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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
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  • Lori L. (La Porte, IN)
    A Tale of Two Ambitious Women
    Irina Reyn has written what really could have (should have?) been two novels, one the story of a modern day
    Russian art specialist and the other, the story of the early days of Catherine the Great. I am a fan of historical fiction, and often found myself wanting to hear more about Catherine and less about Tanya and her dealings with the cut-throat world of high stakes art-dealing in modern day Russia. While both women were immigrants, ambitious, and tied to ineffectual husbands, the similarities ended there. Catherine was a much more sympathetic character than the ever-hustling Tanya, but in the end there wasn't enough about either one of them that I found very appealing. This one was just "meh" for me, but might appeal to book clubs as there are definitely points for discussion (the immigrant experience, marriage, ambition, etc.).
  • Gail L. (Dallas, TX)
    The Imperial Wife
    This is an interesting, well-written book that might be a good choice for a book club because it presents many possibilities for discussion. Also there does not seem to be a unanimous opinion about the book.
    There are two stories in the book, one Russian historical and one American contemporary,
    The historical story about Catherine is much stronger than the contemporary story. Both stories lack depth.
    Only the female lead is developed in either story and the author is trying to compare the two characters. This ambitious task does not quite work, unfortunately. As a result the ending is disappointing.
  • Sharon R. (Deerfield, IL)
    A Tale of Two Wives
    This historical novel is written in alternating chapters between present day New York and the mid 1700s Russia. The historical story is of the young Catherine the Great and how she came to rule Russia. The historical chapters are extremely well written, filled with anecdotes and historical facts. I wanted to skip over the present day chapters and just read about Catherine!

    On the other hand I was not fond of our present day heroine Tanya. The art auction sections were fascinating if you have never seen or heard about a real art auction, but Tanya herself was anything but fascinating. She manipulates, controls and pushes her family and friends t her will, even to the point where her husband leaves her. You may find yourself feeling sorry for her until you get to the end of the book and the strange twist that made this reader dislike her even more. I think Book Clubs would have a field day with the present day chapters.
  • Lynda C. (Sault Sainte Marie, MI)
    The Imperial Wife
    I read this technically well written and compelling book in one sitting. The story line gracefully transitions between Tanya, a current day art specialist in New York and Catherine the Great.

    The sections on Catherine skillfully portrayed her ability to shape herself to her situation, her fierce personal ambition, and her willingness to sacrifice anyone and anything in pursuit of her personal goals.

    Many of the situations in the sections on Tanya largely failed to convince me. Many of the situations described seemed to me to be inauthentic and contrived and left me with a feeling that something was missing.

    However, Tanya's character rang true. The background and immigrant experience of Tanya shaped her commitment, drive, and ambition to excel and to overcome every obstacle in her pursuit of recognition and success. She, like Catherine, was willing to make sacrifices for her ambition.

    The story of these two strong women illustrates that human characteristics remain the same no matter what the period of history we inhabit.
  • Marjorie H. (Woodstock, GA)
    Not For Me
    This book read like it was written in a hurry. It's very choppy and goes back and forth between centuries with minimum transitions. I didn't like any of the characters, though the writing was above average. I thought the parallel lives of Tanya and Catherine to be a bit corny and contrived. There just wasn't any depth to the story. I typically enjoy well written historical fiction, but overall, it was a disappointment.
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