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Publisher's Summary

An enthralling biography about one of the most intriguing women of the Victorian age: the first self-invented international social celebrity.

Lola Montez was one of the most celebrated and notorious women of the nineteenth century. A raven-haired Andalusian who performed her scandalous “Spider Dance” in the greatest performance halls across Europe, she dazzled and beguiled all who met her with her astonishing beauty, sexuality, and shocking disregard for propriety. But Lola was an impostor, a self-invention. Born Eliza Gilbert, the beautiful Irish wild child escaped a stifling marriage and reimagined herself as Lola the Sevillian flamenco dancer and noblewoman, choosing a life of adventure, fame, sex, and scandal rather than submitting to the strictures of her era. 

Lola cast her spell on the European aristocracy and the most famous intellectuals and artists of the time, including Alexandre Dumas, Franz Liszt, and George Sand, and became the obsession of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. She then set out for the New World, arriving in San Francisco at the height of the gold rush, where she lived like a pioneer and performed for rowdy miners before making her way to New York. There, her inevitable downfall was every bit as dramatic as her rise. Yet there was one final reinvention to come for the most defiant woman of the Victorian age - a woman known as a “savage beauty” who was idolized, romanticized, vilified, truly known by no one, and a century ahead of her time.

©2017 by Cristina Morató. (P)2021 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved. Translation © 2021 by Andrea Rosenberg.

What listeners say about Divine Lola

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Kept My Atrention

Well researched and written. Fascinating details provided colorfully, made me want to know more about Lola. She lived a short but full life albeit, full of fantasies and lies. A very enjoyable read.

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Lola

A well written book about the well traveled life story of Lola Montez. The first half of the book I was appalled by Lola’s character and the choices that she made. This made it hard to see the strong, determined, persistent, witty, and progressive women that Lola was very until the later 1/2 of her life.

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Only somewhat interesting

I should have known better. I’m not interested in modern social celebrities, either. Give me a biography about someone who has actually done something besides splash their name all over the gossip columns! I just couldn’t get enough mojo collected to finish this book. I finally sent it back. Nothing against the writer.

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Boring

The story was very boring and the story tellers voice was awful. I was so tired of hearing about the spider dance.

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  • scoots
  • 11-02-21

Epic book on a life well travelled

Not having heard of Lola Montez beforehand, I was intrigued to find out more about the woman who was billed in the promo/book title as the first celebrity. Despite not knowing her, such a famed life - particularly for a woman living in the Victorian age - just had to be discovered.

The book is written as a dramatised biography: as there is not enough actual evidence to tell the full story, the author uses dramatic licence to fill in the gaps. Personally I really liked this style, much more so than if it had been a straight essay. It does however become a little repetitive, more so because Lola herself repeats the same patterns throughout her life - find/hone an act, go on tour, woo/ostracise her audience, take a lover/husband who can help further her career or social standing etc. That said, even for a woman to even think of doing any of this at that time, to tread her own path, would have been absolutely scandalous. I love how she is portrayed as a fiery woman with a fierce temper. I loved the descriptions of her flying into a rage, striking out verbally and even physically when she felt the need.

I listened to this book on Audible, and I must say that if I’d have been reading it on my Kindle I doubt that I’d have finished it. Even on Audible it’s a sizeable commitment at 15.5 hours. I put it on a higher speed and read it a bit quicker! I definitely think it could have done with being edited down, not labouring some of the more repetitive parts.

The one thing that stays with me more than anything is the terrible accents that the reader insists on using for the different characters. Truly awful, so much so it would put me off listening to anything else she does.

All in all, an epic book which, for all its foibles, I’m glad I read.