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Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  252 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
She was born on a bitterly cold December night in 1626 and, in the candlelight, mistakenly declared a boy. On her father's death six years later, she inherited the Swedish throne. She was tutored by Descartes, yet could swear like the roughest soldier. She was painted a lesbian, a prostitute, a hermaphrodite, and an atheist; in that tumultuous age, it is hard to determine ...more
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published September 21st 2004 by Harper (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,280)
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Jo Walton
It's a lie that all biographers and in love with their subject, and I get the feeling that Buckley doesn't actually like Christina very much. But then it's difficult to write a biography of somebody who didn't achieve anything, who was a monarch and quit, and was then a dilletante. I read this because I came across Christina in an article on poisoning and thought she sounded fascinating -- the book left me feeling she's less fascinating and more pathetic.

I sometimes read biography as an introduc
...more
C.R.
Jul 03, 2013 C.R. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Having known nothing about Christina at the start of reading this book it was indeed an interesting read in a sense. However, I was frustrated by the author's constant commentary and interpretation of events. Christina was very much the product of her environment but I felt that Buckley put far too much of her own perspective on why Christina said or did this or that without necessarily backing it up with specific documentation. In many sections the author spoke of what an individual like Azzoli ...more
Sonja Isaacson
Jun 08, 2012 Sonja Isaacson rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Buckley is apparently negatively disposed towards Christina. She has obviously done quite a bit of research, but I would expect that if she has spent that much time researching, Buckley wouldn't write off every decision Christina makes as selfish, thoughtless and/or immature.

I am rather surprised on how it seems that nobles were all broke. Didn't anyone ever have to pay their bills? Why didn't the sellers ever say "show me the money"? Apparently accounting was not part of her practical educatio
...more
Wealhtheow
Feb 22, 2008 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
Christina became Queen of Sweden as a child and abdicated as a young woman. I absolutely hate her. She was a terrible queen and a selfish, pompous, spoiled woman. I was so pleased when she abdicated the throne so she could pursue her Grand Artistic Future, and doubly pleased when it turned out she was no great genius, after all. She died alone, desitute, and despised by most of Europe, which I think fitting for such an annoying person.

The history itself is well-researched and well-written. I usu
...more
Dana
May 13, 2014 Dana rated it really liked it
Christina the Dabbler
Everyone knows of the great Virgin Queen of England, Elizabeth I. With the “heart and stomach of a king”, she was able to move England into the forefront of the European community. But what of the other Virgin Queen, Christina of Sweden? Born just a generation after Elizabeth, the young Christina succeeded to the throne as a child. Her seemingly great intellect promised the start of a epic age in Sweden, which had become a military power under her father and seemed poised to
...more
Sara W
The three star rating isn't really a reflection on the book itself. It's written well, but Christina was entirely annoying. I just wanted to slap her. She gave up the Swedish crown just to turn around and chase after other crowns. She meddled when she should have been minding her own business, and she showed up in countries when no one wanted her around. I normally would feel sorry for someone like this, but she had no humility whatsoever.
Jack Hrkach
Mar 29, 2016 Jack Hrkach rated it liked it
Shelves: history, biography
I decided to read this fine biography for several reasons. I saw the film that I remember as being quite good, decades ago - love to see it again but it's not the easiest to come by. Then recently I focused to an extent on Bernini for a trip that included Rome, read a biography of that great and innovative artist, and found that he was well acquainted with the Queen during her self-imposed exile in the Eternal City. Finally, I am contemplating a trip to Norway primarily, but with a few days in S ...more
Ruth
Jun 10, 2014 Ruth rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elysium
Haven't read much about her before so this was very interesting and well written. But I absolutely hated her. She was selfish and spoiled.
Mariavv
Dec 16, 2015 Mariavv rated it really liked it
I first heard of Christina when I was living in Rome, and thought she was absolutely fascinating, so I was really happy to find out someone had written a book about her. I have given it four stars mostly because of the interesting subject matter and because I don't think a better book about Christina exists, but there were a few things that annoyed me about the book. The overly flowery language felt a bit forced at the beginning, though I got used to it after a while. Also, the author included a ...more
Lissa Notreallywolf
Aug 01, 2011 Lissa Notreallywolf rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
What I thought is what I am thinking-I am dragging myself through this book with rapt attention to costumes, and the authors repeated judgement that we are dealing with a petulant, perennial child, a typical 'arrested development" bias for viewing gender-different people, whether a matter of outward morphology or internal configuration. Christina's mother was apparently sunk deep in some sort of mental pathology, as were many of her royal relatives, and the fact that Christina, was not-male heir ...more
Orsolya
Jul 01, 2013 Orsolya rated it liked it
Shelves: queens, library, history
Christina, Queen of Sweden is doomed to forever be known as the cross-dressing queen who abdicated her Protestant throne and turned to Catholicism. Veronica Buckley explores the quirks of Christina’s personality in “Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric”.

