Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating if slightly stupid woman, 18 Aug 2012
This review is from: Christina Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric (Paperback)
Queen Christina of Sweden was the only daughter of one of Sweden's greatest kings. That was too much to live up to, and after puttering at being Queen for a few years and doing a fairly lame job she decided to abdicate, taking care to arrange a substantial pension for herself first. The story of the next forty years, as told in this meticulously researched and beautifully written book, is totally fascinating. The author Veronica Buckley clearly ended up liking Christina despite her sometimes appalling behaviour, her constant arrogance and her slightly pathetic instance on the formalites of Queendom. She obsessed about what kind of chair visitors had to sit on, with very subtle grades from backless, to one with arms, to a stool, to standing for the the whole time, depending on their rank in the world. Yet this formality contrasted sharply with her behaviour. She would wander happily around Paris chatting to local people and hailing any carriage that might pass by, she filled her home with rogues and ruffians and she dressed like a washerwoman.

I loved this book, the finely drawn detail of it and the grand sweep of it. Buckley cleverly links up Christina's actions and writings with possible and likely motivations, and makes her real and believable (although sometimes, like the author apparently did, I found myself shouting at the book "WHY? Why would you do such a silly thing when all you had to do was......" )It was almost like Christina had flashes of really good ideas, noble causes and geniune concerns and then lost the plot. Again and again.

The horrible murder of Mondaleschi was a black stain on Christina's character yet I felt she got swept away in the moment somehow, and then realised what she had done. Or maybe not - the infuriating woman could be callous sometimes and stupid as well. I don't know why I liked her but the more I read the more she interested me.

The doubts about her sexuality seem unlikely to me, she clearly liked woman and I am sure she was a lesbian, however the author allows us to make our own judgements on that score. Her sexual orientation made her appear to be a feminist but she wasn't really, she actually thought women were soft and rather silly things and wished in many ways she could have been a man.

This is a highly readable and absorbing book about an interesting life, I recommend it to anyone who likes history, biography or just a really good read!
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Sue Bentley
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Location: Cheshire

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