Lola Montez: A Life

Bruce Seymour, Author Yale University Press $60 (480p) ISBN 978-0-300-06347-9
Lola Montez (1820-1861) boasted of being the subject of more biographies than any other living woman. Seymour, a lawyer who credits his winnings on the Jeopardy! TV show for giving him time to research this detailed study, claims to have written the only accurate account of the woman Richard Wagner called a ""demonic being."" King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who threw away his kingdom for her, was only one of many men who became obsessed with Lola. Born in Ireland as Eliza Gilbert, raised in India (both her father and her stepfather were soldiers), married as a teenager to a friend of her mother, she left her husband after several love affairs and ran off to Spain, emerging as an exotic dancer named Lola. She took London, Paris and Munich by storm, charmed Lizst and became the mistress of Ludwig. The latter was so lavish in his infatuation and she--now the countess of Landsfeld--so outrageous in her behavior that the public outcry resulted in his abdication. Later, after being charged with bigamy in England, Lola came to America, where she found new fame first as a dancer, then as an actress and finally as a lecturer. Seymour is a droning writer who treats both large and small matters with the same evenhanded tone, but the details are here (seemingly all of them, right down to Ludwig's foot fetish), and it is a jim-dandy of a story. In the end, Lola found religion, devoted herself to good works and, when she died, was buried in Brooklyn. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/25/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-300-07439-0
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