Series: The Romanovs. This is a cheat as I don’t feel like these books truly form a series, but according to Goodreads they are. I read Nicholas and Alexandra (per Goodreads, #3 in this series) in 2018 (review here). Catherine the Great is considered #2 in the series.
What I remembered about this series prior to reading this book: A lot, because I loved Nicholas and Alexandra. I’ve been looking forward to reading this book ever since.
Why I stopped reading the series: I mean, I didn’t stop, exactly. It’s more that these are several hundred page books of dense history, and you’re not always in the mood for that. That said, I don’t really have any interest in reading the other two books in this series.
The plot: None, really, I mean, it’s the lifestory of Catherine the Great. It covers her entire life, from growing up in Prussia as a minor princess to being betrothed to her cousin, the future tsar of Russia, Paul III, their unhappy marriage, to her eventual overthrow of Paul and becoming the Empress of Russia, and her many romantic partners, most especially her historic partnership with Gregory Potemkin.
The good: The first 3rd of this book is fantastic. Catherine wrote an autobiography covering the first 25 or so years of her life, and when Massie is working from that source, it’s so fascinating. The characters truly do come alive, and you feel nothing but sympathy for the young Catherine, torn away from her family to live in a country where she doesn’t speak the language, she knows no one, and is betrothed to a completely unpleasant stranger. When Paul is overthrown and Catherine becomes Empress was also really interesting.
The bad: Phew, there are a few parts that really drag that are mostly about wars in Europe and strategy. I skimmed those.
Did Catherine the Great change my mind about the series?: Kind of, because I totally loved Nicholas and Alexandra and was more meh on this one.
Will I keep reading the series?: I think I’ve hit my limit on Russian history for awhile, so no.