There is so much to be shared that one could write a pages and pages about Catherine's life, loves, politics, goals for her adopted country, art treasures, and the many books she read. She sought to bring enlightenment to Russia in so many areas including medicine, education, the church, peasant life, legal affairs, and more. Suffice it to say that one must read this delightful biography for oneself. My only complaint was that the author often pursued topics at length regardless of the time line and than would go back and pick up the story. However, perhaps this is the only way he could see to capture this talented monarch in print who was called one of the few true geniuses of her time. She entertained Diderot, Grimm and other intellectuals in brilliant dialog time after time in addition to going to war with Turkey and putting down an internal rebellion.
Since life with her husband, Grand Duke Peter, was dismal, she spent her time reading and learning. When Peter threatened her life, she realized that she needed to plan for her own future and surrounded herself with friends. She chose the monarchy when Peter was murdered by one of her supporters because she would have the power to institute the changes she wanted for her beloved country.
Yes, this is a fascinating story about a highly intelligent, politically astute, tactful and beautiful woman who has the interests of Russia foremost in her heart and mind even though she was originally from Prussia. I highly recommend this read.