Few books exist revolving around Queen Christina which puts a lot of pressure on Buckley’s writing skills. Luckily, Buckley’s language and flow are smooth, beautiful, and well-written. However, the beginning of “
...more
Edward Podritske
Jul 28, 2013 Edward Podritske rated it liked it
Biography is a part of history but it is the historical context that makes a biographical treatment interesting, contrary to Emerson’s sentiment that all history is biography. Not all biography is so very interesting on its own. Properly, it examines the subject’s life in the context of challenges faced at a particular time and place.

Queen Christina was born to a life of status and privilege at a time when Europe was in tumult. The power nexus of state and religion was being challenged by more s
...more
Mark
Apr 26, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
All too often we can be caught up in this history contained within our borders, particularly when it concerns royal families and other powerful figures. This sceptre isle contains a plethora of stories, myths, legends, heroics, skulduggery, cynicism and downright nastiness to keep anyone entertained for years. How refreshing then that on a whim I picked out Veronica Buckley’s wonderful biography of the 17th century Swedish monarch, Christina, Queen of Sweden. Christina Alexandra was the only sur ...more
Giornata_di_sole
Biografia dettagliata, ben scritta e ricca di aneddoti…Cristina, regina di Svezia per un decennio, ci viene presentata come una donna piuttosto bassa di statura, minuta, con un gran sedere ed un naso altrettanto notevole, eppure intelligente e molto colta, appassionata di musica, balletto e teatro, dotata di un fascino del tutto suo, capace di affascinare e suscitare passioni sincere e durature… Fu amata e vanamente richiesta in sposa dal cugino, suo successore, cosi’ come fu adorata dal cardina ...more
Kat
Feb 25, 2015 Kat rated it really liked it
I have come to the conclusion that I do not like Queen Christina one bit.

However, this biography is hard to put down. It is full of details and little episodes that really make it come alive. Her life as well as the world she lived in are put into context, and you can't help but turn the next page in order to follow her story. The author obviously spent quite some time researching Christina's life, and I think she did a fine job.
Kaia Landelius
May 07, 2014 Kaia Landelius rated it it was ok
I love Kristina but I really hated this book. Somehow the author makes every single decision she ever made into something selfish and immature and seems unable to entertain the thought that she did ANYTHING good in her life. There are a lot of descriptions of how strange she looks, how people laugh at her clothing choices and so on, and it just made me mad as hell.

