Thursday, 12 March 2009
An Invitation to Dance by Marion Urch
SHE was the most sensational woman of her age. And way out of the league of any of today’s stars of stage, screen and scandal.
Sinuous Spanish dancer Lola Montez couldn’t cut her toenails without it making headlines across Europe.
She was Liszt’s lover and - temporarily - Alexandre Dumas’ good friend. Until his friend and her lover, a newspaper editor, died in a duel over her good name. Dumas coined the term femme fatale to define her.
But she wasn’t only Lola Montez. She was born Eliza Gilbert, stray daughter of the regiment - her milliner mother an offshoot of the aristocratic Olivers of Cork, her father a lieutenant who died of his first ill-judged drink of Ganges water.
Marion Urch’s novel is a page-turner: she follows Eliza through marriage, abandonment, affairs, a divorce that shocked society, and her reinvention as the sultry Spanish widow.
Lola Montez was briefly the power behind the throne - King Ludwig of Bavaria fell for her like a ton of bricks. But she wasn’t lucky for her lovers, and the king had to give up his throne.
Following her story is like tracking fame through 19th-century Europe.
Full of hot passion and blissfully ridiculous drama, An Invitation to Dance is spectacular fun.