I was sorely tempted.
Here's the weekend breakdown -- Mike attending our friends' wedding festivities and me holding down the fort: two (yep, two) bad chick flicks (and as I write this, a third UK chick comedy waiting in the wings), dinner with a friend, one yoga class (one is better than none!), and three finished reads. Yep, three! Friday was my bad day as far as making a choice, but I finished one Saturday and two on Sunday (and since I'm preposting, the day's not quite over).
And what's that? No Naughty Bear! Not at all! In fact, I didn't spend all that much time channel surfing, playing Bejeweled, or sitting and staring at the bookshelves either. Well, not too much time staring at the bookshelves. I bought a new shelf on Friday and spent the evening reorganizing. It was productive staring for the most part!
Anywho, the first book knocked out of the stack this weekend was a new historical fiction about the Countess of Bathory. I kind of wasn't sure what to expect from this one. The Countess of Bathory, as you may know, has inspired horrific tales throughout the years (and a horrifically bad horror movie as well -- and why was it set in New Orleans, I'd really like to know?!).
Bathory, a seventeenth century Hungarian countess, was dubbed a vampire and said to have bathed in her servants' blood. Rebecca Johns's book, based on existing records of the time, paints a different picture of the Countess. In The Countess, Erzsebet Bathory was raised in a privileged household and married into her title. Her obsession with keeping an orderly home and making sure that she was viewed and respected as master led her to extreme punishment tactics with her servants.
Interestingly, Johns does touch briefly on the possibility that Bathory's own punishment may have been somewhat politically motivated, but I didn't really feel that it was a strong part of the book. It really is a fascinating look at a woman I didn't know much about, though. I also found it interesting, and maybe I was reading too much into it, that I felt as though there was a hint of perverse obsession with violence in Bathory's husband as well. It's not until he sees Bathory humiliatingly punishing a servant girl that he begins to show interest in his own wife. I don't know. Reminds me of another historic couple... (and I happen to know there's a book coming out about them soon).
The Countess showed, I think, a lot of restraint for Johns. Honestly, the book could have gone so many different ways, playing on the legend of Bathory. All in all, I think it stands on its own feet among other fictional historic bios. Johns's style kept me captivated and Bathory's story is truly fascinating.