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The epic, sensuous story of Catherine the Great's ruthless rise to power, through the eyes of a young girl groomed as the Empress's spy in 18th Century Russia.
When Vavara, a young orphaned Polish girl, is brought to serve at Empress Elizabeth's glittering, dangerous court in St Petersburg, she is schooled by the Chancellor himself in skills from lock-picking to love-making, learning above all else to stay silent - and listen. Soon, she is Elizabeth's 'tongue' - her secret eyes and ears.
Then Sophie, a vulnerable young princess, arrives from Prussia as a prospective bride for Elizabeth's heir. Set to spy on her by the Empress, Vavara soon becomes her friend and confidante, and helps her navigate the illicit seductions and the treacherous shifting allegiances of the court.But Sophie's destiny is to become the notorious Catherine the Great. Are her ambitions more lofty and far-reaching than anyone suspected, and will she stop at nothing to achieve absolute power?
About the Author
Eva Stachniak was born in Wroclaw, Poland. She moved to Canada in 1981 and has worked for Radio Canada International and Sheridan College, where she taught English and humanities. Her first short story, “Marble Heroes,” was published by The Antigonish Review in 1994, and her debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Amazon.ca Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2000. She is also the author of Garden of Venus, which has been translated into seven languages. She lives in Toronto, where she is at work on her next novel about Catherine the Great.
Riveting... Stachniak has uncovered a treasure trove of rich material... The real core of Stachniak's tale is that [Catherine and Elizabeth] are women... Casts light over recent Russian history too, which is exactly what historical fiction should do -- Jane Smiley Globe and Mail A wonderful novel, riven with intrigue and startling details, the sort to savour on a long winter evening Daily Telegraph The kind of big busty read that sends you back to the history books The Sunday Times Extraordinarily absorbing... will have you on the edge of your seat Daily Mail A wonderful tale of the Imperial Russia court in all its glittering glory. Eva Stachniak vividly brings to life the early years of the meek young bride who would become the terrifying, fascinating Catherine the Great -- Kate Williams, Author Of England's Mistress And Becoming Queen
Number Of Pages: 440
Published: 1st January 2011
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.2 x 15.4 x 3.5
Weight (kg): 0.612