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"?
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by Vanessa Lafaye
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"This is the first audiobook for novelist Irina Reyn, a writer of particular grace and authority. Narrator Karen Peakes effectively balances Reyn's two subplots, one set in a New York auction house, the other in the eighteenth- century Russian court. Both parts feature a powerful, ambitious female and her marriage. In the contemporary chapters Peakes slips easily into the voice of Tanya, a specialist in Russian art who is married to a frustrated novelist. Peakes just as easily slips into the historical narrative of young Catherine the Great as she seizes the throne from her incompetent husband, Peter III. But Peakes dampens the spell with her unpersuasive mimicry of character voices, especially those of Russian males. Nonetheless, an unexpected twist brings the two stories together into a satisfying ending. D.A.W. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"
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