Katri's Reviews > The Reluctant Empress

The Reluctant Empress by Brigitte Hamann
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Jul 13, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: empress-elisabeth-of-austria, musicals, biography, to-reread

The best biography of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria that I have so far found, and generally considered to be a definitive work on her. Hamann describes Elisabeth's life from her childhood to her death, and while doing so she definitely breaks away from the romantic fairy-tale images of Elisabeth's life. Hamann shows her as a highly complex and controversial woman - strong-willed, intelligent, independent and highly original, but also self-centred and depressive. Hamann is not afraid to show her negative sides as well as the positive ones. Many different aspects of Elisabeth's life are brought to light: her relationships to her family members, friends and other people she came across, her travels, her poetry, her physical and emotional health, her role in the affairs of the state, and more.

The biography is meticulously researched and well foot-noted, so the reader can see what Hamann is basing her information and opinions on. This also makes it easier to form one's own opinions. The only criticism I might make is that she is sometimes even too harsh in judging Elisabeth and others; but at least as she does this it's possible to see which part is her own opinion and which part is facts, and to decide for yourself what you think. This does not happen with many Elisabeth biographies, where the author's biases often affect what is being stated as facts.
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03/29/2016 marked as: read

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