Christina Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric Hardcover – 5 Apr 2004
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'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.'
'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.
Top Customer Reviews
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!
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 ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.