I can add this to my list of historical fictions. I have a serious problem. And this book is good. It is a great disservice to be such a history nerd. I feel like sometimes it ruins reading historical fiction works. I know too much about the realities of the lives of these people to get too attached to their fictitious representations.
There are a number of things I really liked about this book and a few that I didn’t. Obviously I loved the fact that it’s historical. Catherine the Great is somebody whom I have only more recently taken an interest in. However, being the great ruler that she was, this is not the first time she has come across my radar. Ficklin used great, graphic wording to describe the world of Empress Elizabeth of Russia. There is the perfect swirl of romance, danger, fun, passion, fire and ambition. So much is known about the Great Empress, but it is her youth, and beginnings in the strange courts of Russia that Ficklin has chosen to zero in on.
Other than the ebook version being a bit wonky with its layout and just not very good, the flow of the book itself was great. It kept pace. At no point did I feel the need to put the book down or take a break. I didn’t necessarily find myself tearing through it to find out what would happen next either. It was a leisurely read that was perfect for lounging on our porch swing this evening.
Over all, I wish the characters had shown a bit more dimension and dynamic growth. It is obvious that this is a first book in a series and I get that. The scene and the foundation must be laid for all involved. I could tell that Ficklin really wanted to show a change and growth in Sophie (Catherine), but I felt that it fell just a bit short of her goal. Granted, most of the characters aren’t supposed to have much dimension, that IS the point. As the rest of them stay stagnant, it is Catherine who is to rise to the occasion. I found myself unable to quite connect to Sophie/Catherine in my usual immersive way. I am hoping in the next book, her transformation from naive, young woman will more fully blossom to her full potential.
I am certainly looking forward to Sherry Ficklin’s next installment in Catherine’s story. I would recommend this to my students being that is it “clean” as far as sexual and lexicon content are concerned. It was an entertaining read and enjoyable as far as summer reads go.