I read about 90% of the book before I COULDN'T TAKE MORE.
Jennyb
Mar 07, 2015 Jennyb rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This book is well written, but what a despicable character! Knowing little about Christina besides that she was eccentric, reputedly lesbian, and abdicated her throne, I expected to learn about someone, if not noble and distinguished, at least interesting. Instead, Christina was petty, arrogant, grasping and insufferable. To her credit, Buckley stays away from the more lascivious rumors about her subject, and writes a good bio of a thoroughly dislikable subject. Try as she might to humanize Chri ...more
Susan
Dec 30, 2014 Susan rated it liked it
The book is well researched and all and all I found it interesting. Christina was a deplorable person and I think the author caught that. While reading the book, it slowly dawned on me that Christina was way ahead of her time. She would have fit in better today with her selfishness and steadfast belief that her opinion was always correct.
Marissa
Jun 28, 2015 Marissa rated it it was ok
I was really looking forward to reading this, because by all accounts Queen Christina of Sweden was a fascinating figure, but this book proved to be disappointing. The author had a clear slant against Christina, portraying her in a negative light and often with a wry sneer, which is unfortunate. So many aspects of her life are exceptional and directly challenge the status quo of her time, but these are brushed aside by way of a backhand comment and instead chapters are dedicated to the Queen's f ...more
Victoria
Sep 16, 2010 Victoria rated it liked it
Shelves: history, sweden, women
The book was well-written and interesting, but it's hard to really get into it because Christina is just not likeable. She was a greedy, petulant, spiteful, immature waste of space and the author obviously feels the same way. It's strange to read a historical book where the historian has no respect at all for the subject. Not that I blame the author, it just makes for slightly more difficult reading. I finished it feeling that Christina didn't even deserve to have this book, or any, written abou ...more
Victoria Witthoff
The book was well-written and interesting, but it's hard to really get into it because Christina is just not likeable. She was a greedy, petulant, spiteful, immature waste of space and the author obviously feels the same way. It's strange to read a historical book where the historian has no respect at all for the subject. Not that I blame the author, it just makes for slightly more difficult reading. I finished it feeling that Christina didn't even deserve to have this book, or any, written abou ...more
Emily
Mar 10, 2014 Emily rated it did not like it
On the surface, the story of Christina, the Queen of Sweden who abdicated in order to move to Rome and participate in intellectual and artistic life, sounds like it should make for great reading. Unfortunately, Christina makes for a highly unsympathetic character. She was deeply irresponsible with her considerable power. She acted like pre-teen, rebelling against her principal Chancellor just for rebellion's sake, priding herself on her ability to "dissimulate" while acting like an ass, etc. up ...more
Fani
Feb 11, 2015 Fani rated it it was ok
I would have rated the book higher if it wasn't for the thinly veiled disdain the author felt for her subject - Christina. At least this is what I sensed throughout much of the book. I lost count how many times Christina and her actions were described as selfish, foolish, spoiled, petulant etc. All right, I got it the first time, let me make my own conclusions already. I'm glad I didn't end up hating Christina after that unsympathetic portrayal. She was a flawed human being born in a position of ...more
Mary Virginia
Mar 09, 2016 Mary Virginia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful Written

I do not know much about the 1600s and even less about Sweden but this book brings both to life.
Sheri
May 01, 2016 Sheri rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook-kindle
Queen Christina is an interesting figure, but the book was dry in parts and odd in others.
Carol Dieterichs
May 30, 2015 Carol Dieterichs rated it liked it
wordy history of an ugly woman who led an ugly life, harming many others
Donna Boultwood
This book was given to me and it's not one I would've bought myself. I struggled to get into Swedish royal history and the immense detail in this book. That said, I got the measure of Christina and felt sorry for her being thrust forward as a young queen. She didn't know who she was or what she wanted, no wonder she wanted to escape. I think she found peace right at the end of her life. Shame she hadn't known that peace, and perhaps met azzolino earlier, as she probably would've made a strong qu ...more
Christina
Jul 31, 2008 Christina rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one but the most devoted fans of Queen Christina
Recommended to Christina by: No one - but I wish I could blame someone for this
I have given up.

I spent more than a year trying to work my way through this book.

I really love story of Queen Christina (and not just because we share the same name).

It's a shame Buckley has to ruin it with overwrought, ugly prose.

I have another book about Christina at home that is much better, but out of print. I think it's called "A Psychological Biography of Queen Christina of Sweden." I picked it up at a yard sale more than 10 years ago. And I highly recommend it if you can find it.
Andrew Pessin
Aug 15, 2012 Andrew Pessin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read about half, since my interest was primarily in Christina up to the point of her famous abdication and conversion, not afterwards -- a very splendid book, easily and smoothly written, filled with just the right balance of quirky/titillating personal details, anecdotes, intrigues and more serious history and political analysis -- Christina is a very interesting case study, and Buckley studies her interestingly ....! definitely worth reading for anyone interested in 17th century history ....
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