The Bloodletter's Daughter by Linda Lafferty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read several negative reviews on this book, but I found it to be fascinating. I just didn’t see the stylistic problems noted by some others. The author’s words did not get in the way of a gripping tale of history and madness.
I checked on the internet to see what was known about the historical figures and found that the book followed what I read. I thought the character of Marketa, bloodletter's daughter, to be very well drawn. She was an inexperienced young girl and the fact that she misunderstood the reality of mental illness is plausible. When I was and Evaluator at the Diagnostic Center for the Dept. of Juvenile Corrections, the supervisors accidentally left me alone in the building while I was interviewing a very disturbed (and very large) 17 year old boy. All my experiences with the boy had been very positive until I pointed out that he couldn’t be released to his mother because he told me he hated her. Suddenly, my 6’ x 8’ office became very small when he reacted very badly to being challenged. I barely breathed while he struggled for control. (A few weeks later, I saw him handcuffed to his waist and waiting to be transferred to a mental hospital for an involuntary commitment.) I could well understand how Marketa could think that her special relationship with Don Julius would protect her.
I also found the history of the Hapsburgs fascinating. I started looking for images of the “Hapsburg lip” and found some interesting information about their inbreeding and mental problems. The mental problems of Don Julius became understandable as well as his father’s refusal to admit to the extent of his illness.
For anyone who enjoys history and especially this time period, this is a great book.
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