Hello, Sunshines, I hope you are all well? I have the massive pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten, I am super excited to be sharing my review of this amazing book with you all. As always grab that cuppa, take a seat and enjoy!

Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Format: ebook/paperback/audio

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?



‘This is the ultimate Cinderella story of an illiterate peasant girl who becomes the empress of Russia. It makes Game of Thrones look like a nursery rhyme’ Daisy Goodwin

‘Ellen Apsten’s Tsarina brings to life the dramatic life of Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great, and afterwards Empress of Russia in her own right. She recounts this remarkable woman’s colourful life and times in the form of a novel, drawing however throughout on documentary evidence – this proves a highly effective approach’ Nikolai Tolstoy

‘ Tsarina should come with a health warning- once you start reading, it’s impossible to stop’ Hannah Rothschild, author of The Improbability of Love


OMG, this is so bloody amazing!!

I am blown away by the quality of this book, this is never a debut, surely someone is lying to me?? This book has pure intoxicating, indulgent class written all over it. It’s a fascinating, dark tale of a woman so few of heard of – I do count myself in that category. It’s a captivating mix of compelling history, sex, violence and the wonderful story of a woman who was an essential part of history, a woman who fought to gain her place and the respect she deserved.

I am astounded that I had never heard of Catherine I of Russia before now, which strikes me as not just amazing that this brilliantly intelligent and ruthless woman appears to have disappeared from history but also that those might women who came after her; such as the legendary Catherine the great have a lot to thank Catherine I for. She was an extraordinarily cunning, intelligent and determined woman who will do everything she can to keep her place. I really admire Catherine – whose birth name was Marta – she came from humble origins, illegitimate and tough she is sold off by her family and she then was passed from pillar to post; used, violated, humiliated and abused until finally catching the eye of Tsar Peter. This is not surprising as Marta was an incredible young woman, she was a born survivor, beautiful and alluring with a keen wit. They share a long marriage of ups and downs and lots and lots of sex, he isn’t the perfect husband anything but he is prone to quite shocking behaviour but she keeps her head high and fights to keep her place right up to and after his death she is a strong woman and I do hugely admire her.

As well as being a dramatic and brilliantly vivid tale of danger and hardship this really shows just how debauched the Russian aristocratic court was… My goodness, it’s hot and steamy and quite shocking, there a lot of romping around the bed-chamber – Ouh la la, who knew that the Russian court could be so hot and lustful? It actually reminds me of a mixture of the tv series’ Versailles, The Tudors and The Devil’s Whore, if you’ve watched any you will have an inkling what I mean by sex-mad aristocrats.

It isn’t the easiest of reads, at times it can be uncomfortable and there are some truly harrowing and shocking moments, which are all the more disturbing and uncomfortable to read because this is based on a true story and the abuses, the violence the manipulations all most like did happen which again is shocking.

An advisory note, even if you love your historical fiction do be prepared for some scenes that are uncomfortable but essential to the entirety of the story. If you are of a more sensitive disposition then this may not be the best book, personally, I think it’s utterly amazing, easily one of the best of the years but I have always preferred my historicals to have a darker feel to them. All I am saying is just take heed because I can guarantee that once you do start reading you won’t be able to stop, it consumes you, it pulls you into the dark, vodka-soaked and turbulent world of the Russian court.

This is a thought-provoking, richly textured and enthralling tale of the strength and lengths a woman will go to survive, I cannot recommend this enough.

This was a complimentary copy which I voluntarily reviewed as a part of this blog tour.

About the Author

Ellen Alpsten was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands, before attending L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. Whilst studying for her Msc in PPE she won the Grande École short story competition with her novella Meeting Mr. Gandhi and was encouraged to continue writing. Upon graduating, she worked as a producer and presenter for Bloomberg TV in London. She contributes to international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint and Conde Nast Traveller. Tsarina is her first novel. She lives in London with her husband and three children.

Blog Tour Schedule

Do check out the amazing blogs that are participating in this blog tour, and show them some blog love.


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