Our Bookseller says:
“Dark, gritty, and absolutely wild – this is a woman whose story isn’t often told, but it should be. Catherine is not only ruthless, but also an icon of perseverance and the will to survive and thrive, despite her meager upbringing. But as much as it’s about a great woman who wielded enormous power in Russia, it’s also about someone who never forgot her roots and did what she could for her people. She’s a case study worth attention for feminists and leaders, as she proved an effective partner for a consequential leader in a time when weakness was not an option. Aside from the incredible subject herself, Alpsten did an excellent job of bringing Catherine to life as a multidimensional character, while also building a Russia many of us aren’t familiar with as the setting.”
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.