By: Ellen Alpstein
I enjoyed the (not really) historical drama The Great earlier this year so when I was offered a chance to read Tsarina as part of a blog tour I was like sign me up! Especially seeing as how the book is about the first Empress Catherine and Peter the Great.
Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the e-arc of the book. It didn’t change by opinion of the book in anyway.
So the book is more so about Marta a poor serf whose sold early on by her stepmother whose not exactly a bad woman but she wants to eat and that’s just how it was done. And here I should say TRIGGER WARNING- Rape and assault which runs especially rampant before Marta meets Peter.
There’s also graphic descriptions of punishments the “nobles” doled out. What happens to the stable boy in the beginning… Stomach churning.
But then Marta meets Peter whose dragging Russia more toward the West and seemingly constantly into wars. This is a rough world and time period and also an outrageous place as far as the court is concerned. Peter had pretty much no filter and occasionally you’d get people at dinner parties just throwing down and having sex.
Oh the book is told through Marta’s POV and even when she goes Empress she remains a pretty likable character. I mean she makes some questionable choices at the end that are like, “Really? Really where have you been for the last two decades girl?”
But hey she’s human.
The girl starts as Marta a woman and serf with no power who can literally be killed with no one batting an eye and winds up as the Empress of Russia in her own right. Credit where it’s due.
Her relationship with Peter which does play as a true relationship for all the good and ill but Marta/Catherine also can’t really ever get away from the fact without his love she’s at best forgotten in a covent like the first wife and at worst a dead woman.
In other words there’s a lot to take in throughout Tsarina. And there is a big part of me that couldn’t help think maybe this should have been the Peter and Catherine in the Great cause it would have made a great television show… and somehow more outrageous.