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Empress of the Night: A Novel of Catherine the Great Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 25, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (March 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553808133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553808131
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Eva] Stachniak’s absorbing novel opens readers’ hearts to an extraordinary and misunderstood woman. . . . Wonderfully, lyrically written, Stachniak’s story vibrates with passion, drama and intrigue. This is a feast for fans.”RT Book Reviews
 
“Stachniak’s insight into the opulent lives of Russia’s rulers continues in this reflective second novel. . . . Historical fiction fans will appreciate this personal account of a formidable and, indeed, infamous ruler.”Library Journal
 
“The book takes on a dreamlike quality. . . . Ambitious . . . moving . . . structurally complex and psychologically intense . . . vivid descriptions.”Quill & Quire
 
“Stachniak brings to life one of the most fascinating—and controversial—female rulers of all time.”DuJour
 
Empress of the Night casts light on Catherine’s life with unflinching honesty and intimacy. This fun novel of lovers, intrigue, and malicious and manipulative nobility keeps readers enthralled with every page.”Virtuoso Life

About the Author

Eva Stachniak was born in Wrocław, Poland. She moved to Canada in 1981 and has worked for Radio Canada International and Sheridan College, where she taught English and humanities. Her debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2000. Her first novel of Catherine the Great, The Winter Palace, was included in The Washington Post’s 2011 list of most notable fiction. Stachniak lives in Toronto, where she is at work on her next novel.

More About the Author

I was born in Wrocław, Poland.

I came to Canada in 1981 on an English scholarship to McGill University where I defended my doctoral thesis in 1988. In Poland I taught at the English Department of the University of Wrocław.

In 1984-86 I worked for Radio Canada International, the Polish Section, in Montreal, writing and producing radio programs about Canada. In 1988 I joined the faculty of Sheridan College where I taught English and humanities courses until 2007.

My first short story, "Marble Heroes," was published by the Antigonish Review in 1994, and my debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Amazon.com/Books in CanadaFirst Novel Award in 2000.

I live in Toronto.

Customer Reviews

I thought that this book was a good read to curl up with.
Stephanie Manley
While the author does take some artistic license, she did a great job remaining true to the historical facts and details of Catherine's reign.
Suzanne in GA
The way it’s told IS creative, but at the same time, I was often confused and felt like I was just flipping pages to get to the end.
Leeanna Chetsko

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Cecil Bothwell VINE VOICE on January 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Eva Stachniak has delivered a riveting historical novel in Empress of the Night. She has employed the device of relating her subject's life as flashback and remembrance during the final 36 hours of the woman's life: from the stroke that felled her down to her final breath. In that span we are led through the tumult and triumph of a trajectory from young "royal" to the power and constraint of absolute monarchy.

Stachniak convincingly evokes the life and times of her protagonist, with all of the drama and pomp, all of the subterfuge and finesse, and keeps her readers' eager attention. This is a decidedly gripping novel, well worth several hours of your time.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Viviane Crystal VINE VOICE on January 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Catherine the Great arrived to begin her training as Grand Duchess, naïve and much maligned by her future mother-in-law, Elizabeth Romanov. The pattern was set: she would appear to be a cooperative, willing wife to a future Emperor, ensure that her devout attitude was appropriately noticed, and at the same time learned about the internal and external politics, treaties, battles, finance and more that would be part and parcel of Russian government. Empress of the Night… is written in an unusual style, reflecting Catherine’s thoughts, emotions, and spirit for all that occurred throughout her training and actual rule of Russia.
Catherine and others as well see her husband as a spineless man incapable of ruling, obviously created so by his imperious mother who trusted no one, feared everyone, and therefore ruled with an iron fist smothering all disagreement and conspiracies, real or imagined. Catherine rules after the Empress’ death. But surprisingly, she spends more time reflecting on the slew of lovers who coveted not only her body but her power as well. Her fiercest passion is depicted as a love that could never survive so much intensity with Grigory Potemkin. Unfortunately for him, her foremost dedication was for her country and this decision was the cause of much hurt for him.
Catherine never boasts of her power but does frequently state that she was gifted at discerning between those who wanted the best for Russia and those who wanted the best for themselves and manifested that in scheming, traitorous ways. We read about her anxiety when dealing with the Poles, Prussians, French, and later on in the story the Turks. At the same time, she is interested in lavish spending on the one hand for her home and gardens but frugality meant to help promote the Russian economy.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Trudie Barreras VINE VOICE on January 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I first selected this book to read, I think it may have been as a result of a bit of nostalgia for my youthful self, because for many years historical fiction was my favorite type of reading. However, as I got into it, I realized that Eva Stachniak's book is better characterized as fictionalized biography. The narrative is indeed extremely powerful and high impact. Beginning at the crucial moment when Catherine is struck down by a stroke, it traces her story via flashbacks produced as her consciousness struggles with final dissolution.

I was extremely grateful for the "Cast of Most Important Characters" the author provided at the beginning of the book. Indeed, I referred back to it on several occasions, and even once or twice used it to "Google" a person referenced in Stachniak's narrative. This offered a good deal of additional insight which I found very helpful in adding depth.

There were several things about the book that challenged my "personal prejudices". In general, I prefer narratives in the past tense rather than the present tense. At the beginning, before the pattern of occasional returns to the chronology of Catherine's last hours became clear to me, I found it quite confusing - which as I progressed, I realized must be exactly what the author intended. And, of course, I found certain aspects totally appalling (though probably absolutely true to known facts), especially the way in which Catherine was completely prevented from having any interaction with her first child, Paul, by the vindictiveness of the Empress Elizabeth.

Most appalling, perhaps, is the description of the lack of reasonable medical care which even extremely wealthy and important people suffered at the end of the 18th Century.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kitten Kisser VINE VOICE on April 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a huge fan of historical fiction. Never have I read a book as badly done as this! Catherine has a stroke while in the water closet. From this humiliating point at the end of her life she experiences flashbacks until she finally dies. The flashbacks are disjointed. The entire novel is choppy. It is nearly impossible to care about a single event. The book does not flow in a way that allows the reader to become lost in the novel. This is not a story; it's a mish mash of fragmented tales without any way to truly mark time. I learned nothing important or memorable about Catherine the Great. The authors portrayal of Catherine makes her into a weak, vain & oversexed woman. Reading this book one would think, what exactly made this woman great? Having a stroke while having her toilet? The book is a disgrace. There are a lot of fantastic historical fiction books to choose from. This is nothing more than a poorly written book who's entirety is an insult to such an important woman in history.
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