"Catherine: The Great Journey"

Author: Kristiana Gregory
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Scholastic
Series: The Royal Diaries

In retrospect, it was not a good idea to read this book while outside my house it was snowing to beat the band. Wool socks, sweater, and roaring fireplace notwithstanding, I thought for sure I was going to get hypothermia reading descriptions of brutal Russian winters.
Otherwise, though, this was a great read. Catherine, a native German daughter of low nobility, is chosen to be betrothed to the Peter, heir to the throne of Russia - a cousin she barely knows. She, along with her mother, set out on a journey by sleigh from their home in Germany to the heart of the magnificent Russian empire.
There, in addition to the ever-present problem of dealing with her irrational and emotionally unstable mother, Catherine must strive for the approval of the Russian Empress Elizabeth, the woman who has the power to send her home to Germany in disgrace - or worse, banish her to Siberia.
While Catherine's mother proved a constant annoyance, her fiance Peter proved himself a spoiled child, and the empress remained an aloof and imposing source of potential threat, Catherine herself was a good-natured girl, an intelligent thinker, and a delightful person to get to know. The historical account in the back of the book (after the fictional journal section) confirmed that Catherine became a wise ruler who made great strides in bettering her people.
While not my favorite book in the series, this was definitely an engaging read and a good opportunity to learn a bit about 18th century Russia (a department in which my knowledge is sadly lacking).
Well worth picking up, if you get the chance.

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