as a spy for the Russian chancellor and later for Catherine.

While it was interesting to learn more about the life of the common people, about the behind the scenes of the palace, about the servants’ viewpoint of events, it is not what I came here for. I read this book to learn more about Catherine and I wanted to compare it to Robert Massie’s biography of Catherine and, frankly, I could not have cared less about someone else’s wedding night. Unfortunately Catherine’s life plays the second fiddle.

I assume that Massie’s book gives us the facts so in “Winter Palace” Eva Stachniak seems to have taken some poetic license in order to weave Varvara into the story.
As everything is told from her point of view most events in Catherine’s life just happen but we don’t get to know that much about them. So the book did not meet my expectations at all. As a historical fictional story of a girl at the Russian court in the 18th century this was a good read, it was simply not at all what I expected or hoped for.

Location: Mostly St. Petersburg, Russia

Map St. Petersburg, Russia St. George's Hall

Winter Palace

Winter Palace

All images from wikipedia

Product info and buy link :

Title The Winter Palace
Author Eva Stachniak
Publisher Bantam
ISBN 978-0553808124
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great
More info Eva Stachniak’s website


Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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