A brilliant reconstruction of the operatic--and catastrophic--romance of a Hapsburg princess and a lowly cavalryman
It was a great European scandal: she was the wife of a prince, the daughter of King Leopold II of the Belgians, and a familiar figure in the court of the aged emperor Franz Joseph. Her lover was Second Lieutenant Géza Mattachich. Ten years younger than the princess, a dashing figure in his fitted tunic and shiny boots, he was an undistinguished subaltern of dubious origin and extravagant ambition. Ahead of them both lay assignations, adultery, flight, the squandering of a fortune (not his; not hers either, as things worked out), a duel, imprisonment, bankruptcy, madness. And, as well, a genuine heroine--in the form of canteen worker Maria Stöger--who was no less ready than the princess and her soldier to risk all for love. With sparkling, satirical prose, All for Love moves from one end of pre-World War I Europe to the other. Shuttling between historical fact and fiction, between their time and ours, it evokes a world in which propriety conceals what is predatory, greedy, and corrupt. Long forgotten, Louise and Mattachich have been resurrected and placed, along with their few friends and many enemies, at the center of a drama that is both extravagant and profound.