Negin's Reviews > Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
6326169
's review

really liked it
bookshelves: russia, memoir-biography
Recommended for: those interested in Russian history, and/or history of monarchs

This was such an enjoyable read and I felt that I learned so much. I barely knew anything about Catherine the Great and Russian history before reading this. She was born to a minor noble German family. She married Peter, the only living grandson of Peter the Great, when she was fourteen.



The story takes off from there. She was an incredible ruler and truly wanted what was best for Russia and its peoples. She improved hospitals and revised a code of laws. Her hours were intense – working from six in the morning until the late hours of the night.



Robert Massie truly has a gift for making figures in history come alive. His writing is engaging and his research is superb. Since I’m not interested in too many military and political details, those parts of the book did get a bit overly detailed at times, more towards the middle. I loved all the rest, however, am so happy that I read this, and I look forward to reading more by Massie. This book is an enjoyable read for anyone who loves history.

Finally, I was shocked to learn that the guillotine remained a form of execution in France until 1977!

My favorite quotes:
“She softened imperial presence with a sense of humor and a quick tongue; indeed, with Catherine more than any other monarch of her day, there was always a wide latitude for humor.”

“Books were her refuge. Having set herself to learn the Russian language, she read every Russian book she could find. But French was the language she preferred, and she read French books indiscriminately, picking up whatever her ladies-in-waiting happened to be reading. She always kept a book in her room and carried another in her pocket.”

“Supper was served, but Catherine never ate, and at ten she withdrew. When there was no official court reception, she entertained privately in the Hermitage. The company listened to a concert, watched a French or Russian play, or simply played games, performed charades, or played whist. During these gatherings, her long-standing rules remained in force: formality was banned; it was forbidden to rise when the empress stood; everyone talked freely; bad tempers were not tolerated; laughter was required.”

“I have had to endure much, and have only been able to endure it because I have always laughed whenever I had the chance.”

How she wished her grandchildren to be brought up:
"they are to be honest and courageous, be courteous to servants and elders", "grow their own gardens", "sufficient walks/exercise daily, bath every day".



18 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Catherine the Great.
Sign In »

Quotes Negin Liked

Robert K. Massie
“Books were her refuge. Having set herself to learn the Russian language, she read every Russian book she could find. But French was the language she preferred, and she read French books indiscriminately, picking up whatever her ladies-in-waiting happened to be reading. She always kept a book in her room and carried another in her pocket.”
Robert K. Massie, Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman


Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 20, 2019 – Shelved
January 20, 2019 – Shelved as: russia
January 20, 2019 – Shelved as: memoir-biography
January 20, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Juliew. I like Massie.He really gives you the details.


Negin Juliew. wrote: "I like Massie.He really gives you the details."
Julie, I can't wait to read more books by him. I wish that I had more time to read!


Matt Sensational review, Negin!


Negin Matt wrote: "Sensational review, Negin!"
Thank you, Matt!


Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters loved reading your review Negin :)


Negin Elyse wrote: "loved reading your review Negin :)"
Thank you, dear Elyse!


back to top