Monday, March 05, 2012

What is Eva Stachniak reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace.

Her entry begins:
I have just finished reading The Appointment, by Herta Müller. I’ve wanted to read her for some time not only because she is a superb writer and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2009. Müller grew up in Communist Rumania while I grew up in Communist Poland, we are both emigrants, of the same generation, and such similarities of fate are important to me.

As soon as I started reading The Appointment I knew how much our experience of totalitarianism differed. In the “Socialist prison camp,” as we referred to the Communist block, Ceausescu's Romania was in a league of its own. Life in Communist Poland may have been bleak, humiliating and often absurd, but...[read on]
About The Winter Palace, from the publisher:
From award-winning 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.

What 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.

With dazzling 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.
Learn more about the book and author at Eva Stachniak's website.

Writers Read: Eva Stachniak.

--Marshal Zeringue