“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
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.
Overall, a very solid read, and I look forward to reading the sequel!