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Posted by on Jan 4, 2017


The Globe and Mail

Eva Stachniak: ‘We live in a country that embodies the essence of the 21st century’

The Chosen Maiden was born out of my fascination with Ballets Russes, a Russian dance company which, in the summer of 1909, took Paris by storm, and fundamentally transformed Western notions of modern art. I wrote it because, after over 30 years in Canada, I’m still exploring the encounters between East and West, their exhilarating possibilities and illuminating setbacks. My heroine, Bronislava (Bronia) Nijinska, the intended Chosen Maiden from the 1913 production of The Rite of Spring choreographed by her famous brother Vaslav, was a brilliant dancer and a ground-breaking choreographer. The tantalizing relationship between Bronia and Vaslav is one of the novel’s main themes. Another is a life fuelled by a passion for art and lived in between cultures, languages and ideologies, against the backdrop of bloody political upheavals – two world wars and the Russian Revolution. With the Nijinsky men gone – by choice or tragic fate – it’s the women who pick up the pieces. For me this makes The Chosen Maiden both personal and universal. Personal for it evokes the spirit of the Polish women who raised me, brave and nurturing, determined to wrench the slightest sliver of happiness from the hardest of times. Universal, for I see the very same spirit anywhere where women know that the survival of their families depends on them. MORE

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Empress of the Night–Review Quotes

Empress of the Night–Review Quotes

Posted by on Mar 29, 2014

 …ambitious…structurally complex and psychologically intense…. Empress of the Night aims for Hilary Mantel. Stachniak’s writing is distinct, however, especially in vivid description of sensory details: perfume, sweat and the click of heels on polished floorboards.—Quill & Quire


…unfailing attention to detail, whether describing the pain of childbirth or the manner of a courtier’s behaviour and appearance. –National Post


The beauty of this historical novel lies in Stachniak’s wonderfully vivid and evocative prose. She excels at creating a strong sense of time and place, rich with sensory details. –Winnipeg Free Press 


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William Wadsworth reviews “The Winter Palace”

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013

William Wadsworth

The Winter Palace
by Eva Stachniak

Toronto-based historical novelist Eva Stachniak first carved a niche in the study of deceit in 2000, with Necessary Lies, an award-winning story of marital betrayal in modern Poland.

In The Winter Palace, Polish-born Stachniak brings out the laudanum and belladonna, the smoke, mirrors and creaking bedsteads for another sassy immigrant success story, set in the 18th-century Russian court.

Now No2 on the Globe & Mail’s fiction hardback list, The Winter Palace is billed as ‘A Novel of Catherine the Great’, but it’s really a tale of how two bright immigrant teenagers team up for survival in snake-pit salons over the next 20 years. Stachniak quickly establishes her principal characters with Conradian clarity, and the pages of The Winter Palace fly by as its central character, Barbara, leaves her native Poland for St Petersburg, where her bookbinder father cultivates her literacy and repairs the libraries of Russia’s nobility.

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“The Winter Palace” — selected reviews

Posted by on Nov 23, 2012

The Globe and Mail (January 2012):  Jane Smiley

It isn’t incidental that award-winning Toronto novelist Eva Stachniak asks us to ponder the Winter Palace, in St. Petersburg, Russia, before she asks us to ponder Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, and her predecessor, Elizabeth.

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