The Imperial Wife
by Irina Reyn Published by Thomas Dunne Books
on July 19th 2016 Genres: Contemporary Women
, Historical Pages:
Two women's lives collide when a priceless Russian artifact comes to light. Tanya Kagan, a rising specialist in Russian art at a top New York auction house, is trying to entice Russia's wealthy oligarchs to bid on the biggest sale of her career, The Order of Saint Catherine, while making sense of the sudden and unexplained departure of her husband. As questions arise over the provenance of the Order and auction fever kicks in, Reyn takes us into the world of Catherine the Great, the infamous 18th-century empress who may have owned the priceless artifact, and who it turns out faced many of the same issues Tanya wrestles with in her own life. Suspenseful and beautifully written, The Imperial Wife asks whether we view female ambition any differently today than we did in the past. Can a contemporary marriage withstand an “Imperial Wife”?
The Imperial Wife follows the perspective of two women, a modern woman named Tanya and the Empress of Russia, famously called Catherine the Great, in their struggles with both marriage and becoming something more than an outsider in the world they inhabit. Catherine wore her Order long ago, but now it rests in Tanya’s hands to sell to the highest bidder. Tanya must make decisions for what she thinks is best for the Order and for herself.
I found The Imperial Wife to be a little underwhelming. There were certain things I found annoying, such as Carl. Actually, he was the biggest issue for me. I don’t understand what Tanya saw in him or why she continued to want him to return home. He seemed like he only married her because he’s a huge Russophile. His behavior was inexcusable and at a certain reveal, it’s even worse. Tanya deserves a lot better. The ending is frustrating and offers her no guarantees.
Catherine’s perspective was much more enjoyable, even though her outlook isn’t much better than Tanya’s. But I still felt like it was missing something. Her last chapter didn’t really satisfy me, similarly again with Tanya.
Despite its shortcomings, it was quick and at times interesting to read.
The Mapmaker's Children
I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.
by Sarah McCoy Published by Crown/Archetype
on May 5th 2015 Genres: Contemporary Women
, Literary Pages:
When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril. Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.
I was a little hesitant when starting The Mapmaker’s Children because more often than not I tend to dislike alternating point of views if they’re not done too well, especially when it comes to stories that are taking place in the past and present. That being said, I really enjoyed this book and it worked perfectly, keeping my interest throughout the three hundred pages (I wish the font was bigger).
Sarah Brown and Eden seemed to have only an infertility problem in common at first, but their stories unfold and I could see how these two different women, from very different times could intertwine and make such an interesting story. I personally loved Sarah’s chapters a lot more because I found the historical aspects more interesting than some of Eden’s life. Although, despite not going through the same trials and dangers as Sarah Brown, Eden was also a woman who had endured through pain and despair. They’re both strong.
The Mapmaker’s Children is a must read for any historical fiction lover or someone who likes really interesting reads such as this.