Synopses & Reviews
During a short but incredible life, Lola Montez transformed herself from middle-class British daughter to notorious adventurer, attracting admirers and scandal wherever she went. This highly entertaining biography uncovers the real story of one of the best-known women of the Victorian era -- a dancer and actress, a power behind thrones, and a mistress to important men over four continents.
"A fantastic yarn.... We are ... grateful to be in the hands of an enthusiastic chronicler who has applied his talents to be bewitching subject". -- Hannah Pakula, New York Times Book Review
"An amazing story of a peerless adventuress, told with great verve". -- Independent on Sunday
"Seymour's narrative of Lola's various masquerades is so absorbing that the reader rarely has the time to wonder where he has mined his information....Superb reading". -- Flora Fraser, The Times (London)
"Bruce Seymour's Lola Montez...seems destined to become the definitive modern biography". -- Faye E. Dudden, Journal of American History
"It is tragicomedy with Bruce Seymour has researched in exhaustive detail, showing Lola at her most fractious, selfish, deceitful, demanding, silly and unlikable... Without sentimentalising his subject, he shows her deepening and changing". -- Alan Judd, Sunday Telegraph
"The best part of Bruce Seymour's biography is its richly detailed background....Mr. Seymour's gift for social and cultural history is an enjoyable and instructive constant amid the wear and tear of his subject". -- Florence King, Washington Times
"This is bedside reading of a high order". -- Ian McIntyre, The Times (London)
"When the marriage of the Victorian Eliza Gilbert ended and a love affair seemingly destroyed her reputation, she changed her name to Lola Montez, assuming the identity of an exotic Spanish dancer of noble descent. Seymour's absorbing biography seeks to separate the facts from the elaborate fictions of Lola's wild life of scandal and liaisons. In the fantasy with which she portrayed herself, Lola was a 19th-century Benvenuto Cellini!" Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
The exploits of Lola Montez--onstage as a dancer and an actress, in politics as a power behind thrones, and in bedrooms around the world--made her one of the best-known women of the Victorian era. Born Eliza Gilbert, daughter of British and Irish parents, she transformed herself into an aristocratic Spanish dancer, carrying on an audacious masquerade that took her to Europe, America, and Australia and attracting admirers and scandal wherever she went. When she died in 1861 at age forty, her obituary appeared in papers around the world. Yet her true story has always been obscured by the web of lies she constructed about herself. This absorbing and entertaining biography of Lola Montez is the first to reveal the facts of her incredible life.
Drawing on unpublished archives from four continents, Bruce Seymour describes Lola's disastrous early marriage to her mother's admirer, her many romantic liaisons after she left her husband, her disappearance to Spain when she was about to be sued for divorce, her reappearance as a Spanish noblewoman and dancer, and her love affairs with, among others, Franz Liszt. Seymour has been able to use the recently discovered intimate correspondence between Lola and King Ludwig I of Bavaria to recount how she won the heart of the aging king, how she was driven from the kingdom by an enraged mob, and how Ludwig ultimately abdicated because of her. Seymour presents an unretouched portrait of a woman of contradictory parts--a woman who was beautiful, intelligent, and courageous but was also monstrously egocentric and manipulative, and who was above all an independent woman ahead of her time.