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The Winter Palace

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Winter Palace (A Novel of the Young Catherine the Great), Eva StachniakEva Stachniak’s The Winter Palace is a colourful tale of the first years spent by Princess Sophie – who in the course of the novel becomes Catherine the Great – in St. Petersburg’s infamous Winter Palace. Told from the point of view of Vavara, a Polish girl who finds herself at the heart of Empress Elizabeth’s court, The Winter Palace is a veritable assault on the senses as well as a thoroughly absorbing tale.

Left an orphan Vavara, the daughter of an impoverished bookbinder who enjoyed the patronage of the royal court is permitted to serve in the court of Russia’s Empress Elizabeth. She begins her life in the palace sewing room but Vavara is a hopeless seamstress and she has to endure the wrath of the critical wardrobe mistress.


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Dr. Dimsdale and Catherine the Great’s Fear of Smallpox

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Eva StachniakEva Stachniak brings us an exciting novel, The Winter Palace, about Catherine The Great’s early days and improbable rise to power as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne. Eva was born in Wroclaw, Poland, and came to Canada in 1981. She has been a radio broadcaster and college English and Humanities lecturer. Her debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and her second novel, Garden of Venus, has been translated into seven languages. Her third novel, The Winter Palace, has been published in Canada (Doubleday), US (Bantam) and the UK (Transworld). She lives in Toronto, where she is working on her second historical novel about Catherine the Great, The Empire of the Night. Curious Book Fans want to thank Eva for sharing some insight into the research she did  for The Winter Palace.

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Smallpox had been one of Catherine the Great’s greatest fears. When she arrived in Russia at 14, a fiancée to the Grand Duke Peter, the disease almost destroyed her future. The Grand Duke contracted smallpox and, even though he eventually recovered, it disfigured his body and made him even more awkward and insecure than he had been before. In the dark, long weeks when Peter’s life hung in the balance, Catherine knew that had he died, she would have been sent back to Zerbst without much ceremony.


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