Catherine The Great is one of the most intriguing and powerful figures in the history of women rulers. Eva Stachniak is the bestselling author of the award-winning novel Necessary Lies and the Garden of Venus. Her recent novel The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine The Great tells a tale of young princess Sophie's destiny to rule as Catherine The Great. Her story is told through the voice of Sophie's servant Barbara. Any member of royalty knows that loyalty is the key to a powerful monarchy. Barbara becomes Sophie's confidante and does whatever it takes to align herself with the powers that be. She conspires, spies, and manuipulates to suit both her own ambitions and Sophie's desire to run the Russian royal court. The Winter Palace is an intriguing saga with a skillfully crafted combination of historical fiction and vivid imagination.
Excerpt from The Winter Palace
I could have warned her when she arrived in Russia, this petty German princess from Zerbst, a town no bigger than St. Petersburg’s Summer Garden, this frail girl who would become Catherine.
This court is a new world to you, I could have said to her, a slippery ground. Do not be deceived by tender looks and flattering words, promises of splendor and triumph. This place is where hopes shrivel and die. This is where dreams turn to ashes.
She has charmed you already, our Empress. With her simplicity, the gentle touch of her hand, the tears she dried from her eyes at her first sight of you. With the vivacity of her speech and gestures, her brisk impatience with etiquette. How kind and frank Empress Elizabeth Petrovna is, you have said. Others have, too. Many others. But frankness can be a mask, a disguise, as her predecessor has learned far too late.
Here in the Russian court, I could have warned the pretty newcomer from Zerbst, life is a game and every player is cheating. Everyone watches everyone else. There is no room in this palace where you can be truly alone. Behind these walls there are corridors, a whole maze of them. For those who know, secret passages allow access where none is suspected. Panels open, bookcases move, sounds travel through hidden pipes. Every word you say may be repeated and used against you. Every friend you trust may betray you.
Your trunks will be searched. Double bottoms and hollowed books will not hold their secrets for long. Your letters will be copied before they are sent on their way. When your servant complains that an intimate piece of your clothing is missing, it may be because your scent is preserved in a corked bottle for the time when a hound is sent to sniff out your presence.
Keep your hands on your pockets. Learn the art of deception. When you are questioned, even in jest, even in passing, you have mere seconds to hide your thoughts, to split your soul and conceal what you do not want known. The eyes and ears of an inquisitor have no equals.
Listen to me.
The one you do not suspect is the most dangerous of spies.
Excerpted from The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak with permission from Doubleday Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited.
Read more from The Winter Palace on the Random House of Canada website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eva Stachniak was born in Poland and moved to Canada in 1981. She lives in Toronto where she is working on the second book of her Catherine The Great novels. The Empire of The Night will tell Catherine's story from her own point of view. You can read more about Eva Stachniak and her novels on her website www.evastachniak.com, follow @EvaStachniak on Twitter, find Eva on Facebook and The Winter Palace on Good Reads.
YUMMY MUMMY BOOK CLUB
The #YMBC will be discussing The Winter Palace with special guest author Eva Stachniak on March 14th from 9:30-11:00pm EDT. To join the chat follow host @YMCbookalicious and use the hashtag #WinterPalace to participate. Using Tweetchat or Tweetgrid to follow the discussion is recommended. Find out more information on the #YMBC by visiting www.bookalicious.ca and sign up for the Bookalicious Newsletter for future updates.
Eva Stachniak will be appearing at locations in Canada.
February 27, 2012 in Vancouver, BC, at CBC Studio One Book Club. More info and time TBA.
April 10, 2012 in Toronto, ON, at the Toronto Public Library, 40 St. Clair Ave. E. in the Deer Park Program Room - 2nd Floor at 2:00 pm.
April 18, 2012 in Toronto, ON, at the Jane/Dundas Library, 620 Jane Street, at 7:00 pm.
April 19, 2012 in Toronto, ON, at the High Park Library, 228 Roncesvalles Avenue, at 6:45 pm.
BOOKALICIOUS BOOK GRAB GIVEAWAY
Random House of Canada is giving away copies of The Winter Palace
to two lucky Bookalicious readers who leaves a comment in the "click here to spill it!" comment bubble below. Good luck!
Yummy Rules and Regulations
You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up
! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until February 24, 2012. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org. Please mark the email email@example.com as a "safe sender" when you enter a Bookalicious giveaway and respond within 1 week to claim your prize!
Wanda Lynne Young