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The Imperial Wife

by Irina Reyn

The Imperial Wife by Irina Reyn X
The Imperial Wife by Irina Reyn
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There are currently 19 member reviews
for The Imperial Wife
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  • Judi R. (Jericho, NY)
    A Taste of Russian History
    The Imperial Wife weaves together two stories of Russian immigrant women in two different periods in history, their flirtations, their marriages, and their strong personalities. The author beautifully emerses the reader into the era of Catherine the Great as well as the Russian art world of present day. Her descriptions of art, food, fashion and decor are beautifully descriptive. This was a very enjoyable read.
  • Charla
    A trip through time
    This is a wonderful book that takes the reader on a trip through modern day NYC, as well as to Russia during the time of Catherine the Great (Sophia Agusta Frederica). The transition between the two time periods flow flawlessly. During the modern era in NYC, the protagonist is Tanya, a Russian expat. Tanya works for a high end auction house in Manhattan. She is an expert on Russian Art. Of course the protagonist in Russia during the 1700's is Sophie, the future Catherine the Great.

    The auction house that Tanya works with comes into possession of a priceless Russian artifact, which Tanya becomes responsible for. It is at this time the two stories begin to merge. While Tanya is trying to make sense of her husband's disappearance, Sophie, the future Catherine the Great is facing a new life in Russia. She has gone to Russia to be married. Both Tanya and Sophie are having marital issues that seem to stem from their determined inner strength and their husbands' egos.

    This book is beautifully written. The two time periods blend together perfectly. The way Irina Reyn was able to blend the two time periods together is reminiscent of Kate Morton's work. Anyone that loves history, art, and romance will likely enjoy this book. I received this book from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review.
  • Esther L. (Newtown, PA)
    The Imperial Wife
    I really enjoyed the intertwining stories of Russian emigre Tanya and her life in New York and Russia in the age of Catherine the Great. The look inside the business of the auction house was not a subject that I'd read about before and I found it very interesting. Reyn captured the psyche of the Russian emigre community,as well as the wealthy oligarch lifestyle.

    I was a little disappointed in the ending...would have loved another hundred pages or so! Many thanks to BookBrowse for the chance to read "The Imperial Wife.
  • Paula J.
    The Imperial Wife
    I was enthralled with Irina Reyn's writing on the first page, and she keeps it up. Her writing draws you in, and fully describes the characters and scenes.

    This is a story of a Russian immigrant who is an art dealer, interwoven with the story of Catherine the Great. Reyn draws many parallels between the two women. There are a number of themes underlying the stories, but Reyn doesn't beat you over the head with them. If you pick them up, good. But if not, you're still enjoying some great writing.

    The only place this book faltered for me was about halfway through Tanya's story.
  • Renee P. (Sanford, FL)
    Not sure I liked this one
    Books that skip back and forth from century to century usually leave me cold. I find it too distracting trying to keep differing story lines straight, especially when I am enjoying one story line but not so much the other. That is what I found happening to me with this book. I really enjoyed the chapters involving Sophie/Catherine but felt that story line was hampered and somewhat garbled by the constant shifting to today's Katya and her supposedly immigrant angst that she really, really wallowed in. I know we were supposed to identify with her inner struggle to not feel out of place in a country she was not born in, but darned if that did not just get old after a while, and too, the ultra-rich clients she moaned about but sure did not have a problem enjoying the amenities they offered just did not sit well either. Not going into detail here so as not be a spoiler, but the ending, really, really felt flat and enlightening. It will be interesting to watch the discussion on this one.
  • Viqui G. (State College, PA)
    The Russian Wives
    This novel alternates the stories of two ambitious women who have to struggle to become successful. The author compares and contrasts Catherine the Great's life with that of present day Tanya Vandermotter, a Russian art expert working for an art auction house. Both women have common traits: they are both immigrants and feel isolated from their family culture. They are willing to sacrifice personal relationships to get ahead. They confront moral dilemmas along their path of success which causes them to make difficult choices. Although the author parallels these womens' story arc, the result is sometimes a bit contrived because the differences in Catherine's closeted and isolated world in 1700's Russia is hard to compare with Tanya's busy jet-setting world based in present day NYC. However, the author's writing is fluid and intelligent and usually easy to follow. Overall, the novel was enjoyable and the topic was enlightening. Unfortunately there was a lot of 'over the top' description of immigrant angst and the ending was weak so I only gave the novel 3 stars.
  • Patricia S. (Chicago, IL)
    The Imperial Wife
    The Imperial Wife by Irina Reyn is a book I really wanted to like more than I did. I usually love books of this type, split between the past and present, and the premise of the book was intriguing. Tanya works as the Russian expert at an auction house and is handling an artifact that may be the Order of Saint Catherine, once belonging to Catherine the Great. I know nothing about the fine art world and was immediately captivated by Tanya and her various Russian buyers, eager to be the first bidders on the jewelry, although there are hints that it may not be genuine. The bidders, Russian strongmen now trying to develop a softer side, are avid collectors, interested in bringing Russian art back to Russia, or maybe just their own private collections. Tanya is married to Carl, an author with one very successful book, who is trying to write another, and dealing with writer's block and, I think, depression. This part of the story was not as well done. Tanya and Carl didn't interest me as much, the characters weren't appealing somehow. Tanya is pretty clueless and Carl not well-developed, and I found myself losing patience with them both. The sections in the past, leading up to Catherine's coup to become Empress were better but other novelists have also written about this period in Catherine's life, so there was nothing new. I also found myself irritated by small things Reyn includes—mimeographed sheets? Gas station attendants who actually pump gas? What time period is this? Yet the modern Russians are clearly contemporary.
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