Here is my roundup of what I read in January, in approximately the order I would rank them in.
Though what I read doesn't line up exactly with my monthly TBR, I am loving having a reading plan. I did discover that I need to anticipate more audiobooks in my plan, and two of these selections give you a hint about something I got talked into over Christmas break! On to February's selections!
I was going to give this book three stars 2/3 of the way through. But the ending, for me, was different and I just had to give it another star. This story of Catherine the Great's rise to power is told through the eyes of Varenka, a friend and spy for Catherine. This is a story of their friendship, of loyalty, and sadly a story of how completely power corrupts. The ending surprised me and I don't know why, in hindsight the author practically gave it away half way through the book with a comment that immediately came to mind when I realized what had happened. To say more would spoil it. But what a well done, human story about these two women. I enjoyed it. Definitely recommend.
Enjoying this one. Maybe it's my lack of familiarity with Catherine the Great, all the twists are a surprise to me.
Also, the undercurrent of this book reads like your classic underdog story. Refreshing take on, not sure what to call it - "regal" historical fiction. Catherine, though married to the heir to the throne, is portrayed as defenseless, a pawn who's been taken advantage of, and she's slowly learning how to gain and cultivate power with the help of a loyal friend.
I also like the loyalty in the friendship between the two women.
From the moment I started listening to this book, I could tell that it was something unique. It was probably a novel that I would have enjoyed more in print than as an audiobook. Listening too it, I found my mind wandering and got lost in the disjointed storytelling.
Beginning with the scene of Catherine's dying moments, Empress of the Night has a dreamlike quality of the empress' life flashing before her eyes. Instead of a comprehensive biography, the reader is given random snippets that stand out to Catherine as her last breaths slip away. Some scenes are told in exquisite detail, while others are never mentioned. Most of the focus is on Catherine's legendary love-life.
There is some beautiful prose in this novel, but not enough of a distinct plot to keep my interest in this format.