Great Catherine

  • by Carolly Erickson
  • Narrated by Davina Porter
  • 15 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Prize-winning historian and biographer, Carolly Erickson has created an eminently readable biography that recognizes the humanity of Great Catherine—Empress of Russia—with her majesty and immense capability. Dispelling some of the myths surrounding her voracious sexual appetite, the biographer portrays Catherine as a lonely woman far ahead of her time—achieving greatness in an era when women were executed on a husband’s whim.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

history for readers of romance novels

In this book we learn a great deal about Catherine's romances, anguish, unhappy moments, as well as her elegant wardrobe, but rather little about the political, diplomatic and social issues she faced and how she handled them.
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An amazingly woman's life story

I don't usually read biographies, but noticed this and thought I'd listen--especially since the wonderful Davina Porter was reading it. Was not disappointed by either the story or the narration--both were simply magnetic! I listened almost non-stop (despite it's length).

Learning more about Catherine the Great really gave me a new sense of admiration for her. She was brought to the court to marry Peter at a very young age. She dealt with terrible conditions--was frequently treated badly by even Johanna, her own mother. Her relationship with her future mother-in-law (Empress Elizabeth) was quite interesting--a woman who would unpredictably treat her as though she was the most important woman in the world, shower her with gifts and attention, then inexplicably turn against her. Notably--when her son Paul was born, Elizabeth took him away from Catherine so she could shower all her love and attention on him, leaving Catherine a grieving post-partum mother without her child.

Her relationship with her husband Peter was equally interesting--as she largely found him unbearable. This led to her having affairs (which could possibly have resulted in her pregnancies). They were married, but Peter often treated her cruelly. He was killed after a coup and Catherine became Empress in her own right. She ruled during a magnificent time--"the Golden Age" of Russia, and accomplished great things during her reign.

Much of the book comes from Catherine's own memoirs. She was a woman of education and culture, and spoke about changes she brought about in the Russian court through her connections with people like Voltaire. She also seems to have described many instances of being ill--close to death, and one wonders at her stamina and resilience that she lived through so many crises.

This book reads like a novel--it feels pretty seamless (not a put together biography that reads in a choppy fashion). If you never knew it was a biography you might just think you were reading an excellent work of fiction--except it is not. I found this book fascinating--and truly recommend it!
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- Kathi "Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-17-2011
  • Publisher: Recorded Books