Ellie's Reviews > The Royal Physician's Visit

The Royal Physician's Visit by Per Olov Enquist
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Dec 10, 08

Read in December, 2008

This work recounts the "Struensee Era" of Denmark in the 1770s, in which an unassuming doctor finds himself appointed as Royal Physician to the mad King Christian and lover to Queen Caroline Mathilde. Johann Struensee quickly becomes the de facto ruler of Denmark and begins to pass a litany of reforms in line with his Enlightened philosophies. The King rarely questions the documents he is asked to sign, as he suffering from schizophrenia and has few days of lucidity. Struensee and the Queen begin a love affair. When she becomes pregnant they both know it's the beginning of the end -- the Danish Court and society had had enough of their scandalous behavior. Struensee's unlikely role of reformer and the most powerful man of Denmark comes to a very likely end -- a coerced conversion, confession and ultimate beheading. What I will remember most about this book is Enquist's narrative. These tragic figures come alive as we read their innermost thoughts and doubts, written almost in streams of consciousness. His free use of exclamation points, word repetition, captalization and anachronistic facts weave a tapestry that seems to be as mad and unsettling as the characters themselves. This is history writing at its best.
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