News & Reviews

Smithsonian Magazine’s Books to Read

The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure is one of Smithsonian Magazine’s “Books to Read” in September!

“By the end of her reign, Catherine the Great had acquired more than 4,000 paintings, 38,000 books, 10,000 engraved gems, 16,000 coins and medals, and 10,000 drawings. But as writers Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees point out in The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure, this collection—which later formed the foundation of the State Hermitage Museum—could have been even greater. A cache of Dutch masterpieces acquired by the art-loving Russian empress vanished when the ship carrying them sank in 1771 with its priceless artwork aboard.” Read more in Smithsonian Magazine…

A Mighty Mystery

A Mighty Blaze is a cool organization, founded by writers to help writers promote their books in the age of Covid. Many thanks to Sara DiVello for featuring us on her author interview series – A Mighty Mystery!

Sara’s invitation prompted us to think about The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure from a new perspective. Does it count as a Mighty Mystery? Certainly, there are no murder plots or bank heists. However, there is more than one element of mystery to the story. In fact, Publisher’s Weekly calls it “an intriguing portrait of an art world mystery” and historian Susan Jaques calls it “a true delight for fans of art, mystery, and maritime archeology.”

Curious? Watch our interview to find out more!

Tsarina Book Launch

Friends, yesterday was a magical day for the co-authors of The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure. We sent our book baby out into the world. Friends and family across the country received it with love. And we were so lucky to even celebrate the Tsarina book launch with some people *in person.*

Thank you to Porter Square Books for providing copies of our books to sell and sign at the Tsarina book launch party. Thank you to Remnant Brewing for making sure it was safe and comfortable for all – and also for the beer ?. And thanks to everyone who came to celebrate, sent love from afar, bought The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure, recommended it to friends, and/or posted a picture. Your support means everything to us. ?

And now… happy reading! ?

Can’t Get Enough Catherine

Seemingly, lovers of history and devotees of pop culture can’t get enough of Catherine the Great. As evidence, three popular television documentaries/series have come out in recent years. Ekaterina is a Russia-1 historical television series from 2015 (now available on Amazon) about the rise of Catherine the Great. Last year, HBO produced Catherine the Great, a four-part mini-series starring Helen Mirren as Catherine at the end of her reign. And most recently, Hulu has an “occasionally true” comedy series about the young Empress, called simply The Great, starring Elle Fanning.

The Great is the most unusual of the three. It is at times funny, dark, bawdy, and gory, and often surprising. It is not historically accurate (nor does it claim to be). But it certainly was good pandemic entertainment.

The single season of The Great has left viewers craving more. Good on The MarySue for offering 16 Books and 1 Zine to Read After Bingeing on Hulu’s The Great. The list includes a few biographies, Russian love stories (fiction and non), roundups of royal scandals through the years, juicy tales of sex and murder… AND one story of the shipwreck Vrouw Maria. Did you love The Great? Craving more Catherine? Turn your attention to The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure: Catherine the Great, a Golden Age Masterpiece, and a Legendary Shipwreck. Read the full list on The MarySue here…

Booklist Review

“What defines a treasure, and who controls its fate? Easter and Vorhees expertly weave the story of the ship and the painting into history.  They plumb the two decades of drama that followed The Nursery’s rediscovery to combine important questions about the value of art and culture and the meaning of heritage and to create an entertaining tale.” Read the full Booklist review…

Time to Eat the Dogs

Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees talk about the voyage of the Vrouw Maria and the long quest to find the ship under the waters of the Archipelago Sea off the coast of Finland. Easter is a professor of history at Boston College. Vorhees is a travel writer for Lonely Planet with an expertise in Russia, New England, and Central America. They are the authors of The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure: Catherine the Great, a Golden Age Masterpiece, and a Legendary Shipwreck.

Listen to the podcast here…

Kirkus Review

“An apprentice to Rembrandt, Gerritt Dou eventually surpassed his teacher in fame and wealth. Over the centuries, however, Dou’s reputation has shifted repeatedly with the tides of fashion in the arts. His story makes up one strand of this engaging new book by Easter and Vorhees. An intriguing narrative, and an entertaining yarn whose ending is yet to be written.” Read the full Kirkus review…

Praise for the Tsarina’s Lost Treasure

“Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees skillfully weave the shipwreck of the Vrouw Maria and its secret cargo with the lives of Dutch Golden Age painter Gerrit Dou and Russia’s art-loving Catherine the Great. The high stakes search for the tsarina’s lost treasure, 18th century and modern, reads like a detective story. A true delight for fans of art, mystery, and maritime archeology.” – Susan Jaques, author of The Empress of Art and The Caesar of Paris

“As the ‘Sea Hunters,’ we had seen wrecks as scattered fragments on coral reefs, as steel structures torn apart by storms and battles in deep water, as rusted, collapsed hulks, and as exquisitely preserved time capsules.  We’d found ships with profound historical and cultural connections. . . . Others were filled with cargo of exceptional value to science or archaeology—or had actual treasure. But until Vrouw Maria, we had never seen a ship that had all of that.  Lost art masterpieces?  A wreck found thanks to dedicated archival research and focused ocean surveys?  A wreck discovered incredibly intact, nestled between a shoal of rocks as sharp as dragon’s teeth?  This was a  wreck that should have been in a Clive Cussler novel.” – James P. Delgado, Maritime Archaeologist and Author

“The Vrouw Maria was initially of no great importance—less than 100 feet in length it was just a two-masted wooden cargo ship. But what a cargo and what a story it harbors. The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure takes this long-lost ship and its priceless cargo, and blends in the story of Dutch art and its competitive owners.  And that is just the beginning of the story of Catherine the Great’s lost artworks.” – Tony Wheeler, co-founder of LONELY PLANET

“This supremely researched book tells the fascinating story of the Baltic Sea’s most famous and controversial shipwreck.  The Vrouw Maria carried a bona-fide treasure: not of gold and jewels but a dozen Old Masters paintings that included the most valuable work of art produced during the Dutch Golden Age.  The intact shipwreck should have been a maritime archaeologist’s and an art-lover’s dream.  Instead it became a nightmare for Rauno Koivusaari, its intrepid discoverer, who fought to of raise the wreck and reveal its priceless cargo of artworks unseen for nearly 250 years.” – David Mearns, Author of The Shipwreck Hunter