Jinny (SkyInk.net)'s Reviews > Catherine: The Great Journey, Russia, 1743

Catherine by Kristiana Gregory
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's review
Jun 25, 12

bookshelves: russia, royalty, historical
Read on June 24, 2012

When I was a kid, around ten or twelve years old, this was one of my absolute favourite book series. I adore books about princesses, real or fictional, and love learning about them. There's twenty books in this series, I own eight of them. I recently decided to re-read some of them, partly for nostalgic reasons, and partly because I'm kind of behind in my 100 books goal and would like to shamelessly bring that number up a bit, heh.

This book is about a little German princess who lived in Prussia, who was born as Sophia. Her mother is a relentless social climber, a princess herself, but such a minor one that no one really cares about them. She always dreams of being related to "real" royalty. When Empress Elisabeth of Russia sends out a request for portraits of young, eligible ladies to be sent to her so she may choose a bride for her heir, the Grand Duke Peter, Sophia and her mother are both shocked and excited that Elisabeth chooses Sophia. Thus Sophia makes the great journey from Prussia to Russia, through the snow and cold, to meet her future husband. When she meets the Empress, the Empress decides Sophia should be named Catherine instead, after her mother. Catherine would later go on to become Catherine the Great.

I thought the book was pretty good. It wasn't the most exciting or engaging one (I remember the Anastasia and Cleopatra books in this series being very addicting). I think the issue is that Catherine's life is much more interested after she marries and becomes Empress, than before. I know the series focuses on the princesses in their tween/teen years, but Catherine just doesn't have that much going during that part of her life, besides the betrothal. Still, I do think the book was written pretty good and despite not too much happening in her life. The book focuses more on Catherine's relationships with her mother, Empress Elisabeth and her betrothed, Peter, which  I think is great for laying down the groundwork for those interested in reading more about Catherine, because Catherine does have some tense relationships with those people.

This portrayal of Catherine is very easy to like. I'm not sure how she is usually portrayed; this is my first historical fiction involving Catherine the Great. From what I know of her from history though, I imagine she would often be portrayed as very ambitious? This Catherine in this book does have hints of ambitiousness but the author, whether purposely or not, downplayed a lot of it, or made it sound more like a nice girl chasing a dream to be a good empress.

My only real complaint is the ending. It was very, very abrupt. I was surprised to turn the page and realize that the story was done.

If you don't mind reading juvenile books, I think this one is a pretty good one to try out, especially if you like historical fiction and/or have an interest in the Russian empress, Catherine the Great.
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Reading Progress

06/24/2012 page 74
42.0% "Trying to re-read this series :D I loved these books back when I was little."

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