The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
author Eva Stachniak comes this passionate novel that illuminates, as
only fiction can, the early life of one of history’s boldest women. The Winter Palace
tells the epic story of Catherine the Great’s improbable rise to
power—as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible
servant close to the throne.
Her name is Barbara—in Russian,
Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of
the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most
eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and
spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to
lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for
opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from
Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the
indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry
the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous
ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.
Sophie needs is an insider at court, a loyal pair of eyes and ears who
knows the traps, the conspiracies, and the treacheries that surround
her. Varvara will become Sophie’s confidante—and together the two young
women will rise to the pinnacle of absolute power.
details and intense drama, Eva Stachniak depicts Varvara’s secret
alliance with Catherine as the princess grows into a legend—through an
enforced marriage, illicit seductions, and, at last, the shocking coup
to assume the throne of all of Russia.
Impeccably researched and magnificently written, The Winter Palace is an irresistible peek through the keyhole of one of history’s grandest tales.
The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak (Excerpt)