Posts tagged with "Russia"
Catherine the Great
Posted by mingh on 01/17/12
This is a very detailed look at a fascinating woman who changed Russian history. Catherine (born Sophia) was a lesser known and unrich princess of a German duchy when she was called up as a potential suitor for Peter III. Catherine did not love Peter who, although older, remained childish. However, she was able to gain his confidence and the wedding was scheduled. Before it could take place, Peter caught smallpox. He lived, but when Catherine saw how disfigured he was she could not contain her disgust. Peter never forgave her.
Massie uses Catherine's diaires which go very extensively into her personal life in the court of Empress Elizabeth. In these diaries, Catherine notes that she and Peter III never consummated their marriage for nine years and it was likely that Peter fathered none of her children. Because of Peter's state of mind, most of the attendants could easily come to the same conclusion. It is Catherine's autobiography and diaries which gives us all of the information that we have today. Catherine noted in her autobiography that in her life she had had 12 lovers. This is where rumors of her sexuality came from.
Once Catherine takes the throne from her husband she embarks on many visits throughout Russia and starts to institute changes including those to alleviate some of the harshness of the life of the serfs. She was well-educated and built The Hermitage to showcase the art that was in the collection of the Romanovs. She continued to have favorites in court and their intrigues and lives are greatly detailed.
This biography is for serious readers of history. There is wonderful detail in the lives of Catherine and her family and everyone in the court. I can't remember reading as extensive a biography of a ruler ever. Catherine the Great, indeed.
The Little Russian
Posted by mingh on 02/27/12
A new voice in historical fiction. The Little Russian tells the story of Berta Alshonsky, who revels in childhood memories of her time spent with a wealthy family in Moscow--a life filled with salons, balls, and all the trappings of the Upper Class--very different from her current life as a grocer's daughter in the Jewish townlet of Mosny. So when a mysterious and cultured wheat merchant walks into the grocery, Berta's life is forever altered. She falls in love, unaware that he is a member of the Bund, The Jewish Worker's League, smuggling arms to the shtetls to defend them against the pogroms sweeping the Little Russian countryside. Married and established in the wheat center of Cherkast, Berta has recaptured the life she once had in Moscow. So when a smuggling operation goes awry and her husband must flee the country, Berta makes the vain and foolish choice to stay behind with her children and her finery. As Russia plunges into war, Berta eventually loses everything and must find a new way to sustain the lives and safety of her children. Filled with heart-stopping action, richly drawn characters, and a world seeped in war and violence; The Little Russian is poised to capture readers as one of the hand-selling gems of the season
The True Memoirs of Little K
Posted by Ultra Violet on 01/19/11
Prima ballerina, Mathilde Kschessinska, was the mistress of the last tsar of Russia. This novelization of her hey-day in the Russian court is a rich, extravagant fairy tale. Purely enjoyable to read even if it weren't based on reality.
The True Memoirs of Little K
Posted by cclapper on 03/31/11
Tsarist Russia -- 1890: Young Mathilde Kschessinska makes an impression on the Tsar of Russia, and her life takes flight. As a student, a young ballerina and then something more to the Tsar... Finally, one hundred years later, she sits in Paris to write everything she remembers. And she remembers everything. The Ballet. The Court. Even the last days of the Tsar and the rage of Revolution.
This book is said to be based carefully on fact. History and insight from the personal perspective.