Painter, musician, bibliophile...
One hundred years ago this July, events began to unfold which would change the world forever. This book examines of some of the factors which led up to them as they relate to three of Queen Victoria's grandchildren.
Miranda Carter is outstanding and her book is likely to appeal to many. It is not that there is anything particularly new here in the way of information, but that she tells the story beautifully and with great attention to detail, which makes the book a welcome addition.
Those who have an interest in the era or enjoy biographies will love the detail and careful rendering of setting and time period. Characterization is skillful, descriptions apt, and the story unfolds with perfect timing and holds one's interest to the final pages as we witness the vicissitudes of royal lives.
For those with an interest in the foundations of World War I, the view from the monarchies, as it were, is of great importance. Without hesitation, I recommend it to anyone who shares my obsession with the Great War, or who would like to understand its foundations better.
I read the book long ago but returned for a re-listen this week. I think I liked it even more the second time around.
Rosalyn Landor was, as ever, superb. What a lovely voice that actress has!
The life of Marie Thérèse de France, or "Madame Royale," as she would be known, is brought to life in this fascinating biography. Nagel takes us from our heroine's birth as an adored and pampered "Daddy's girl" to her unspeakable experiences during the revolution, then into adult life, her travels in exile, and her marriage to Louis-Antoine, duc d'Angoulême. There is never a dull moment in this well-researched, beautifully written biography of a subject who has too often been forgotten.
For those who have studied the Bourbon monarchy and the revolution, most of what is written up to Chapter 10, "Two Orphans," may be a review. However, it is essential background in such a biography. It will be accessible to those who are new to the subject, although it would be helpful if the audio had a PDF download of the geneaology charts included with the hardcover to help one keep track of the labrynthine royal inter-relationships.
Nagel makes a strong case against the "Dark Countess theory." The Dunkelgräfin as she is known in her German home, was the comtesse des Ténèbres, around whom controversy continues to the present day. It was said she was substituted for Madame Royale, and her unusually secretive and eccentric behavior masked her true identity.
Whatever one might conclude about Madame Royale, one would have to have a heart of stone not to grieve for any person of any station who would have lived through such tumult and terror. For me, Nagel revivified a memorable and heart-breaking character who will stay with me for a very long time.
Also recommended: "The Lost King of France: How DNA Solved the Mystery of the Murdered Son on Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette" by Deborah Cadbury.
It isn't easy to find much in English, far less on audio, about the Valois monarchs. It was for that reason I turned to this biography and am very glad I did. I knew little of Catherine before listening to this, and now find myself wanting to learn much more about those around her, from her friend and sister-in-law Marguerite, Duchesse de Berri to her nemesis Diane de Poitiers and many more besides. I also longed to learn more about the architecture and decoration of the many chateaux, such as Chenonceau and Anet. That feeling of wanting to know more is a great treat when reading history, and sadly, sometimes it is a rare one! Frieda's biography is rich and dense with information, and there is never a dull moment for those who love French history. Anna Massey's performance is, as always, outstanding in every way. I only wish the book could have been three times longer, with many incidents gone into with greater detail, so greatly did I enjoy it. I hope you will love it, too.