Wednesday, July 25, 2012
This historical fiction novel follows the Russian court from 1743 to 1764 introducing the reader to Empress Elizabeth, the youngest surviving daughter of Peter the Great and Princess Sophie of Prussia, who in turn becomes Catherine the Great. The character propelling the story is orphaned Varvara Nikolayevna who is assigned to Empress Elizabeth's court.
In time Varvara gains the attention of the Arch Duke who trains her as a court spy. Varvara becomes one of the Empress' most treasured spies as she maneuvers around the castle taking note of tidbits of information to take back to the Empress. In 1744, Princess Sophie of Prussia is betrothed to the Grand Duke Peter and becomes Catherine, the Grand Duchess. Varvara becomes on of Catherine's ladies in waiting and in time, the two women plan and survive a coup that allows Catherine to assume the Russian throne.
I really enjoyed this book and the perspective of life behind the castle walls. Eva Stachniak used incredible descriptive language to aid the reader in seeing how unglamorous and cut-throat it was. I look forward to reading the next book from Catherine's point of view.