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Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric Paperback – September 27, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'A stunning debut and an absorbing page-turner. Veronica Buckley writes with immense style, vitality and great humanity. As compelling as the most riveting of novels.' Alison Weir 'Her book is much less a debut than the highly polished work of a writer who has been thinking about and loving her subject for years, and her enjoyment in the writing of Queen Christina's life is wonderfully translated into our pleasure in reading it.' Stella Tillyard, Sunday Times 'Veronica Buckley has a flair for description and relates this extraordinary life with sympathy and engaging panache.' John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph 'This is a splendidly robust and colourful account of a remarkable woman and the turbulent age in which she lived. Astonishingly, this is Veronica Buckley's first book. May she write many more.' Philip Ziegler, Daily Telegraph --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Veronica Buckley was born in New Zealand. She studied in London and Oxford, where she did her postgraduate work on Christina Alexandra. She now lives in Paris with her husband, writer Philipp Blom. This is her first book.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (September 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060736186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060736187
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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!
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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.
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I really struggled to get through the first 50 pages. It picked up a bit after that. The book is dry and really misses the chance to bring her to life. The facts are interesting, but the voice of the author is tedious. Disappointing!
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Format: Paperback
Here is an interesting book about a relatively little-known historical figure, Christina Queen of Sweden in the 17th century.

Christina was the daughter of a great Swedish King, Gustav Adolph the Great. She was intellectually gifted, spoke languages, conversed with great men of her day, and early on gained a reputation across Europe as a kind of enlightened ruler.

Her invitations to visit the Swedish Court were gladly accepted by Europe's famous figures, but the results often proved not so happy as might have been expected. One of the century's greatest intellects, Rene Descartes, made the trip, reluctantly at first but giving in finally to her blandishments, and died at her court. She kept the rooms cold and expected the great man to meet with her at dawn to discuss philosophy.

That event certainly was an early indicator of her rather bizarre personality. And so too, her behaviour after Descartes' death: she was full of superficial grief and vowed to build an impressive monument, but it was all forgotten shortly, a pattern of behaviour she repeated many times.

Christina proved an inept ruler, indeed she abdicated because she had no interest in the genuine work of ruling. She proved a person of less than shining ethics, a generally confused person, likely suffering from mental illness.

Christiana decided to become a Catholic, and her abdication of the throne of stoutly Protestant Sweden is closely associated with that fact. After carefully arranging matters like the succession and the revenues she would receive for the rest of her life, Christina travelled to Rome to meet and be welcomed by the Pope, who, naturally in view of the times - the Thirty Years' War from 1618 to 1648 - viewed her conversion as a victory for Catholicism.
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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.
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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.
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