The Ludwig Conspiracy by Oliver Pötzsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book and will probably read it again some time. I visited Bavaria a number of years ago and saw the castles, so it was easy to picture the setting. I also did a lot of research about Prince Ludwig II just because he was an interesting and complex person. He is Germany's most famous king and he actually helped the country in providing work for the people surrounding the castles when they were built and in the present. Thousands of people visit these castles and immerse themselves in his legend providing the German government with a substantial income.
Before I read the book I had already formed the opinion that he was an artist and a dreamer and totally unsuited for the militaristic government that was being formed around him. It is sad that he was overthrown because he continued to build castles that he couldn't afford. The militaristic German governments have cost the German people so much more, both in money and in lives.
This work of fiction is based on the idea that there was a diary kept by someone loyal and close to Prince Ludwig and that the diary told the real story of his death. What was interesting is that this fictional journal was written in the same shorthand that Samuel Pepys used for his diary and Pepys' journal was untranslated for 200 years. The main characters are trying not only to translate the diary, but also to follow a code interspersed between the chapters.
I can sympathize with the main characters because my family was left with more than 1,000 old family letters and some of them were written by my grandfather and his brother. They both learned a form of shorthand in college and it is no longer used. It's frustrating to look at those letters and not be able to read them, especially because there is a family mystery about why my great uncle suddenly left school and those letters probably refer to it.
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