Friday, May 7, 2010

Oh-La-La Challenge

Violets for the Emperor: The Life of Louisa de Mercy-Argenteau by Therese de Caraman-Chimay
This biography was dedicated to the author's favourite horse, so I didn't have high hopes for it! After all, even 'Mr.Ed' couldn't read! It was nicely-written, however, and very enjoyable.

Louisa was a beautiful princess with golden hair who travelled to St.Petersburg and Vienna in search of a husband. She had a grand time and many suitors pursued her. She failed to fall in love, however, and eventually settled on the handsome and wealthy Comte de Mercy Argenteau. Unfortunately, she found him quite boring, but she had a lovely daughter to compensate!

Her husband worked for the Emperor Napoleon II. Louisa impressed the Emperor with her beauty and charm, and grew very fond of him. When war with Germany eventuated, she found herself in a world of intrigue, and involved in negotiations with the Prussian Emperor and the dreadful Bismarck.

Louisa and the Emperor were probably platonic friends, according to this book. She is described as lacking passion, and she probably didn't want any scandal. Empress Eugenie was very jealous so Louisa didn't want to upset her too much!

Louisa was very talented musically and became friendly with the famous composer, Liszt. She also gave many Russian composers their big chance, apparently. The story of Louisa's influence on music only comprises a short part of the book, which is a pity.

I found Louisa very likeable and I'd like to read more about her. This was a very interesting biography, but it's hard to know how much of it is true. It reads more like a novel than a biography. There is a lot of dialogue in the book and I think that this might have been made up by the author.

Eugenie is presented as being very unlikeable. She had too much influence over Napoleon politically, and she was difficult, according to this book. I haven't read much about her yet, so I don't know that much about her character.

This was a sweet book. I recommend it if you're interested in this time in French history and French royalty.

1 comment:

Kittie Howard said...

Come to think of it, has there been a really good book about Empress Eugenie??

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