Review: Elisabeth, The Princess Bride

Elisabeth: The Princess Bride, Austria-Hungary, 1853 (The Royal Diaries)Elisabeth, The Princess Bride
by Barry Denenberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Elisabeth, Princess Bride / 0-439-26644-0

Our beautiful subject, Elisabeth, is another rather obscure princess and something of a late edition to the Royal Diary series - her own death precedes World War I by just a couple of decades.

This is a very short book. The listing is for 151 pages, but after accounting for the epilogue and the "Author's Note" which sums up Elisabeth's later life and death, we are left with less than 100 pages of actual diary. The diary covers only the very short period of Elisabeth's engagement and wedding, and the result feels very rushed and hurried. There is very little "scenery" here - we have almost no insight as to how Elisabeth lives, what she eats, nor how the countryside fares during this time. Indeed, this diary feels encapsulated in a bubble of time - if the cover didn't say it was 1853, I would have no idea when these events are taking place at all.

The writing is hurried and somewhat sloppy - I was halfway through the book before I felt comfortable with my guess that "Poppy" was, in fact, Elisabeth's father and not a nickname for someone, anyone else. Since "Poppy" is introduced so rapidly and with such odd remarks, such as that he comes and goes like a ghost, or that he has lovely, dreamy eyes, and so on, that I wasn't sure if "Poppy" was short for "papa", or was a lover, or an imaginary friend. Somewhat disconcertingly, this princess suffers from anorexia nervosa and refuses to eat, bragging about her impossibly tiny waist and knee-length hair - this may not be the impression parents want young women to receive with regards to "beautiful princesses".

I struggled with rating this book. The short length and hurried manner were frustrating, but I did enjoy the reading and I found the twist both interesting and realistic as Elisabeth learns, sadly, that a child marriage is (and I'm paraphrasing her quote here) "a commitment I did not understand and a bond I could never break". I would recommend checking this out from the library, as the full price is just too much for a book this short.

~ Ana Mardoll

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