Elisabeth von Österreich by Martha Schad
1998 Deutsche Taschenbuch Verlag
This was the first book, and incidentally the first biography that I've read in German. I deliberately chose a short one on a person that I knew I'd love to read about. I've already read two biographies on the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, and one on her son, so I was already well-acqainted with the subject matter. It was useful, considering that I had to constantly interrupt my reading to refer to my trustworthy dictionary.
Because the book was so short, I hardly expected it to be a thorough account of Sissi's life. Instead, it was divided into key themes and events, for example, her nomadic lifestyle of endless travelling, her relationship with Hungary, her son's suicide and her own tragic assassination. The most out-of-place choice (out of a total of eleven chapters) was the the chapter about her relationship with the Empress Eugénie of France. While it is an interesting relationship, it is not really a central point of her life. Rather, Schad could have elaborated on her relationship with her mother, sisters and daughters -- instead, there is an entire chapter dedicated to her cousin Ludwig II of Bavaria. None of it was uninteresting, but not necessarily representative of her life as a whole.
Overall, I rather enjoyed reading a biography organised thematically as opposed to being a chronological narrative. Also, there were many illustrations along the way, many of which that I had not seen before, so I was delighted. It was a good recap of Sissi's life in a new way (and a new language!). So, it was a pleasant read, but for a more detailed and thorough account of her life, I recommend The Lonely Empress by Joan Haslip and Elisbet d'Autriche by Egon C. Corti.