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The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria

The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria [Kindle Edition]

Brigitte Hamann
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known to her family as 'Sisi', belongs to a famous love story of European royalty. In 1853 the Emperor Franz Josef, the most eligible bachelor in Europe, fell in love with her at first sight when she was 15. They were married the next year. On the surface, it was a fairy-tale marriage, all the more poignant, with hindsight, because her tragic death augured the twilight years of the Habsburg Empire.

First published in 1988, Brigitte Hamann's definitive biography tells Elisabeth's story from her birth into Bavarian nobility to her assassination at the hands of an Italian anarchist. In her lifetime she was idolised solely for her grace and beauty; but Hamann shows us a stronger character, bitter at her marriage, seeking independence, and struggling against the powerful influence of her mother-in-law, the Archduchess Sophie.

About the Author

Brigitte Hamann (b. 1940) is an author and historian based in Vienna. She was born in Essen, Germany, and studied history in Münster and Vienna before returning to Essen to work as a journalist. In 1965 she married the historian and academic Günther Hamann (1924-1994), moved to Vienna and took joint Austrian-German citizenship. She earned her doctorate at the University of Vienna with a 1978 thesis on the life of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, published in book form that same year. Her first work to be translated into English was The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1986, later reissued in Faber Finds). Subsequent books have included Hitler's Vienna: A Dictator's Apprenticeship (1999) and Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth (2005).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 6197 KB
  • Print Length: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Faber Finds (5 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008AITH44
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #103,603 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Amelrode VINE VOICE
When Brigitte Hamann first published her biography it was an instant sensation.

I remember reading it during skiing holidays in Austria and I was completely absorbed and the time and when haven recently re-read it I still am.

Out goes the super romantic notion of the ever beautiful but unhappy Empress who was tragically murdered but instead one learn to understand this difficult, unhappy and nevertheless fascinating creature. Here is a woman who did not want to be an Empress and who in the end did what she wanted to do. She did not perform and forfilled her pre-designed role as a dutiful Empress. However, she pulled her weight in moments of crisis. It is remarkable how she called the shots in her marriage as her husband was quite weak and used to female dominance.

Birgitte Hamann is in my view from the thousands of biographies on Elisabeth who captured this woman best. Every page is a pleasure to read!!

This is a MUST for all who have an interest in Sissi: a benchmark in the writing of biographies.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real 'Sisi' 11 July 2011
I have always wanted to know more about the charismatic 'Sisi, Empress of Austria, but my sources never seemed to go far enough - the romantic German film seen many years ago, various written accounts, and of course the all dancing and singing 'Sisi' on the Andre Rieu DVD. Now this book has satisfied all my requirements, giving the in-depth well-documented story of this extraordinary woman's life, and the turbulant history of the Habsburg Empire. A jolly good read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Either badly translated or badly written... 10 May 2010
By L. Boer
...but if you're a die-hard fan of the Sissi-films, you'll finish this bio simply for the sake of having read it. It's not up to the standards set by other biographers such as Alison Weir, in two ways: bad construction and bad writing. As for the latter, I'm not sure whether it's because the German text is bad in itself or whether it's a bad translator. As for the first, that's a blameworthy mistake. The chapters are divided along 'themes' - her love of horse-riding, her love of Hungary, her children - and it simply doesn't work. I'm only slightly known with Austria's history, and given the structure of the book, I completely lost sight of what happened when and how certain events influenced Sissi's life. It does provide an overview of her character, but Hamann doesn't explain how Sissi became the woman who was, at the end of her life, happy to die.

Given the above criticism, however, I do believe this is the best biography (in English, that is) about her. If you don't want a reality check on your Romy Schneider-fantasies, don't read it. It is, all in all, a very tragic story.
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