The Winter Palace is a lush story of the Russian Court set in the life of Catherine the Great. Catherine, then German Princess Sophie, arrives at the Russian Court to meet Empress Elizabeth and Grand Duke Peter. Elizabeth arranges the marriage between Sophie and Peter with an iron fist. Sophie, now Catherine, faces many challenges before she marries the Grand Duke. Catherine is subjected to Elizabeth’s changing opinions and suspicions. Varvara, a book binder’s daughter is taken into the palace around the same time. She rises through the ranks from lowly seamstress to a spying maid. Varvara befriends Catherine and becomes her tongue. But Varvara must not forget who made her and who can take away all she worked for.
The Winter Palace is an intriguing novel of Imperial Russia. Varvara was a very sympathetic character. She is used by all around her, but constantly gives. Her life story was very interesting, and provided its own twists and turns without over complicating Catherine’s story. I was astonished at the hardness in certain characters, but it made for a great novel. Varvara precariously navigates court life. This novel is fast paced and wonderfully detailed. Stachniak’s research produces a wonderfully accurate portrait. The action is nail biting and kept me turning pages. I felt like I was walking the tight rope!
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for a fair and honest review.