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Publisher's Summary

A historical novel set in Tuscany in the 18th century, during the enlightened government of Pietro Leopoldo of Hapsburg Lorraine. Autobiographical memories of the Grand Duchess Maria Luisa, his wife and confidante.

"Vienna 1792. Maria Ludovica of Bourbon, the Spanish Infanta, for many years Grand Duchess of Tuscany and now Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, watches impotently the sudden death of her beloved consort, Pietro Leopoldo of Hapsburg, and from that moment begins almost frenetically to rekindle, one after the other, her innumerable memories of a life, still short, but intensely lived, beside the man who, since their first meeting had fascinated and conquered her, and to whom she had been a discrete and faithful companion. Public facts are weaved together with private feelings, with joys and suffering, in a sequence of urgent events. The Empress unconsciously knows, has always known, that she cannot survive for long (Editor's note: she will in fact die just two months later) after the death of her husband and therefore must hurry to organise her memories, to finally manage to give an answer to the most important question for her: what did she really mean to him? Only a political and dynastic link, the mother of his children, friend and confidante or the woman he loved notwithstanding everything?"

©2018 Maria Pia Oelker (P)2018 Maria Pia Oelker

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Memoir Style Book

I found this book to be very interesting. I have loved history and found this book regarding the Grand Duchess to be fascinating. I typically listen to romance or mystery/thriller books, so this was outside my typical listening preferences. The book said it was her memoir translated. The imagery was well done. I wasn't certain if I liked the characters that much, since they seemed like puppets to the times and had too many constraints. The narrator did a good job with her accents and distinguishable voices for some of the characters. I requested this review copy audiobook and have voluntarily written this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I Enjoyed the Story but Performance Could Be Bette

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.
I did find the storyline of interest and enjoyed listening to the book for the most part. However the narrator sounded to mumble at times, especially when acting out the male characters. The pauses between sentences were also too long and after a while they started to bother me.
The writing however was truly good and the historical aspect very well represented. I liked how the protagonist Grand Duchess Maria Luisa was portrayed as a very credible woman with all of her insecurities and sufferings. The Grand Duke is also showed with his many flows and social immaturity, though it was hard not to like him just the same for his efforts towards his wife's happiness. I would have probably enjoyed more reading the book instead of listening to it, but maybe the narration will be improved in the future. Nice storyline just the same.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic autobiographical style story

This is the first book I’ve read/listened to by this author and I would listen to another. I enjoyed the way the book was written as a narrative by the Grand Duchess. It starts essentially with her first learning of her betrothal and ends with her death. I’d love to know how much of the content came from the true letters by the Grand Duchess Maria Luisa. I get the feel there was quite a lot. I really enjoy Alison Weir, and Carolyn Erickson. Now I will add Maria Pia Oelker to the list.

This is the first book I’ve listened to by this narrator and I would listen to another. I think she did wonderful job choosing the tone and cadence to the voices. Her Grand Duchess’ voice is perfect.

There are no explicit sex scenes, excessive violence or swearing.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and voluntarily left this unbiased review.