First Lines Friday: April 24, 2020

First Lines Fridays (#FirstLinesFriday) is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words.
What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?
This is how it works,
– Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
– Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
– Finally… reveal the book
Thank God It’s Frida!
I hope you all had a good week and are all staying at home and staying safe.
What are your bookish plans for this weekend?

Another episode of “First Lines Friday” is here so let’s see what we have in store.

My “First Lines” pick for this week is…
“In the end it fell to Rosalia to make sure that the imminent departure of Countess Sophie Potocka (accompanied by her daughter, Countess Olga Potocka, and companion Mademoiselle Rosalia Romanowicz) via Paris to the town of Spa for her prescribed water cure – had been announced three times in the Petersburg Gazette. Only then the passports could be collected and the padrogna – the permission to hire horses on the way – be signed by the Governor General”.




garden of venus


An alluring, exotic novel set in the early nineteenth century, based on the life of the famous and much-painted courtesan, La Belle Phanariote. Sophie, the Countess Potocki, is travelling with her entourage from St Petersburg to Paris, to consult with French doctors, when she stops at the Berlin palace of her friend, the Graf von Haefen. There, her whole extraordinary life during one of the most turbulent periods of European history comes back to haunt her – the many strands of her life, the many roles in which she has presented herself, the many biographies she has made up, the many lovers and protectors she has cherished and deceived. And still she continues to attempt to manipulate the lives of those around her. But two of them, her Polish lady-in-waiting and the French doctor summoned to her, have been brought up in a different, more modern era. Her lady-in-waiting survived the terrible wars that tore her family apart, and the doctor is a child of the revolutionary spirit that burnt through Europe from Paris. Both have very different ideas than Countess Potocki on how to lives their lives, and how to survive the turmoil in the beginning of this new century. Brilliantly written, cleverly constructed with a strong cast of characters, both real and fictional, and vivid scenes, Garden of Venus is an alluring, sensuous and exotic saga which will delight readers of Tracy Chevalier, Philippa Gregory and Isabelle Allende.

The Author:

Eva Stachniak was born in Wrocław, Poland. She moved to Canada in 1981 and has worked for Radio Canada International and Sheridan College, where she taught English and humanities. Her debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the in Canada First Novel Award in 2000. Her first novel of Catherine the Great, The Winter Palace, has been included in the Washington Post 2011 list of most notable fiction and was a #1 international bestseller. Empress of the Night, her second Catherine the Great novel was published in March of 2014.
Stachniak lives in Toronto, where her latest novel, The Chosen Maiden, was published in January of 2017.


Published: January 1st 2004 by HarperCollins Canada

Pages: 452

Genre: Historical Fiction

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