I have had a fascination with Empress Elisabeth--or Sisi, or, indeed, Erszebet, as I first heard her called--since I traveled to Budapest and found thI have had a fascination with Empress Elisabeth--or Sisi, or, indeed, Erszebet, as I first heard her called--since I traveled to Budapest and found the hotel, street, bridge, et cetera all named after her. And when I found her omnipresent in Vienna as well, I needed to know about the woman who had inspired such adoration. What a fascinating and incredible woman she was, and what a tragic story she had!
The "diary" part of this book is short and not at all deep--but this is a young adult, or possibly children's book, so that is to be expected, I suppose. The epilogue, historical notes, family tree, and pictures are where the value of this book lies, but they do not tell us nearly enough about this fascinating woman.
In her life she was famous and admired mostly for her incredible beauty (which caused her eating disorder and her perfectionism regarding her appearance), but she had so many more important and valuable qualities. Most notable is that she was and is adored as a champion of the people and the country of Hungary. She was a self-studied anti-monarchist, pro-republic liberal, a poet, and an animal lover. After being pushed into marriage and the responsibilities of being an empress at the age of sixteen, she survived a very difficult, pressure-filled, and lonely life in the Viennese Habsburg court for many years with little support until she was finally able to stand up for herself and take a modicum of control over her own life. Although she left Vienna, she remained unhappy, and she endured further tragedy in the Mayerling Affair, which she never got over.
The story of her death is not told in great detail here, but it is fascinating: presumably due to her tight-laced corset and layers of black clothing, she was not aware of having been stabbed until much later; she felt pain but thought she'd merely been punched, and there was no gushing blood to tell her otherwise. After the attack she had boarded a boat and it was there on the water that she found she'd been stabbed, and there she died.
She was a modern woman trapped in an old-fashioned and stifling world, and she and her story are worth your time....more
This reminded me a bit of Hellboy, except it didn't have what I really love about Hellboy. But that's ok. Plus, Hellboy took a while to grow on me, soThis reminded me a bit of Hellboy, except it didn't have what I really love about Hellboy. But that's ok. Plus, Hellboy took a while to grow on me, so I would give this a couple more volumes (I should probably try reading Volume 1, if I can find it)....more
This is a very difficult book to review, because I'm not actually sure what I though about it or how I felt about it. It's widely accepted as a masterThis is a very difficult book to review, because I'm not actually sure what I though about it or how I felt about it. It's widely accepted as a masterpiece of British literature, and there's good reason why it's a classic and why it's still widely read today.
This book was hard to read, hard to understand, and hard to enjoy--but it's meant to be that way. I see it as part of Thackeray's statement about the society he's describing. This makes it difficult to decide if I should give the book four stars, because it succeeds in it's endeavor and is rather brilliant, or two, because it succeeded in being wordy, confusing, and being populated by unpleasant people. I gave it three, which is for sure wrong, but will hopefully warn those who need a warning what it is they are getting themselves into by starting this trek through the good and bad times in the life of Miss Becky Sharp and through the highest and lowest offerings of British Regency society....more