The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to become one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history.
If you could sum up Catherine the Great in three words, what would they be?
Absorbing, fascinating and unlikely
Who was your favorite character and why?
In any telling of the life of Catherine the Great, Catherine must be the central character. Nobody but Catherine herself could have invented her.
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
It is clear that the narrator is simply reading words (which he does quite well) but has no deeper connection to the subject. Constant and consistent mispronunciation of Russian German and French words and names (and not just the difficult ones) are distracting and make one think he did no preparation. This may seem like a trivial point, but a good reading is one where one feels like the narrator knows what he/she is talking about and that is not the case here.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
There are genuinely amusing, genuinely moving and genuinely horrifying moments.
Any additional comments?
This is a well paced and lively telling of a great story. It does not dig very deep into the history of the period, the mind of the protagonist or the culture of the period. But presents the information that it does provide in a manner that is clear and understandable for anyone with no background on the subject and that is no small accomplishment
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