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Becoming Lola

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  207 ratings  ·  27 reviews
'A woman who has sufficient intellect to render herself of independent mind ought also to be able to assume the quills of a porcupine in self-defence.' Wildcat and temptress with a mind as sharp as her tongue, the nineteenth-century adventuress, Lola Montez, followed her own advice and became, after Queen Victoria, the most famous woman in the Western world. Born Eliza Gil ...more
Paperback, 318 pages
Published December 5th 2010 by
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lola Montez is one of the most interesting characters I've encountered in recent fiction. She starts out as Eliza Gilbert, the beloved daughter of a British officer serving in India. Her father dies, and her mother quickly remarries. Shortly, she is sent back to the U.K. to live with relatives, then on to boarding school.

In boarding school, she finds true happiness, for perhaps the first time since her father died. Her mother shows up one day, announcing that Eliza is to be married to an older
Amanda Jane
Feb 22, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Doesn't fulfill it's own blurb..

I just didn't like it. Lola/Eliza is as unlikeable a heroine as it's possible to have.. I find myself questioning the veracity of the story in several places.. there's no mention of the syphilis that killed her.. no real reason for the hatred her mother shows her as a child..

As I reread the blurb* I feel somewhat cheated.. "gripping" it is not.. "decades as the most famous woman after Queen Victoria" is just a claim too far..

As it's clear to see from the quote bel
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating subject

After reading Sex with Kings, a nonfiction book all about royal mistresses, I became especially interested in the story of Lola Montez. I was thrilled that someone had written a historical fiction account of her life. This book covers her childhood and up through her escape from Bavaria. The epilogue gives us the story of her life after the king. Lola was NOT an endearing character, and I like it that the author didn’t try to portray her as sweet and innocent. In fact, I disl
This fictionalized life of the woman who became Lola Montez tells an interesting story of a woman who lived a hard life, to a great extent of her own making. Still, she lived in an interesting period and interacted with interesting people, including King Ludwig of Bavaria (not Mad King Ludwig, but his grandfather) and one of the Russian Czars. Her life was relatively short, but she managed to squeeze in a lot of careers, lovers, and homes during that period. I didn't find her particularly likabl ...more
Judy King
Interesting... But....

Lola is certainly a rare find and an exhaustingly exotic woman. It is hard to care about her given her expertise manipulation and use of straight out demands. One wonders how a woman of that time got away with such bad behavior... Are men really that shallow when faced with s try beautiful woman? Amazing.... Birth on her front and that if these manysucessful men who apparently were ready to throw it all aside as the glimpse of her delicate ankle... Really?
Linda Hastings
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I lived near Grass Valley at one time in the past and visited her home several times. Was always interested in the back story. Did not know this was not her real name.
A lot of research went into this book and is apparent. It deserves to be read. It is well written and show her as a disturbed women who only thought of herself. She became upset when she lost her beloved father at a very young age. She demanded to be elevated above her station and nearly caused a riot all over Germany.
Ena Estes
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining Account of The Exploits of Lola!

Being very curious to read this account of the notorious Lola Montez who is a legend in Grass Valley, CA, history, BECOMING LOLA met my expectations and more. It was a fun and glorious romp with Lola over the countries and through the wilderness. Ms Steel captured her audience while painting an intricate picture of this truly remarkable women of the 19th century. Brava, Ms Steel!
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such drama for the Era

I would have never imagined such "goings on" existed in this Era. What an adventurous woman with "Brava" beyond imagination. While she became and did things that I cannot repect, her tenacity and experiences are only to be admired, other then the spoilt years with the king of Bavaria! Talk about living with blinders on! She lived a full life in her relatively short life. A good read!
A.J. Fotheringham
Very Interesting

I first heard of Lola in a biography series I used to read as a child. This book opened the story of her life up for me and I really enjoyed reading it. It is also a good example of how trapped women were at this time and of the courage it took to rebel and deal with people’s reactions. Great read.
Cary Steward
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed it

I enjoyed reading this book. However the author seems to put more emphasis & time into her characters in Europe. I would have liked to hear more about her life in California.
Sheila Korte
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets!”

