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Christina Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric Hardcover – 5 Apr 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (5 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184115704X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841157047
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 14.8 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 664,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'A stunning debut and an absorbing page-turner. Veronica Buckley writes with immense style, vitality and great humanity. The fascinating tale she weaves is as compelling as the most riveting of novels.'

Alison Weir

'Christina's was a grandiose and reckless life, and Veronica Bukley narrates it with great authority and skill. It is a remarkable debut for an author whose previous occupations have been in the oil and music industries. This biography is filled with tragedy, farce and absurdity as popes, regents, mavericks, losers, philosophers and soldiers all involve themselves in Christina's wayward and eccentric progress, not very many enriching themselves in the process. As lives go, it certainly ain't dull, not for a minute'.

Geordie Greig, Literary Review

About the Author

Veronica Buckley was born in New Zealand. She has worked in diverse fields from music to the oil industry, and now lives in Paris with her husband,
writer Philipp Blom. This is her first book.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Reared as a boy by her charismatic, kingly father, and the subject of scandalous gossip regarding her bed-sharing with a female companion, Queen Christina cast aside her crown in favour of the easy life. Buckley's book is packed with action and humour, skilfully side-stepping much of the tortured politics that makes so many other books about Swedish history so difficult to take. But while nothing can fault Buckley's multilingual research, her honesty can backfire: Christina comes across as sad, lonely, and ultimately a trifle stupid. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her grasping attempts to hang onto power, even as she capriciously rejects responsibility. The flighty way she summons the philosopher Descartes, only to indirectly cause his death is another example of her regal self-absorption. But Buckley is not afraid to tell Christina's story warts and all, and that alone is enough to gain her five well-deserved stars.
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By Amelrode VINE VOICE on 27 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
is perhaps the word most suited for the book and its subject.
Queen Christina is perhaps - next to her hero father Gustav Adolf - the best known Swedish monarch. Her reign - as a child queen and as a short lived effective ruler - covers partly the time when Swedish power in Europe was at its height. The very daughter of the protestant hero king abdicating and turning into a Roman Catholic is itself a remarkable story. Her personality and her life style after the abdication were the talk of European courts and often provactive to scandalous.
This story has however been told many times. So ist is quite extraodinary that the author manage to shed new light into the personality of the Queen mainly by comparing reality with the very own view the Queen held about events and especially about her very own person. This is a remarkable achievement and very very interesting indeed to read about. So step by step a description of the Queen emerges properly not a flattering, but always an interesing one. She was a person who could not put into a box; one cannot describe her by using stereotypes. She was very special, but that includes not being very easy or in her case not even very likeable. Her very own perspective of her talents, abilities and political judgement did not correspond with the realities. I was wandering whether Sweden was indeed much better off without her as monarch...
Judge for yourself and and above all enjoy this book. It is written in a wonderful style. I would love to give more than just 5 stars as it is really difficult to write a interesting biography with a new persepctive about a personality about whom so many biographies have already been written. The author succeeded brilliantly!
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Format: 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.
Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like Georgina Masson in a previous book, Buckley reveals the psychology of Christina, not just restless and eccentric, but so ahead of her times in some ways yet so with her times in others. Impulsive, emotional and passionate, spending beyond her means, in the end she overestimated her shrewdness and scheming in the treacherous political arena of the 17th century. Absorbing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x93a62a2c) out of 5 stars 19 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93ba3918) out of 5 stars Christina, Queen of Sweden 2 May 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am doing my undergraduate research on this woman, and I found this book to be extremely helpful. I loved reading every word and I couldn't put it down. The more I learned about this fantastic, bizarre woman in history, the more I wanted to know. Extensively researched with all of the major texts (as far as I can tell), its most definately an entertaining and informative book. Kudos to this first-time author!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93ba3480) out of 5 stars Fascinating Biography of Enigmatic Swedish Queen 3 May 2015
By Reader from Washington, DC - Published on
Format: Paperback
Queen Christina of Sweden baffled her own 17th century society and continues to puzzle modern people. She was in some respects a 21st century woman who was somehow born in the wrong era.

She became queen of Sweden as a child, but resigned from her job in her late 20s and left Sweden for Rome to pursue artistic, spiritual, and cultural interests in an urban Roman Catholic environment she found more supportive than Sweden's rigid and mostly rural Lutheran society. Abdicating a throne to pursue "personal interests" was almost unheard of.

The mysteries surrounding her began with her birth, when the midwives declared her to be a boy, only to discover that she was a girl. As a child, Christina looked female, but had mostly interests that were considered "male" in her era -- riding, hunting, weapons, military history, and Greek and Roman soldier heroes. She preferred wearing men's clothes. She was bisexual and openly fell in love with both women and men, causing immense scandal.

