ELIZABETH AND CATHERINE by Robert Coughlan

ELIZABETH AND CATHERINE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sure to capture the Nicholas & Alexandra audience and more justifiably, a popularized pageant (to help keep the cast straight there's a nine-page listing plus a genealogy) about two too often neglected but in all ways extraordinary Russians: Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, who died in 17.61 after a 22-year reign, and Catherine, a once-insignificant German princess who, by the time of her death in 1796, had ruled for 35 years (at first, a liberal who encouraged the arts and ushered in the Age of Reason; later, cranky and despotic) and became the apotheosis of the mystical Russian Matushka -- Mother. But it's Catherine the Great as queen who catches the imagination here -- helped not a little by her own diary which Coughlan has had the good sense to quote extensively -- a scandal and glory of her time whom history has fixed as an archetype of licentiousness. Coughlan's dual biography, like the Faberge eggs the Romanovs were so fond of exchanging, is full of unexpected grace.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1974
Publisher: Putnam