Customer Reviews for

The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Palace Intrigue at Its Finest

Most people are aware of Catherine the Great as one of Russia's outstanding monarchs, but have no idea of the difficulties she went through to obtain the crown. In this excellent novel, once she marries Peter III, the heir to the throne, the young Catherine is kept in h...
Most people are aware of Catherine the Great as one of Russia's outstanding monarchs, but have no idea of the difficulties she went through to obtain the crown. In this excellent novel, once she marries Peter III, the heir to the throne, the young Catherine is kept in her place by the domineering Empress Elizabeth, her self-absorbed husband, and ambitious and conniving courtiers. Frustrated by being ignored and humiliated, she learns to become skilled at intrigue and conspiracy in order to survive and ultimately prevail. The story is told from the perspective of her trusted servant and spy Barbara, whose own life is inevitably impacted by the constant stress of trying to survive in the dangerous Russian court. The novel tells a great story, and the author is working on a sequel, which I can't wait to read.

posted by emmi331 on February 1, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

17 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

a prettily painted glass bead marketed and hyped as a genuine gem of a novel...

Closing my borrowed copy of The Winter Palace early this morning, I could not help but feel I was holding a prettily painted glass bead marketed and hyped as a genuine gem of a novel. While the reader is promised and enticed by a “keyhole” view of the 18th century Russi...
Closing my borrowed copy of The Winter Palace early this morning, I could not help but feel I was holding a prettily painted glass bead marketed and hyped as a genuine gem of a novel. While the reader is promised and enticed by a “keyhole” view of the 18th century Russian court, the splendor is soon overshadowed and left this reviewer shaking her head in bewilderment and frustration. Although, the attention to historical detail is impressive and Ms. Stachniak has a true talent to capture the grandeur of the era with her meticulous elements; sadly those alone could not prevent the chips and peeling later revealed by: underdeveloped characterization, unexpected vulgar language, repetitive storytelling, weak foreshadowing, and oddly out of place Victorian to Modern language that jarred this reviewer out of a couple chapters. Add to this, the irksome voice of a narrator that mimicked a noisy one-noted bird that I wished would have been silenced by a covered cage or a well placed shoe.

If the potential reader is seeking a novel that keeps an even balance of education and entertainment on all aspects and viewpoints of 18th century Russia, you may be slightly disappointed. While the novel supplies only the basic facts of Catherine the Great’s life at the Winter Palace it focuses more on her intimate life and the drama of those of the court, that may leave the reader wondering what genre or audience the author was really striving for. With all of the displayed private sordid details that unfortunately borderlines on a cheap bodice ripper, it can get overwhelming and another narration would have been appreciated to break up the monotony of the numerous scandalous encounters. While The Winter Palace focuses more on the elite and powerful, the poor serve as a limited background-that leaves much to be desired and explored. In the end, I did not exactly come away wanting to read any type of sequel but it did spark an interest of learning all I can about Russian rulers, superstitions, and history.

posted by -TheLadyinPurple on June 24, 2012

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  • Posted February 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Palace Intrigue at Its Finest

    Most people are aware of Catherine the Great as one of Russia's outstanding monarchs, but have no idea of the difficulties she went through to obtain the crown. In this excellent novel, once she marries Peter III, the heir to the throne, the young Catherine is kept in her place by the domineering Empress Elizabeth, her self-absorbed husband, and ambitious and conniving courtiers. Frustrated by being ignored and humiliated, she learns to become skilled at intrigue and conspiracy in order to survive and ultimately prevail. The story is told from the perspective of her trusted servant and spy Barbara, whose own life is inevitably impacted by the constant stress of trying to survive in the dangerous Russian court. The novel tells a great story, and the author is working on a sequel, which I can't wait to read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2012

    Goldenash

    Leaders den.

    1 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2015

    Very readable

    The workings of the Russian court are described in detail. The intrigues going on behind the ones in power painted an interesting picture of the character of the many players. Told through the eyes of a young girl who enters the court and becomes a spy for the reigning ruler, she becomes adapt at giving enough information, while keeping herself as uninvolved as possible.

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  • Posted October 25, 2013

    fun fiction with a load of history thrown in

    Amazing what has gone on throughout history to bring people to the throne and of again. It definitely kept my interest and can't wait to read Eva Stachniak's next book.

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    WONDERFUL BOOK!!

    This story is very easy to fall into and is beautifully written. Anyone who loves history will love this book. I can't wait for Eva's next book on the life of Catherine the Great to come out in March 2014!!

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  • Posted May 24, 2013

    Best read in a long while!!

    This book is completely engrossing. It spins a tale of intrigue and humanity and history in a lovely setting. It is compelling, well written, intelligent and still a page turner! I am a voracious reader. Everything from fantasy to history to science fiction and everything in between, and this the best book I have read in ages!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

    Great read

    This is a great book to read that gives you insight as to how the palace of the days worked. Who said what, what kept you in the Queen's good graces, and so forth. Loved seeing the backbone of the Empress' life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2013

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    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    Ftgggt

    Love it

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    Vadata

    Riveting

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 9, 2012

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