Monday, June 2, 2014

"The Unfinished Waltz" (translated from the portuguese title) by Catherine Clément

Synopsis (translated): They met in 1874. Sixty years later, in 1934, he had eighty-six years and only then knew the truth. Sixty years for a love that didn’t exist, but lasted an entire life.

                Nothing more than three dances, letters and a poem. He kissed her. She ran away. Sixty years of mystery and of daily basis, crossed by a winning capitalism and the first Bosnian War. The syphilis attacks Vienna, the refugees are everywhere, scandals too, suicides multiplies… E, during all this time, Elizabeth of Austria writes to Franz Taschnik, worker from the Ministery of International Affairs.

                Behind the Habsburg’s Europe, the Balkan’s War and The Vienna from Strauss, with an epidemic in the background, beyond the myth that is Elizabeth, the “Unfinished Waltz”, inspired by an authentic episode from Sissi’s life, shows in a magnificent way the painful happiness from forbidden loves.

My thoughts: Beautifully written! The romance was extremely delicate filled with real historical facts that made this book a joy to read. Empress Elizabeth was a misunderstood woman, ahead of her time that lost most of her life being a regent for a country that wasn’t your homeland and that never really liked her. One fateful night, she escapes from the palace, disguised in a costume for a ball and with her chaperone with her, and meet Franz Taschinik, who worked in the international bureau. He suspects that she might be the Empress, but if she was he would go to jail or worse, die, because of their dance, their flirting and their one kiss. Yes, one kiss, and they were in love for the rest of their life! Is there something more beautiful than this?

                Because of their encounter, they exchange a few letters, but they would never be able to be together because he was a nobody and she… well, she was the Empress! She couldn’t leave the Emperor… never, until death took them apart. So as time goes by, Franz continues with his life: marries, has kids, but never forgot about that one night with a girl named Gabriela, but that was actually the Regent Elizabeth.

                                Only when Franz is reeeally old and with a title – given to him as a wish of Who? Let’s see if you get correct – he finds out that the woman he has been looking all those years, that exchanged letters with her and everything else was IN FACT the Empress Elizabeth of Austria. Even though he got married, had kids and lived with his granddaughter, he never forgot her, in fact he kept the fan that he took from her at the ball.

                I really liked this book. Sometimes it was a little bit of a drag because things happened slowly than a usual historical book nowadays happens. But I really liked it nonetheless. Catherine Clément showed not only the romance, but what was happening in Europe: the prelude of a Great War, the suffering of many nations, especially the Jews, the decay of the Austrian-Hungary Empire. Her writing was pleasant and classic, at least for those who like romances filled with History.

                It’s not a tiring book, and it will never be. Despite all the odds, their love grew and was cherished by both of them, making this novel a joy and shock in a few scenes. One thing that I really liked was the search for the strange words in the book -  the Author was faithful until the end, using even native words from Hungary and Austria itself, giving me a hard time looking them up! ;P

 and a half

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