The 18th-century Tsarist court was a menacing place, full of intrigue and double-dealing, where the Empress Elizabeth, imperious and malicious, ruled by fear.
When the young Polish emigrée Vavara, is thrown into this melee she is quickly enrolled to spy on the Empress, something she learns to do with aplomb.
Things change, though, when Sophie Anhalt-Zerbst is brought to court to marry the heir, Peter. Without friends and unloved, Vavara becomes her confidante, putting her own position in jeopardy, and abetting Sophie on her path to becoming Catherine the Great.
An extraordinarily absorbing book, The Winter Palace will have you on the edge of your seat.