Skip to main content

The Lonely Empress: Elizabeth of Austria by Joan Haslip: A Book Review

The Lonely Empress: Elizabeth of Austria
Author: Joan Haslip
Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: Phoenix
Release Date: 2000
Pages: 464
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: Consort to Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, Elizabeth was a modern woman who fled the confines of Habsburg to roam free--she fancied dangerous riding, sailing and poetry--but her life ended with her assassination in 1896. 
  
    My Review: Elisabeth of Austria is considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful queens. At the age of 15, Elisabeth caught the eye of Emperor Franz Joseph, who was at the time courting her sister. The Emperor immediately fell in love with her and decided to marry her. At first Elisabeth’s marriage seemed to be a fairy-tale. However, her love for Franz Joseph quickly deteriorated. Suffering from an overbearing mother-in-law and a stiff court, Empress Elisabeth left her husband, her family, and her duties as an Empress. Over the course of 35 years, she traveled the countries of Europe, sightseeing and going to spas. This is the story of the Empress who was never happy with being queen.

    I came away from the book intensely disliking Elisabeth of Austria. While the author gives us the impression of the Empress having a mental illness that was inherited from her mother's side, she was still a very unsympathetic figure. Mrs. Haslip portrays Elisabeth as self-absorbed, vain, and narcissistic. She did not care about her husband and her two eldest surviving children. She did not care for her country, and politics bored her. The Empress only cared about her beauty and her personal pleasures. She spent millions traveling the world and even built a palace that she quickly tired of. She wanted everyone to fawn over and worship her like a goddess on Mount Olympus.

    Mrs. Haslip also paints a one-sided portrait of Franz Joseph. The author shows that he does not have any flaws. Even when he has affairs, Mrs. Haslip quickly dismisses it and blames the Empress’s sentimental behavior. Franz Joseph is described as a lonely man. He always misses and longs for his wife. He writes her many letters during her absence. He is overindulgent and never refuses the Empress anything. He spends millions trying to make her happy, much to the disapproval of his subjects.

    Overall, this was a very unsympathetic but fascinating look at Elisabeth of Austria. Elisabeth is a very complex figure and it is hard for anyone to try to understand her. However, The Lonely Empress was very well-written and meticulously researched. It shows the splendor, glitz, and glamour of the Austrian court. The Lonely Empress tells a tragic tale of a woman who longed to escape the harshness of reality into a world of a dreams and fairy tales.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts: A Book Review

Finding Dorothy Author: Elizabeth Letts Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Books Release Date: February 12, 2019 Pages: 352 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Hollywood, 1938: As soon as she learns that M-G-M is adapting her late husband’s masterpiece for the screen, seventy-seven-year-old Maud Gage Baum sets about trying to finagle her way onto the set. Nineteen years after Frank’s passing, Maud is the only person who can help the producers stay true to the spirit of the book—because she’s the only one left who knows its secrets.     But the moment she hears Judy Garland rehearsing the first notes of “Over the Rainbow,” Maud recognizes the yearning that defined her own life story, from her youth as a suffragette’s daughter to her coming of age as one of the first women in the Ivy League, from her blossoming romance with Frank to the hardscrabble prairie years that inspired The Wonderful Wizard of Oz . Judy reminds Maud of a

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) by Lucinda Riley: A Book Review

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) Author: Lucinda Riley Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Publisher: Atria Release Date: 2015 Pages: 463 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings. Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to

My Favorite Books of 2021

Looking back at the year 2021, it has been a very hard year especially with the pandemic. Reading a good book is what helps me get through the most difficult times. While I did not read as much this year as I usually do, I still found some gems that a worth a re-read. These books drew me into the past and for a while whisked me away from the realities of 2021. This is the list of my favorite books of the year. Boudica has always been one of my favorite historical figures of the year. I even wrote a history article which you can find here . I can say without a doubt that Melanie Karsak did justice to Boudica's early life. It was  a gripping historical read with raw emotions! I look forward to the next books in the series to see how Queen Boudica is portrayed! Queen Esther's story has always been one of my favorite book in the Bible . When my favorite Christian author writes one of my favorite stories, it becomes a sweet treat! I loved everything about The Star of Persia ! The m