CATHERINE THE GREAT - BAD A$$ EMPRESS OF RUSSIA
If you think History is boring you are stupid. Sorry to break it to you but you're a moron.
Robert K Massie is a writing god (with a lower case 'g' of course). He writes with such detail and fluidity that you would almost think he was there...witnessing it all. He pulls from personal letters, diary entries and accounts from many other people who were there. He is truly a master story teller.
He devoted his life to studying all about the Romanov family and their reign from 1613-1917. I was first introduced, as many of you were I'm sure by the story of Princess Anastasia and the big bad Grigori Rasputin who slaughtered her family. But that was just one of many tantalizing stories about this blessed and cursed Royal family.
Catherine was born in 1729 to a poor Prussian Prince. Yup...they had those in that day. Her name at birth wasn't even Catherine...it was Sophie. Her mother had impeccable blood line but her father...uh not so much. But Sophie adored her father. Her mother not so much. Her mother had grown up in luxury and was eager to get back there through her children no matter the cost.
During that time, Czarina (female Czar) was in power. She never publicly married and never had any children. She had selected her nephew Peter as her heir and was looking for his bride. And that's when she set her eye on the young Sophie.
In 1744 Sophie was brought to Russia and they were married in 1745 and her name was changed to Catherine II.
You would think that would make for a fairy tale ending...but it didn't. You see, Peter was more interested in his toys (and no I'm not $hitting you!) and performing mock battles than pumping a baby inside of her. So after almost a decade, our poor Catherine was still a virgin. Talk about frustration! But it was more than that. It was her sole job to conceive and every year that passed, she became more fearful that they would throw her out for not having a baby. Talk about hostile work environment!
This is where it starts to get real juicy!
Catherine meets and falls in love with someone not her husband and that man is believed to be the biological father of her heir, Paul. His name was Saltykov. You would think that would make Catherine happy but it didn't...relieved yes but not happy. When Paul was born he was immediately taken away by Czarina Elizabeth and it was she who raised him away from Catherine.
Despite having 2 other children, Catherine probably never slept with her own husband (you know biblically!). Poor girl!
But then it happens! In January 1762 Elizabeth dies leaving her nephew (the man child) as her heir. But he is a hot mess! He makes friends with counties that were mortal enemies the month before. He takes on a lover and threatens to throw Catherine out and his new lover in her place.
Catherine has to take action. And she does! Girl power!
Her latest lover and probably baby daddy #3 is Gregory Orlov. He is in the Russian military along side his brothers. He's respected by his men and uses his position to overthrow the weak a$$ new Czar. In a bloodless coup Catherine rides to victory becoming the next Czarina to rule Russia.
I'm so proud of her! Our little Sophie! Happy face :)
Catherine rules until her death in 1796 at the age of 67. She is estimated to have between 12 to 22 love affairs! Go Catherine! And survived countless insurgents.
- My Two Cents -
This book is definitely worth reading not only because it's an up-close look at an amazing woman who defied the odds and came out on top! Hello..she led her own coup and kicked some mofo a$$ doing it! But it's also filed with sex....lies...betrayal...hatred...envy...plots...and all kinds of juicy stuff. It's that good!
My grade for novels on Czarina's kicking mofo a$$ is...