The Winter Palace, by Eva Stachniak, is a little too much history, and not enough fiction.
She is good at bringing the reader into the life of the palace, with all the jockeying for position, backstabbing, and sex. The plot, however, is missing. I thought the premise for this book sounded interesting, and how could Catherine the Great, an illegitimate prince, and a coup be boring?
Read the book. That’s how.
If this book was just supposed to be a sort of narrative history, it would be understandable why it is so dry. But what is the point of making it historical fiction, if you’re not centering it on a story? All the intrigue and plotting, murders and love affairs, and I had to force myself through it. If you are looking for a kind of interesting perspective on life in the palace as it led up to Catherine’s ascension to the throne, go ahead and read. But if you’re looking for an exciting story, this ain’t it.