One of the problems of reading historical biographies is the distinct possibility that the author is actually making up some of the details to make the story flow better. And this book could be the same. The difference I found with Massie’s Catherine The Great, is that the scences blend so seamlessly it is impossible to tell.
Massie delves into the life of Catherine the Great and those around here. Beginning with her father and mother, he weaves a story of a young girl without security who found her own. A religious father, she played to his beliefs throughout their lives together. Her mother, ambitious and a little ridiculous, she distanced herself without her mother ever really knowing.
But where the book takes off is the relationship between her future husband and herself. Here we see Catherine began to find her own feet, not out of responsibility but of necessity. Throughout her life, Catherine shows many of the same characteristics of other powerful woman of her time. The necessity to be something more than they were born to be in order to survive in a world they may not have made, but they would be destined to change.
This book weaves the factual and the fanciful with enough grace to make it a story. Read for yourself the difference in her lovers, the loss of her children, and the unparelled intelligence Catherine showed.
While you will wish you could sit down and ask Catherine the truth about the events that surrounds her, Massie does a credible job of answering enough of story to make it easy to hope the reader got the rest correct.