The Royal Diaries
Catherine: The Great Journey, Russia, 1743: Catherine, The Great Journey, Russia, 1743
By Kristiana Gregory
Scholastic, Hardcover, 9780439253857, 176pp.
Publication Date: December 1, 2005
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Fourteen-year-old Prussian princess Sophia finds herself entangled in her mother's efforts to arrange a marriage between Sophia and Charles-Peter, a young German duke and nephew of the Russian empress Elizabeth. As Sophia's mother moves to make the match, she and Sophia must travel from their humble home in Zerbst, Prussia, to Russia--the kingdom of Elizabeth. There, Sophia is renamed Catherine and married to Charles-Peter, but she watches helplessly as her family is torn from her, her own mother is involved in a spying ring against the empress, and all that is familiar to her disappears.
Gr 4-7This novel is written from the viewpoint of Princess Sophie Augusta Fredericka of Anhalt-Zerbst, who later became Catherine the Great. The diary opens with an entry dated August 7, 1743, when Sophie is 14. Her mother obsesses over marrying her into a prestigious family. When the studious and rather plain-looking teen has an opportunity to marry Peter, Grand Duke of Russia, she must face the scrutiny of critical Empress Elizabeth. In her diary,” Sophie talks about her home situation and recounts the hardships of travel to Russia, her efforts to please the empress, and her engagement. Gregory's strong characterizations bring the historically grounded figures to life. Events convey the difficulties of Russian life during 1743-1745. At first slow moving, the plot picks up speed when Sophie meets the empress. The diary concludes with her impending wedding. Supplementary materials include a family tree, black-and-white reprints of painted portraits of Catherine and family, a map of Prussia and Russia from 1744, and the author's commentary on her use of primary sources.Lynn K. Vanca, Akron-Summit County Public Library, Richfield, OH