Catherine the Great: Love, Sex, and Power

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St. Martin's Press, Feb 6, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 592 pages

Dutiful daughter, frustrated wife, passionate lover, domineering mother, doting grandmother, devoted friend, tireless legislator, generous patron of artists and philosophers—the Empress Catherine II, the Great, was all these things, and more. Her reign, the longest in Russian Imperial history, lasted from 1762 until her death in 1796; during those years she built on the work begun by her most famous predecessor, Peter the Great, to establish Russia as a major European power and to transform its new capital, St Petersburg, into a city to rival Paris and London in the beauty of its architecture, the glittering splendor of its Court and the magnificence of its art collections. Yet the great Catherine was not even Russian by birth and had no legitimate claim to the Russian throne; she seized it and held on to it, through wars, rebellions and plagues, by the force of her personality, by her charm and determination, and by an unshakable belief in her own destiny.

This is the story of Catherine the woman, whom power alone could never satisfy, for she also wanted love, affection, friendship and humor. She found these in letter-writing, in grandchildren, in gardens, architecture and greyhounds—as well as in a succession of lovers which gave rise to salacious rumors throughout Europe. The real Catherine, however, was more interesting than any rumor.

Using many of Catherine's own words from her voluminous correspondence and other documents, as well as contemporary accounts by courtiers, ambassadors and foreign visitors, Virginia Rounding penetrates the character of this most powerful, fascinating and surprisingly sympathetic of eighteenth-century women.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BrynDahlquis - LibraryThing

A -very- indepth look at Catherine the Great's life. It's exceedingly detailed, and yet I didn't really get tired of reading. Admittedly, it took me quite a while to get through it all, but I did. I ... Read full review

Catherine the Great: Love, Sex, and Power

User Review  - Book Verdict

Catherine is another woman set upon using her power to change her world; in Rounding's rich biography, that world and its times come vividly to life. Born in Germany but transplanted to Russia to ... Read full review


Confusion and Unrest
Passion and Pretenders
New Lovers and a New DaughterinLaw
Grandsons and Other Acquisitions
The Empress and the Emperor
The Failures of Physicians
Convalescence and Recovery
The Great Crimean Voyage and Proverbs in Petersburg

Sir Charles HanburyWilliams and Stanislas Poniatowski
Empress of All the Russias
Murder Coronation and Conspiracy
Catherine Sets to Work
Laws Smallpox and
The Heroic Orlov
The Beginning of the
Last Years
Death and Burial

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About the author (2007)

Virginia Rounding is a translator and writer who lives in London. Author of the critically acclaimed Grandes Horizontales, she studied Russian at the University of London and visits St. Petersburg regularly.

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