Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Catherine the Great

Posted on

Catherine the Great, Virginia Rounding

Catherine the Great

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Virginia Rounding
publisher:
St. Martin's Press
genre:
Nonfiction, Biography

We gave it an A

Like Marie Antoinette, 18th-century empress Catherine the Great has been tarred by rumors, many of them salacious. This engrossing bio sweeps aside the myths (e.g., she didn’t die under a horse) for a full-bodied portrait of the plump German princess who seized Russia’s throne. Yes, Catherine was ruthless (overthrowing her husband and possibly condoning his murder) and avidly sexual. But she was also compassionate, building schools and clinics. Virginia Rounding’s spare prose is an ideal foil for Catherine’s wickedly tart ”scribblings.” Is it possible Sofia Coppola picked the wrong historical heroine? A