Thursday 22 July 2021

Book Review: Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten

Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten book cover

AD* | St. Petersburg, 1725. Peter the Great lies dying in his magnificent Winter Palace. The weakness and treachery of his only son has driven his father to an appalling act of cruelty and left the empire without an heir. Russia risks falling into chaos. Into the void steps the woman who has been by his side for decades: his second wife, Catherine Alexeyevna, as ambitious, ruthless and passionate as Peter himself.

Born into devastating poverty, Catherine used her extraordinary beauty and shrewd intelligence to ingratiate herself with Peter’s powerful generals, finally seducing the Tsar himself. But even amongst the splendour and opulence of her new life - the lavish feasts, glittering jewels, and candle-lit hours in Peter’s bedchamber - she knows the peril of her position. Peter’s attentions are fickle and his rages powerful; his first wife is condemned to a prison cell, her lover impaled alive in Red Square. And now Catherine faces the ultimate test: can she keep the Tsar’s death a secret as she plays a lethal game to destroy her enemies and take the Crown for herself?

Thrilling and intense, what makes Tsarina all the more exciting is that this fantastic tale is based on a true story. 

Catherine I of Russia was a remarkable woman. Born in extreme poverty, Marta - as she was then known - suffered greatly at the hands of one man after another. However, when fate threw opportunities towards her, Marta wasted no time in grabbing them with both hands outstretched. 

Despite her humble beginnings, Marta/Catherine was an incredibly savvy woman who used her good looks and her cunning in equal measure. Determined to make a better life for herself, she found herself in increasingly higher circles where the stakes climbed ever higher. 

Catherine's Russia was ruthless, fickle and full of danger. Just like the complicated web spun throughout her life, it was interesting, engaging, and unexpected.

Marta's story was a joy to read and I relished the opportunity to learn more about this amazing historical figure. It was clear on every page that so much research and passion had been poured into the book. Every last detail has been carefully considered and the result is a beautifully crafted window into the life of Catherine I. 

Rating: 4 stars

Tsarina is available to buy now. 

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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