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Books, Dogs, and Other Blogs

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”


Currently reading

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Diana Gabaldon
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Lewis Carbone

The Winter Palace

The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great - Eva Stachniak

There were so many things that I loved and appreciated about this book.  For one, I know nothing about Russian history, and this book didn't leave me in the dust.  It made this part of Russian history interesting and accessible, and I didn't have to go researching all of the characters in order to keep up.


The books is told from the point of view of Varvara, as she and Catherine grow up in court.  Varvara starts out as a small-time spy, and I loved the spy parts of the book.  I sort of envisioned Varvara to be like this in my head:




Even though really she's basically an orphaned peasant, I had fun making her into something a bit more exotic.  Varvara is spunky and sometimes a little bit fierce.  I liked her a lot, and was a little bit sad that she wasn't an actual historical character.


Varvara sort of moves out of the spy role over time, so I missed that through the rest of the book, though it was still enjoyable. 


I had to deduct a star for Catherine though.


Catherine starts out as a foreigner, unsure of her position, and desperate for solid footing.  So much of the book is spent with Catherine relying on Varvara for guidance and friendship.  I was really turned off when Catherine sort of comes into her own, and casts Varvara aside almost.  Maybe Varvara overestimated herself and her own role, and maybe I was just more sympathetic to Varvara than to Catherine.  But I felt that Catherine turned into a bit of a diva.  How quickly she forgot those who helped her attain her power.

(show spoiler)


Overall, a very solid read, and I look forward to reading the sequel!