ARC Review, Biography, Book Review, Historical Fiction

Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten

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.

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. 

I give this book a 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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