Peter’s Empress Kristina Sabaliauskaitė

Peter’s Empress

Published: 2019

ISBN: 9786094792212

Number of pages: 320

Dimensions: 145 mm x 21 mm

Cover: Hardback

Publisher: UAB Baltų lankų leidyba

The author of internationally bestselling historical novels Silva Rerum (I-IV, 2018-2016) takes up the story of Lithuanian Marta Skowrońska: an impoverished noblewoman turned laundress, a sex-slave and prisoner of the Great Northern War, who became the second wife of Peter the Great, under the name of tsarina Catherine I and the first ever Empress of Russia.

Written by a scholar (Sabaliauskaitė has a PhD in the history of art), the novel is based on Western and Russian sources, with a profound knowledge of both cultures as well as of Russian language, mentality and customs’ nuances. A tangible recreation of the period atmosphere with authentic voices of characters audible from their surviving letters, enriched by the micro-histories of secondary characters, this novel is also a mesmerising high-suspense “Her-story” side to the well known history of Peter the Great. It is also a story of violence against women in all its forms – military and cultural, domestic and public, physical, psychological and emotional, but also a story of a survival and a gradual development of female power. A story of motherhood and bereavment, as Catherine bore Peter 13 children of whom only two daughters survived, one of them becoming Russian empress.
Voltaire called the extraordinary life of Marta Skowrońska and her incredible ascent “the Cinderella of the 18th century”, but in this novel it is rather a psychological vivisection of a marriage to the Blue-Beard, with a good measure of a Greek tragedy, set in the bloody battlefields and opulent palaces of Europe, Moscow and Saint-Petersburg.
Catherine’s I and Peter’s I love story is a cultural clash of the East and the West in one toxic royal marriage.
The novel’s 24 chapters take place during the last 24 hours of Catherine’s life. Each chapter corresponds to approximately one hour of reading time. The narrative, written in the first person and inhabiting her dying body switches from real time action to Catherine’s stream of consciousness which evokes memories from the 24 years from the day Catherine met Peter in 1703 to her death in 1727.
The novel comes in 2 parts: the first part from 9pm to 9am May 5th, 1727, the second part from 9 am to 9 pm May 6th, 1727.

Kristina Sabaliauskaitė

The art historian Dr. Kristina Sabaliauskaitė is currently the most widely read Lithuanian author with a biggest print runs and the biggest acknowledgement abroad – her historical novels 'Silva Rerum' are bestselling not just in Lithuania, but also across the borders – in Latvia and especially in Poland, where they have attracted unprecedented readers' following, rave reviews and was shortlisted for the final of ANGELUS Central European Literary prize in 2016.

In Lithuania the 'Silva Rerum' tetralogy of historical novels (2008-2016), set in 1659-1795, is considered to be the most important literary event of the last decade. Almost 150 years of the country's history is told in fates of four generations of one noble family, simultaneously depicting the cultural and philosophical panorama of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth amd Europe.

Both in Lithuania and abroad the books by Kristina Sabaliauskaitė sometimes attract comparisons with Umberto Eco and Gabriel García Márquez due to their intellectual and sensual values, though at the same time emphasizing that her prose is a phenomenon in its own right and a completely unique literary voice. Sabaliauskaitė has a PhD in art history and she is capable of entwining a profound academic knowledge and a refined, rich and innovative literary language thus creating a mesmerising narrative which engulfs the reader. The critics note the paradox – her prose is very intellectual and multilayered, but at the same time it is a captivating page-turner.

The subjects that come up in her novels and short stories are identity, memory, history and the confrontation of an individual with the happening of historical events as well as the shared dimensions of European history. This probably answers why 'Silva rerum' novels with their multinational characters and their wide geography – which encapsulates not only Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but also Germany, the Netherlands, France and England – attract such a wide readers' following.


Jurga Ivanauskaitė literary award, 2008 (Silva Rerum)

Shortlisted by the Institute of Lithuanian Literature among the twelve most creative books of 2008 (Silva Rerum)

Book of the Year 2009 in Lithuania (Silva Rerum)

Officially listed in 2010 among the 10 most memorable Lithuanian books of the past decade (Silva Rerum)

The Statue of Saint Christopher, the highest award from the Vilnius City Municipality, for reflections of Vilnius in literature, 2011 (Silva Rerum, Silva Rerum II)

Latvian translation by Dace Meiere shortlisted for the Translation of the Year in 2011 and awarded the Ventspils Silver Inkpot prize for the Best Translation in 2012 (Silva Rerum)

Book of the Year 2011 in Lithuania (Silva Rerum II)

In 2014 Silva Rerum and Silva Rerum II were voted among The 100 Favourite Books of All Times by Latvian readers

In 2015 listed by the Lithuanian PEN club among the 10 most significant books of the past decade (Silva Rerum, Silva Rerum II, Silva Rerum III)

2015 The Liudas Dovydėnas literary prize for best novel (Silva Rerum III)

Listed by programme "Z najwyższej półki" among the 30 most important books of 2015 published in Poland (Silva Rerum)

Shortlisted for "Angelus" Central European Literary prize 2016, Poland (Silva Rerum)


Silva Rerum, a novel, - Vilnius, Baltos Lankos, 2008.
Silva Rerum II, a novel, - Vilnius, Baltos Lankos, 2011.
Danielius Dalba & kitos istorijos, collection of short stories, - Vilnius, Baltos Lankos, 2012.
Silva Rerum III, a novel, - Vilnius, Baltos Lankos, 2014.
Silva Rerum IV, a novel, - Vilnius, Baltos Lankos, 2016.


Silva Rerum, - Riga, Apgads Zvaigzne ABC, 2010.
Silva Rerum II, - Riga, Apgads Zvaigzne ABC, 2012.
Silva Rerum III, - Riga, Apgads Zvaigzne ABC, 2015.

Silva Rerum, - Krakow, Znak, 2015.

Vilnius. Wilno. Vilna. Three Short Stories, - Vilnius, Baltos Lankos, 2015.

Other books by Kristina Sabaliauskaitė


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Publishing house “Baltos lankos” was established in 1992 with intention to publish high quality literature. The range of our publications is very wide: new books by Lithuanian authors, translations of elitist foreign literature as well as most popular works of fiction, crime fiction, monographs, children book, academic writings are constantly being brought out. “Baltos lankos” continuously search for new possibilities to publish new titles, collaborate with translators, national and international authors.

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