As someone with a deep interest in Russian history, I really enjoyed Eva Stachniak’s THE WINTER PALACE. But I’m sorry to say I started skimming this one after about 150 pages and dropped it about a hundred pages after that. Awarded two stars on Goodreads.
EMPRESS OF THE NIGHT presents the stream-of-consciousness mental ramblings of Catherine the Great, as she lies dying. These reminiscences are written as bits and pieces – sometimes, pages of whole conversations she had, sometimes just an apropos Russian saying. Together, these reminiscences cover Catherine’s first days at the Russian court under Empress Elizabeth, her disastrous marriage to Tsar Peter III, his subsequent death, her many lovers, and her relationships with her son and grandchildren.
But one of the things I like best about reading historical fiction is getting to know the people who made history, much more than their strategies or the politics of the time. And because of the structure of this novel, I found I missed the continuity of following people’s stories in a more linear fashion. I simply didn’t feel I was learning who they were or caring much about them. Even Catherine.
I’m sure there are many who will appreciate Stachniak’s approach. I guess I’m just not one of them.
More about the author, Eva Stachniak.