Her favorite companions were men who were "bad boys" -- dissolute adventurers who were soldiers and priests "gone wrong." Her other preferred companions were pretty and virtuous women. Once in Rome, she developed additional interests, converting to Catholicism and becoming a passionate art patron, while continuing to live a private life outside of the social and moral boundaries of her era.

In this entertaining and well-researched biography, Veronica Buckley explores Christina's adventurous life, both her victories and her defeats. Christina's wretched childhood and adult opposition to the status quo severely strained her emotional resources, leading to some dreadful tragedies and much self-centered behavior. Buckley presents Christina's dramatic journey in a fair and balanced manner. I was fascinated, and read every page.

I recommend this novel for royalty fans, feminists, members of the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) community, Swedish history enthusiasts, students interested in 17th century intellectual history, Christians interested in the 17th century conflicts between the Protestant Reformation and the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, and people interested in Baroque era art, music, sculpture, literature and science.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9421a6d8) out of 5 stars Disappointing 28 July 2014
By keetmom - Published on
Format: Paperback
History is littered with cases of royal offspring who ascend to the throne totally ill-prepared and personally unsuited for the role of monarch. Christina, briefly Queen of Sweden in the 17th Century, was one such whom fate dealt a very difficult hand. No one seemed to regard her as suited to the throne at all - her father would far rather she had been born a boy, her mother rejected her as ugly and her councillors manipulated and conspired against her at every turn. Yet she was a woman of remarkable talents and strong will who was portrayed on film by the great Greta Garbo. Sadly, Veronica Buckley's efforts to uncover her life are undermined by poor writing and bad editing. She seems to have brought real energy to the research, but in telling the tale she loses her way.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x948f9b94) out of 5 stars Christina the Dabbler 13 May 2014
By Dana Keish - Published on
Format: Paperback
Everyone knows of the great Virgin Queen of England, Elizabeth I. With the “heart and stomach of a king”, she was able to move England into the forefront of the European community. But what of the other Virgin Queen, Christina of Sweden? Born just a generation after Elizabeth, the young Christina succeeded to the throne as a child. Her seemingly great intellect promised the start of a epic age in Sweden, which had become a military power under her father and seemed poised to become intellectual power as well.

Of course, this didn’t happen. Most people are unfamiliar with Christina and that is why I read the book. Author Veronica Buckley has done an excellent job portraying the life of Christina. Many have criticized her approach to her subject, since it is evident in the book that the author doesn’t particularly care for Christina. Personally, I found this refreshing. I don’t think a biographer has to love or admire the focus of their work, but they must find them interesting. Christina was certainly a very interesting woman. As I read the book, I gave her my own appellation…rather than Christina the Great, or Christina the Terrible, I began to think of her as Christina the Dabbler. Provided with a fine education, Christina began to think of herself as an intellectual. Unfortunately, Christina could never stay with one subject long enough to master it. Her interests changed constantly and she longed for greater access to the great salons and museums of Paris and Rome. The cold and rugged conditions of Sweden definitely did not sit well with her plans. So in her mid-twenties, she abdicated the throne and converted to Catholicism. It was at this point, that Christina began to dress almost exclusively in men’s clothing and swore that she would never marry nor have children.
Christina made her way to Rome, where she was received as a prized convert. But rather than simply retire and fulfill her intellectual needs, she began scheming right way to thrust herself back in politics. But Christina was also a great dissembler…she never told the truth when a lie would serve her better. She believed herself to be one of the great political minds of her time and her schemes seldom came to fruition. She was not afraid to pull the “queen” card and spent most of her time worrying about seating arrangements (the queen sat in an arm chair while others had to stand or sit on a backless stool). Buckely provides a portrait of a woman who cast herself adrift by her own actions and spent the rest of her life at loose ends. I found the book to be extremely well written and while I didn’t come to admire Christina, I found her life fascinating.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x948f9aec) out of 5 stars Author so compelling I hated the Queen 16 July 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms Buckley has researched the Queen and portrays her in her conflicted state. As a genetic progeny of the Hapsburg dynasty, Christina demonstrates mental and personality confusion. Ascending the throne of Sweden at age 6, she needed the "old men" that her Father had put into place to govern until she was of age. Christina turned her hate and narcissism towards her Father's friend and governor, Axel Oxenstierna. Christina's erratic behavior destroyed herself in her abdication and religious conversion, and cost Sweden a great deal. Christina hated being a woman and encouraged rumors of Hermaphroditism and lesbian behavior to avoid marriage.
In adulthood, the Queen, in extravagance and without a throne, finally found a deep and companionate love with a Cardinal, close to the Pope. At last she desired to be a woman but refused the submissive sexuality of a woman.
At the end she is to be hated for irresponsible and narcissistic behavior, but pitied as a fragile, unloved child of a mentally unstable Queen Eleonora of Hapsburg, and the grand Vasa King, Gustaf Adolph, with whom she only imagined equality.
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