donderdag 28 november 2013

Death by Fame: Life of Elizabeth, Empress of Austria - Andrew Sinclair (Boek)

She was the Princess Diana of her day: beautiful, anorexic, trapped in an unhappy marriage and a stifling court routine from which she escaped through constant traveling and charity defiantly lavished on those least acceptable to her in-laws (in this case, the Hungarians and the Irish). But Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837-98) was a Victorian celebrity, not a contemporary one, and though her biographer strives mightily to equate her assassination by an Italian anarchist with Diana's fatal accident while in flight from the paparazzi, "death by fame" is not a very accurate title. Nor do all historians accept Sinclair's contention that Elisabeth's husband, Hapsburg emperor Franz Joseph, infected her with a venereal disease that made him guiltily willing to indulge her every whim. He may simply have loved her despite her obvious mental instability and his equally open infidelities. Whatever its factual wobbles, Sinclair's overheated biography is nonetheless good, tawdry fun for its gossipy portrait of the quarrelsome, overbred, and intermarried royalty of Europe on the eve of its final eclipse. Romantic and kind-hearted--but also hysterically restless and incapable of sustained devotion to anything but horseback riding and obsessive physical exercise--Elisabeth was a fitting empress for the enervated fin de siècle. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
A biography of a royal beauty of the Victorian age who was married too young to Emperor Franz Josef and became empress of Austria-Hungary. Veteran biographer Sinclair (Corsair: The Life of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1981, etc.) profiles Elisabethof noble Bavarian blood and the bearer of four children (including the notorious Rudolf of Mayerling), despite a philandering husband, who, it was believed, infected her with a mysterious malady. As a young wife and mother, she had to contend with a domineering mother-in-law who took control of the royal children. Elisabeth, a fine horsewoman who loved the outdoors, strove for health and beauty. Bored with ceremonial court life and crowds, she broke away from Vienna and family, seeking solitude. Constantly wandering with a large contingent of servants, she lived in various palaces across Europe, where her glamorous style set fashion standards for 30 years. Her devotion to oppressed people like the Hungarians and the Irish, among whom she lived for long periods, added to her popularitywith everyone except their Austrian and British rulers. Franz Josef gave carte blanche to her expensive tastes and wanderlust; in return, she condoned his liaisons. Sinclair capably provides the historical background as time was beginning to run out for the inbred ruling dynasties of the Hohenzollerns, Hapsburgs, Romanovs, and others. Feared anarchists and socialist assassins stalked the nobility as the nationalist powers were about to destroy one another in WWI. Elisabeth was knifed to death by an assassin in 1898. A well-written, thoroughly researched story of a popular and beautiful empress, who, while self-indulgent, sought a life of privacy and peace, and showed sympathy and charity toward the poor. She died tragically, overwhelmed by publicity and away from royal life. Sinclair finds contemporary parallels in the life of Diana, Princess of Wales. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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