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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A REALLY INTERESTING READ, 8 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Becoming Lola (Kindle Edition)
What a fascinating life this lady led. Love her or hate her, and there was so much to dislike about this fiery, fearless, selfish woman. However, with the depth of knowledge Harriet Steel brings to this novel, you realise it was little wonder that Eliza created the great Lola Montenz.

From a childhood in India cosseted by her father and servants, she was at best ignored by her mother and at worst openly despised by her. On the death of her father her mother quickly remarries and thankfully her stepfather seems to have affection for her. However, he submits to his wife when she insists on sending Eliza away to be educated and they agree on his family in Scotland.

Imagine how she must have felt being sent away by her mother to sail across the sea with Mrs Innes a lady she didn't even know, into London and then straight onto Scotland. What an adjustment Eliza would have had to make from the sweltering heat and spicy food of India to the cold solitude of Montrose. Then to be recalled years later by her mother who has arranged marriage for her, to an old man, albeit it a wealthy gentleman, she has never met. Young and nave, Eliza runs away with Thomas James, a `charming' family friend who promises to look after her. Of course she's seduced, leading to their marriage, but all is not well and she eventually leaves him; leading Eliza on a path of one lover after another and her eventual emergence as Lola.

Her love affair with Dujarier is heart-breaking. Her love affair with King Ludwig I of Bavaria makes her many enemies but in her single minded view of the world if people are not her friends, then they must take the consequences of being her enemies. She's a master manipulator and her sheer greed seems to overtake reasoning eventually leading to her loss of everything and instrumental in the abdication of the King.

The abandonment by her mother must have been hugely significant in shaping the lady she became. The biggest insight into Lola's sheer determination, single mindedness and arrogance is this passage from the book `a title would give her a position in society. It would show the world that she was not just some hole-in-the-corner mistress, but that she was loved and honoured by a king. And wherever she was, she hoped her mother would hear of it `.

I couldn't help but feel compassion and even admiration at times for this Victorian celebrity, way before her time. Achieving her ambitions in this day and age would be difficult but in Victorian times - unbelievable.

Highly recommended, but why four star instead of five. Lola's relationships felt rushed in places with not enough substance and I wasn't compelled to read this novel at every available opportunity. Also the formatting for Kindle wasn't brilliant, no table of contents, making maneuvering around difficult; but I still found it a really enjoyable. Well done Harriet Steel.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Sep 2012 14:41:55 BDT
H D. Steel says:
Becoming Lola Many thanks for your review. I'm glad you found the book interesting. Harriet

Posted on 25 Sep 2012 23:14:48 BDT
I certainly did, keep up the good writing!
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