Lover, murderer, mother, Tsarina. Memoirs of a Geisha meets Game of Thrones in this captivating epic charting the extraordinary rags-to-riches tale of the most powerful woman history ever forgot.
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 15, 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)