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Tsarina

por Ellen Alpsten

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
23620115,266 (3.7)6
"Before there was Catherine the Great, there was Catherine Alexeyevna: the first woman to rule Russia in her own right. Ellen Alpsten's rich, sweeping first-person narrative is the story of her rise to power. 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 splendor 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 on a stake 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? From the sensuous pleasures of a decadent aristocracy, to the incense-filled rites of the Orthodox Church and the terror of Peter's torture chambers, the intoxicating and dangerous world of Imperial Russia is brought to vivid life. Tsarina is the story of one remarkable woman whose bid for power would transform the Russian Empire"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 20 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Brutal. Life in the time of Peter the Great was harsh. Winters were dismal and made even harder with Peter the Great taxing and waging war on Sweden. The titular character survives through poverty and rape.

There is a lot of rape, adultry and sex in the scene. A LOT. With so much in the book, it quickly lost its effect.

Reading the book was brutal too. I got into fits of rage-reading just to finish the book. I didn't particular feel anything for the titular character Marta (later became Catherine, not Catherine the Great). Her rise from poverty to Tsarina made me sick with the inequalities between classes (and I thought economic equality was bad now), and even between favorites and non-favorites in Peter the Great's court.

I thought I might get a picture more of Peter the Great .. who was more Peter the Mad with his reforms and whims.

I am thankful for getting a window into this time period and culture. At least, I'll give the book that.

( )
  wellington299 | Feb 19, 2022 |
Historical fiction, biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs are genres I started reading when I was in elementary school and, when one grabs me, still read today. I enjoy learning about people, events, or cultures. Now, my interests are more in the ancient worlds or cultures that predates the 20th century, I will still read 20th century stories. Tsarina was a fascinating read.

I do not know a lot about Russian history, but I did learn a lot reading this story. I have only heard a hand full of Romanovs: Catherine the Great and of course the last Romanov family. It was interesting seeing the history through the eyes of someone not noble or born in Russia. The journey of the build of Saint Petersburg and tragedy of the war going on during the time.

The story of Marta Helena Skowrońska formally known as Catherine I was a true rag to riches/ Cinderella story. She was born a serf and died as a Tsarina/ Empress of Russia. What is sad, was I was not all surprised how her story was, knowing how women were treated in pre-20th century. I would say she was a fighter, strong willed, and remarkable given what she went through. But she was also careful knowing her position of being Peter the Great’s lover and later wife.

The author did an amazing job writing this story. I believe the author imagined some of what they wrote since records do not have personal information like that, but with the time era, it makes sense. People back in those times were vicious. I can see nobles being partiers and recklessly spend their money. Women and girls being treated as property. Life does not seem all that different in today’s world (with many exceptions for us women!)

I recommend reading this if you want to learn about a strong woman. Yes, there is a lot of rape, sex, murder, and drunken parties, but given the time era, what do you expect? It was still a great read with an interesting story.

*I received an ARC from NetGalley and this is my honest opinion. ( )
  Charliwriter | May 12, 2021 |
This novel was based on facts (that is known) from Peter the Great's reign in the late 1600's to around 1727 on how Catherine (aka Marta), rose from a poor young girl to Tsarina, ruler of Russia. The author states that there is nothing recorded on Marta in her early years and she took a few liberties describing her family life. For me, the story reminded me of A Gentleman in Moscow -plenty of Russian names and conflicts - and very long, almost 500 pages. I was lost in places, confused at times of the characters (are they good or evil?) Alpsten describes the extravagant parties, drinking, sex, abuse, torture, famine, conflict and way of life in those days to such an extent, I wanted to hide my eyes and made my very grateful I didn't live during that time!
I won this book from the Book Club Cookbook giveaway - Thank you! It was an interesting read.
3.5 stars ( )
  Dannadee | Mar 7, 2021 |
I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from NetGalley and St Martin’s Press in exchange for an unbiased review.

In 1725 Catherine Alexeyeyna although born into extreme poverty rises to become a powerful force in Russia as tsarina. Formally known as Marta, she was given to Vassilley to work as a maid. He was a powerful and cruel man who uses people for his own purpose. Her life within that mansion was traumatic yet becomes a turning point in her life. The story begins with Catherine dealing with imminent death of the tsar her husband Peter. The treachery of his brother left no heir to his throne as he lie dying since his living children from Catherine were daughters Anna, Elizabeth and Natalya.

