I got Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten from NetGalley for a fair and honest review
Tsarina is an historical novel about the life of Catherine I of Russia and second wife of Peter the Great. From her illegitimate birth being sold buy her family, through to the introduction to the Russian court and marrying the Tsar, eventually being the Tsarina.
The rags to riches life of Catherine I of Russia is truly a remarkable tale, being born out of wed lock and brought up by her farther and his wife, after being left their by her birth mother, sold into slavery, raped left, destitute, killing people, losing a number of children both when they where young and during pregnancy and marrying the The Tsar of Russia. It would be almost impossible not to write a great novel based on these events and in this, Ellen Alpsten has not let the reader down.
Tsarina, starts when he husband, Peter the great of Russia is on his death bed, it then goes back in time to when Catherine, who was at that time known by the name Marta, was with her family. Telling the story from that point, and every so often going back to the night that her husband died.
The Novel is told in the first person style, using Catherine her self, giving the story a one sided perspective to any events. Catherine her self in novel is no angel, at the start of her the book she is reacting to any given situation, as though she did not want to do this but if I don’t something terrible would have happened to me, in most cases this is correct. However later on in her life, she becomes more proactive. Though being a woman in a man’s world, at a time of upheaval married to a violent man who is also the Tsar of Russia it, there are understandable reasons for it.
Peter the Great her husband is told mainly as a brutal human being who even though he is the Tsar of Russia, he has not had an easy life with Russian politics of that time. This makes him an interesting character as seen through the eyes of Catherine, as he seems brutal one page, and then almost childlike on the next, as he deals with to modernising Russia with brute forces against the him.
In addition the writing style is one that is easy to read, allowing you as a reader in to this world of Russia at the turn of the 18th Century, with all its glory, decadence, fear and brutality. This that the writer Ellen Alpsten did well, which to me is what all good historical fiction, should do, is a really good story well written, not telling it by what happens by a list of dates, that is for factual books, but putting the reader in to the mind of an historical figure so that we the reader can examine, why they took the actions and decisions they did.
Another thing an historical novel should do is give, the reader an interest in finding out more about the historical people, time and place where the book was set. Which after reading this book, I can defiantly that this book has made me want to do just that, with all this in mind I can highly recommend that you pick up and read Ellen Alpsten, new book Tsarina
Comment below if you want to read this book or on what is your favourite historical novel
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