This book took me forever to finish. I bought it as my beach book last summer (my definition of “beach book” is a little different from most people’s: instead of looking for fun, light reading I look for big books that will last all summer, aren’t so compelling that I’ll be tempted to rush ahead and finish them between beach trips, and come in cheap paperbacks so I don’t mind getting water or sand on them (unlike an e-book). Peter the Great went to pools, lakesides and beaches all over Newfoundland with me last summer and even made a trip to the beach in Nova Scotia before coming home to languish on a shelf until this summer.
It’s not that it’s not as well-written and well-researched as Massie’s Catherine the Great, which I finished fairly quickly and painlessly last year, and the subject matter is just as interesting. But for some reason I found this one slow going — I think it’s that more of Peter’s reign was spent fighting wars with various neighbouring countries and I find war less interesting to read about than domestic affairs, so I kept getting bogged down. But it is, as always with Massie, a superb work of readable, popular history if you want to know more about the Russian monarchs.