Archbishop of Novgorod, Feifan Promopivich had helped Peter draft his will and stands to read it at Peter’s deathbed. Many are anxious to the future of Russia given there is no direct transfer of power. Catherine wishes to keep his death a secret to avoid disrupting the current balance of power in Russia.

Peter’s first wife Evdokia banished to a convent 30 years ago leaving her son Alexey whom Peter always despised for his timid nature. Although Petrushka, Peter’s grandson, is the rightly heir to throne he is not present at death bed which has Catherine jostling to arrange her role as Peter’s successor.

The story proceeds to describe in excruciating detail the history leading up to this day. The novel clearly explains the strength and determination of Marta who becomes Catherine a great and influential Russian woman. About half way through I found all the day to day details dragging the story to a snail’s pace. While some of the events seem pertinent to explain the atrocities of war in Russia, much of it felt too cinematic in nature.

This book would most likely appeal to those with an extreme interest in Russian history. It was just an overwhelming story for me to totally enjoy in its entirety. ( )
  marquis784 | Feb 1, 2021 |
In Tsarina, Ellen Alpsten imagines the life of a peasant widowed soon after her marriage, claimed as a war prize and handed up the ranks until she catches the eye of Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia.

Marta may be illiterate, but she uses her wiles, wit, and physical attractiveness to become Peter's favorite bed partner. She becomes necessary to his happiness as a man and as a ruler. Renamed Catherine, Peter marries her and then crowns her his equal-- Tsarina.

The novel follows Marta/Catherine's life, taking readers into the peasant villages and the brutal life of serfs, into war, the building of St. Petersburg, and the decadent royal courts with all its intrigue and shifting alliances.

Since the novel is written from the viewpoint of Catherine, we can't expect to understand much about Peter's inner life. Which is too bad, since he was a complicated man who pushed Russia to Westernize and modernize but still employed brutality and ruled with a heavy hand. His excesses resulted in terrible health problems. His volatile temper and complete power resulted in the torture and murder of his enemies. It appears that Catherine was able to calm his temper, and minister to him when he suffered seizures.

I did expect to understand more about Catherine's inner thoughts. Did she truly love Peter, or, as a powerless female, was she merely using her wit to survive? Late in their story, she fears Peter and has doubts.

That Peter loved Catherine appears to be true if we believe the love letters he sent her.

Catherine's twelve pregnancies resulted in only two surviving children, but not the sons Peter so desperately desired to keep his dynasty intact. Upon Peter's death, Catherine had to quickly react to maintain control of the government.

The violence of the age comes through, the court entertainment revolving around mistreatment of jesters and anyone the royals decided to force into humiliating situations, including physical abuse, the torturing of political or romantic rivals, real or perceived, to downright murder.

Readers will gain insight into the development of Russia. Peter envisioned a modern Russia, emulating France and European civilization. It required the heavy taxation of serfs, forced labor to build St. Petersburg which would protect Russia's western border and access to the North Sea for trading. Meanwhile, he fought endless wars with Sweden, Persia, and the Ottoman Empire.

Alpsten's debut novel has its drawbacks, and yet still was compelling; Catherine's story is at once that of a fairy-tale princess and of a powerless pawn struggling to survive. My Goodreads friends highly rated Tsarina, swept away.

I did not appreciate the frequent, descriptive sex scenes of rape or lovemaking, which to me were not well written and took up too much space. I really don't need to know about parting thighs, etc., when knowing feelings and thoughts in response could add depth to a character. The writing is at times awkward. But I have to admit, I did not walk away from the story.

I received a free book through the Book Club Cook Book. My review is fair and unbiased ( )
  nancyadair | Jan 25, 2021 |
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"Before there was Catherine the Great, there was Catherine Alexeyevna: the first woman to rule Russia in her own right. Ellen Alpsten's rich, sweeping first-person narrative is the story of her rise to power. 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 splendor 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 on a stake 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? From the sensuous pleasures of a decadent aristocracy, to the incense-filled rites of the Orthodox Church and the terror of Peter's torture chambers, the intoxicating and dangerous world of Imperial Russia is brought to vivid life. Tsarina is the story of one remarkable woman whose bid for power would transform the Russian Empire"--

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