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Friday, December 14, 2007

A Strong-Minded Empress: Imperial Highness by Evelyn Anthony

Evelyn Anthony's writing runs rings around most of the modern historical writers such as Philippa Gregory. She doesn't resort to tricks like including steamy scenes in the first few pages or using grating modern language. The quality of her writing speaks for itself.

This is about the young Catherine the Great of Russia. Dragged from her remote German principality almost in the middle of the night, Catherine has a clear idea of her destiny almost from the beginning. This novel portrays her as an extremely strong-minded girl who faces her many problems - a mad husband, a drunken Empress, and a dominating mother - with dignity and determination.

The character of Peter, Catherine's husband, would have been difficult to write but Anthony never shows it as laughable. The strange Empress, Elizabeth, is also written reasonably sympathetically.

Catherine's character shines in this book and her progress towards her final destiny becomes quite exciting as she fights her husband and the mercurial Empress, who imprisons her for seven years, to obtain her ultimate goal.

It is also a romantic novel which relates the beauty and suffering of a teenage girl's first love.

This book made me much more interested in reading about Catherine the Great.

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