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?
©2011 Eva Stachniak (P)2014 Random House Audiobooks
Fantastic story set amongst the lavish Russian aristocracy
I really enjoyed this book, as a previous review said, stick with the narrator because the accent will add to the story bringing with it a feel of actually listening to Varvara telling the story. The ficklness of the Empress and the Naivety of the young Catherine when she enters the Russian arena are good contrasts and it was good to see how she developed and grew. Such a wonderful story.
A beautifully told story, rich in detail. I'm always fascinated by political intriguing and this is basically the whole premise of the story. I struggled a little due to the complexity of the names but the central characters are the only ones that really matter.
The narrator takes a wee while to get used to - her accent, intonation and pausing isn't what I'd normally expect and it almost put me off but once you tune in it adds to the beauty of the story.
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