Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Book Review: THE COUNTESS by Rebecca Johns

A compelling case would be a gross understatement. “The Countess” tells Elizabeth Bathory’s side of the story like no one else can; from her own mouth she will tell you the truth. This novel brings to light a whole new prospective, a very unexpected one that will leave you aching to do your own research on histories most notorious woman serial killer.  Elizabeth in the past has been made out to be one of the darkest characters. I also heard that The Brothers Grimm was so compelled by Elizabeth and her wicked ways that they based the Evil Queen in Snow White after her. This book is different from the stereotypical stories of Elizabeth. In this one it explores the fact that maybe just maybe a woman who becomes so powerful in her own right that everyone might turn on her like a pack of jackals in the jungle. They all had their motives but was Elizabeth really that bloody thirsty maniac in a corset or a woman that needed to be brought to head because she could undo everything the men did not want her to be a part of.  After all men ruled the world and women too back then.

Elizabeth Bathory lived a privileged life from the beginning. Her parents were both of the highborn nobility of Hungary. Just like the norm of the times she was married off you to a rich heir, Ference Nadasdy. She was sent to Ference’s household years before the actual wedding as per request of Elizabeth’s future mother in law. She was to learn the Nadasdy way of running a household. After Ference and Elizabeth’s wedding the previously strained relationship did not get any better. It was noticeable even by the servants that their relationship was defiantly not all blushing roses. The couple finally had a breakthrough. By chance the two had bonded over the punishment of the servants. Violence reared it ugly beginning here. But it was able to break down Elizabeth and Ference walls and they became a real husband and wife to each other. Life took a very positive turn at that moment. Their relationship blossomed and they added three girls and two boys to the family household. 

It came across to me that Elizabeth’s cruelty to her servant girls started out as a kind of legitimate thing. There is a reason why they still use the saying “medieval punishment”. It was not exactly backed by human rights groups back then. I fear as things rapidly spiraled out of control when Elizabeth lost Ference. It was very suddenly that he passed and she had not made plans for a life with out him. Twenty-nine years of marriage had taken a toll on Elizabeth and she was not exactly young anymore. She was nearing her fifties and Ference had wished for her to remarry. Not just to anyone but his closest boon companion Gyorgy Thurzo.

Elizabeth did pursue Thurzo but she also attempted to collect a very large debt she inherited from her husband. At the time she thought she was doing the right thing but all it did was bring attention to her. She found her relationship with Thurzo satisfying. But her continued confrontations with her ladies and servants were escalating even more on a daily basis.  Elizabeth’s life was intense and living as a strong independent widow in a world ruled by men she was an anomaly.  The bad part for her was many of them were in debt to her. Elizabeth was cruel but it was a cruel world and she just wanted to survive it.

4.5/5 Really compelling it really opened my eyes to maybe there be another side of this monster of history. I dare anyone not to read this book and not look it up on the Internet when you are done. The only other book I can remotely relate this one to is “The Last Queen” by C.W. Gortner. This book really was not as violent as I thought it would be but it does have a few nasty scenes. I would highly recommend this book on Elizabeth Bathory  because it is an excellent take on an old story that maybe we all miss understood…or maybe it is all the delusions of a demented violent woman.
  • FTC- Book was sent to me for review.
  • Rated R-Violence



Patty Woodland said...

Interesting cover. It sounds like a really good, compelling book

Isi said...

Discovering a new side of some hystorical characters is great: you have another interesting point of view.
Now I want to read something about Elizabeth Bathory :)

Margaret said...

Nice review, another book to add to by tbr pile.

TLB said...

Thanks for the great review! So glad you found something in the book you liked.

Rebecca Johns

TLB said...

Thanks for the great review! Glad you found in it something compelling.

Rebecca Johns

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