What’s Ashley Reading?: Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie

First line: Prince Christian Augustus of Anhalt-Zerbst was hardly distinguishable in the swarm of obscure, penurious noblemen who cluttered the landscape and society of politically fragmented eighteenth-century Germany.

Summary: Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, reigned for over thirty years. She came to Russia as a fourteen-year-old German princess to marry the heir to the Russian throne. After years of marriage and her husband’s ascension to the throne she staged a coup and took over the country. During her time she implemented many new ideas of the Enlightenment on a country that had been living decades behind the rest of Europe.

My Thoughts: I became fascinated with Catherine the Great while watching the Hulu Original series, The Great. Even though it is not historically accurate it was a lot of fun! As I watched I looked up items about Catherine and her story is one that is made for television. She had power, lovers, and conflict. I knew that I needed to learn more about this woman who ruled such a vast empire. Luckily I was gifted the book for Christmas and I immediately started reading it.

I loved how the author wrote. It read like fiction. It was broken into short chapters dealing with different parts of her life and the people around her. I learned so much about the empress, the country and politics of the time. The book is 575 pages which is a time commitment but I broke it up by reading other books at the same time.

As I read I compared it to the TV show. Very little was the same but the show did include little details that gave it some peak into the history. The descriptions of her husband and the other members of Russian court are astounding. These people lived lives that are beyond what normal people can comprehend. It took me nearly a month to finish Catherine’s biography but I found it worth every minute. She did so much for her adoptive country. She bettered it and truly earned title of “Catherine the Great.”

FYI: The TV show is very adult. There are scenes of sex, violence, blood and vulgar language. But it has beautiful sets and costumes along with a great cast.