Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780857520548
Publisher:
Random House Export
Publication date:
01/28/2012

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Winter Palace 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
lit-in-the-last-frontier More than 1 year ago
[b]The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great[/b] by Eva Stachniak (¿¿¿-barely) More than anything else I hate to see a truly gifted writer fail to achieve potential. To succeed in crafting wonderful prose, creating an enveloping atmosphere, only then to fail when history itself has given you the very plot and characters you need spin out your tale in a stunning coup de grace! Eva Stachniak chose an interesting, completely fictional narrator, which does allow her interesting roving viewpoints throughout the palace. Her narrator is the orphaned daughter of the bookbinder to the Empress Elizabeth I of Russia, whom he begged to care for the girl in the event of his death. Upon that event she ends up in various lowly positions in the court, is made a mistress and spy of the Chancellor of Russia and begins her rise to fame. The author uses her considerable talents to create an ambience of espionage, sumptuous feasts, decadent clothing, and furtive love affairs, all of which the Russian courts of the age were well known for. There is no “author’s note” attached to the book, other than one which states that this is a work of fiction. So why attach the subtitle “A novel of Catherine the Great” to the book? To serious readers of historical fiction such a note is a tag denoting a work which is seriously researched and essentially a work “biographical fiction”. Catherine is not even the major character in the book-Elizabeth is. Catherine comes to Elizabeth’s court as a young bride to Elizabeth’s heir, her nephew, Peter, and she and the narrator, Varvara, form an uneasy friendship, but Elizabeth remains that dominante force in the novel. Some historical elements of the novel, such as Elizabeth’s relationships with Peter and Catherine’s children (and their paternity), the access that Elizabeth allowed Catherine to her children, and Peter’s character were fairly well portrayed. However, I felt that she grossly missed the mark in her portrayals of Elizabeth and Catherine. Elizabeth is portrayed as a completely debauched woman. There is no doubt that she loved parties and beautiful things, but she ruled Russia for twenty years and was very much the daughter of Peter the Great, continuing many of the positive things which he began, none of which comes across in this novel at all. Due to it’s subtitle, you feel like you are supposed to be focusing your attentions on Catherine, but so much attention is paid to Elizabeth that I couldn’t help but feel dissatisfied that her character was not fully developed and that it was so one-sided and unfairly portrayed. She was a woman of many talents who made many contributions to Russia during her reign. This novel ends shortly after the death of Elizabeth and Catherine’s seizure of power. Eva Stachniak is working on a sequel, continuing the reign of Catherine, as she becomes Catherine the Great. I sure hope she focuses on something other than the twenty something lovers that Catherine cycled through her bed in her lifetime. This could have been a wonderful book about two very strong empresses and a narrator who fought her way up from nothing. Instead it felt like two debauched empresses and an abused orphan-made-whore swimming through the mire that was imperial Russia. This one barely merits three stars from me, and that only because Eva Stachniak writes some lovely atmospheric prose, and while she often fails to develop her characters, she does perfectly capture their per
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You get a glimpse at the young Catherine the Great, but it's really a story about the lady's maid, Barbara, who is resourceful, flexible in her allegiances and willing to spy for whoever seems to hold the most political clout at any given moment. The chilly Russian atmosphere is perfectly enthralling and the writing is very good.
emmi331 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Insight into life in Catherine's court intertwined with an interesting story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this fiction based on fact. Easy interesting read. Characters well developed. Constant espionage - what times these must have been!
Barbaraketubah More than 1 year ago
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.
adm2713 More than 1 year ago
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!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Still reading this story about the secrets, tattling, and scandal. Hard to put down, but at times a little slow. But an interesting read that will take me to researching characters in this book.
DearReader24 More than 1 year ago
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!
Dona007 More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story,interesting characters,a tad slow in spots but I really enjoyed this one and can't wait for the next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally fascinating glimpse into Russian history with all of its palace intrigues. For anyone interested in historic novels this is a must read! Look forward to future book by Eva Stachniak.
readergran More than 1 year ago
I love historical novels. When you separate the fiction from the fact and see all the factual references used, you come up with a great way to learn history. If you love historical novels you will love this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me interested . Great twist at the end.