I had heard of her, but I never knew she took down a government and everyone in her path had trials and tribulations. She was certainly a person who could have had a nice life were it not for her temper! What a great book.
Deborah Necessary
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had heard the name Lola Montez and knew she was involved with some Royal, just was mistaken on who it was. A fascinating look at a woman who was English, but convinced the world she was Spanish, and despite being a mediocre dancer, sold out the house.
Oct 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
lola is a completely unlikeable character. she is a user of other people's time, money and emotions. i don't believe she has a single redeeming quality. don't bother to read this.
Awesome Indies Book Awards
Awesome Indies Book Awards is pleased to include BECOMING LOLA by HARRIET STEEL in the library of Awesome Indies' Badge of Approval recipients at

I had some difficulty choosing between my "historical fiction" and "biography" tags for this novelization of the life of real-life social climber and stage dancer, Lola Montes/Montez. That genre confusion is a good indicator of why the book didn't work for me, actually. Clearly it was a passion project that involved a good deal of research into the already well-fictionalized biography of Montez. (In her own autobiographical lectures, Montez jokes at considerable length about the different versio ...more
Faith Justice
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook
I had high hopes for this novel because I love stories about actual adventurous women, but I didn't get into this character. Lola's life was a train wreck of her own manufacturing. Every time she was in a good situation (except one tragic love affair) she managed to screw it up with temper tantrums and an unbelievable blindness to other's feelings or the politics of the times. The book might have been saved by more skillful writing. The story is told in third person with the result I felt distan ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read

I read this book in two days time hardly wanting to put it down. It is truly a fascinating look into the life of a very determined and interesting woman who tried to better herself as best as she could to survive and support herself while undermining her efforts with her tantrums and foolishness. It was amazing how she managed to ingratiate herself into the upper echelons of society only to end up being hated by them almost causing a revolution.
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
such an interesting biography!

what a firecracker Lola was once she came to terms with her cold, uncaring mother and that she'd never win her approval or love...there were times when I despised how ruthless and egomaniacal she was, but then again, like her many leashed lovers, I fell back in love with her fiery temperament. Excellent reading and I'll be interested in reading more about her.
Average Jane
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was looking for a biography of Lola Montez and didn't realize until I'd hit the "buy" button that it was actually fictionalized. Considering the potential for artistic license, it seemed kind episodic and abrupt and I was disappointed that it covered a relatively short period of its subject's life.
Rosemary Noble
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
I skipped the last third. What a thoroughly unpleasant woman was Lola. If she had any redeeming characteristics the author did not share them. I realise it was difficult in those days for women but she was the author of her own downfall.
Mar 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm not sure whether it was the subject matter or the writing/characterization, but I found this book wholly unengaging. I started flipping through the last hundred pages just to finish, and even lost interest in that.
Darlene Williams
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Celebrity Gone Bad

Lola was the precursor of modern times celebrity acting badly. A woman who reinvented herself several times to manipulate, coerce, and force her selfish desires upon men and nations. A thoroughly unreliable narrator well written.
Sep 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Although I found the topic of this book interesting, I found it to be a very slow read and finished it only from sheer tenacity.
May 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
Not for me - too slow and Lola's mother just too irritating. Still, pretty cool historical novel.
Sean Taylor
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Her name was Lola

An easy read about a real life fascinating character from the past. Harriet Steele tells it well. Enjoyable historical fiction.
Seta Vandegrift
Nov 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Kind of a real-life Vanity Fair. I wonder if she was the inspiration for Becky? Set during the same period. Interesting to see the overlaps between her life and historical events.
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Did not like Lola - what a self-centered brat! Men fawning all over her, it's ridiculous.
rated it liked it
Oct 06, 2018
rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2018
Norman Bridge
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Jan 31, 2017
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Harriet Steel wrote four historical novels before turning to crime with the Inspector de Silva mysteries, inspired by time spent in Sri Lanka (the former Ceylon)). Her work has also appeared in national newspapers and magazines. Visit her blog to sign up to her monthly newsletter for news of new releases and great offers,
She’s married with two daughters and lives in Su

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