Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten

9781526606419 Bloomsbury
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Alpsten's colourful narrative does full justice to her extraordinary career' Sunday Times'With its sprawling canvas and huge cast ... it's an entertaining romp through the endless intrigue, violence and debauchery of court life' Mail on Sunday'A vivid page-turner of a debut' The TimesLover. Murderer.

Mother. Meet TSARINA, the most powerful woman history ever forgot. Spring 1699: Illegitimate, destitute and strikingly beautiful, Marta has survived the brutal Russian winter in her remote Baltic village.

Sold by her family into household labour at the age of fifteen, Marta survives by committing a crime that will force her to go on the run. A world away, Russia's young ruler, Tsar Peter I, passionate and iron-willed, has a vision for transforming the traditionalist Tsardom of Russia into a modern, Western empire. Countless lives will be lost in the process.

Falling prey to the Great Northern War, Marta cheats death at every turn, finding work as a washerwoman at a battle camp. One night at a celebration, she encounters Peter the Great. Relying on her wits and her formidable courage, and fuelled by ambition, desire and the sheer will to live, Marta will become Catherine I of Russia.

But her rise to the top is ridden with peril; how long will she survive the machinations of Peter's court, and more importantly, Peter himself?