Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie

What do we want?!

Plots*, strategic marriages**, coups, betrayals, eccentric behaviour***, murders, revolutions, and a different definition of ‘favourite’****.

How do we want it?!

Probably about 100 pages less. And more about the Hermitage, the art collection, architecture, and Catherine’s early and brave use of vaccination. And less about battles.

I gave Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie 3.5/5.

*it’s plotting from start to finish, whether it’s political, matters of the heart, or deciding how to manage the serfs.
**although Catherine married strategically, Peter was not what you’d consider a ‘catch’.
***it’s hard to ignore the fabulousness of details such as someone who travels with a servant to polish the silver or, when ill, commands the services of a composer and pianist to provide soothing sounds to comfort (that pianist being Mozart…).
****Empress Elizabeth started it…

8 responses

    • Ordinarily this would have taken me ages to read but there’s a Helen Mirren series on tv about Catherine the Great at the moment, so I wanted to read before I watched!

    • The stuff I knew was about her art collection – thee was a lot of other info that surprised me (basically, she was a canny politician and out-manoeuvred many who threatened her throne).

  1. I’ve just finished War and Peace, in which the older men were of the generation which served Catherine. Might have been interesting to know more about her. (and no, note style reviews are not my favourite).

    • I’ve started War & Peace so many times and just lose the will to go on with it (honestly, I have a short attention span!). The last time I picked it up was after watching the brilliant BBC series. Other readers have said “it’s just a Russian soap opera’ (which is an accurate description of Catherine’s life as well), but suspect it will remain unread…

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