Review: The Journal of Countess Francoise Krasinska by Klementyna Tanska Hoffman

Charming towering spires, castles, and palaces litter Poland in the 18th century which makes it the perfect backdrop for a fairytale romance. In The Journal of Countess Francoise Krasinska by Klementyna Tanska Hoffman we explore the true life fairytale romance of Francoise Krasinska and the Prince Royal, Charles Duke of Courland (Poland/Lithuanian region).

Klementyna Tanska Hoffman pens this historic account of the Countess Francoise courtship and hasty marriage to the Duke. Though it is a second-hand account of the events, they are historically accurate and offer a unique insight into the royal court during the Georgian era.

I am not familiar with Eastern European history….at all, so I was a little weary about reading this book when my friends over at Onesuch Press suggested I read it. However I knew it was a short read (about 120 pages) and since I love courtly history, I felt that by reading this, I might have the perfect excuse to build my historic base, and I was right!

I love reading primary sources and first hand accounts, especially of courtly life. I was surprised to see not much has changed in the world since 1759 (which is where the Journal opens). Girls still write in their diaries about boys they like, and they still hope upon hope that, that boy is looking at them….then the wish comes true! He returns said maidens affections and marries her, living happily ever after…..or so the story goes. Though that is not the case for the Countess.

Hoffman is a very talented spin doctor….she takes the Countess’s journal and letters and complies them into a well constructed Journal with the voice of Hoffman and the Countess merging together reminiscent of a Polish Jane Austen novel. The Countess’s older sister has just married a man she met for all of two minutes and has just quitted the family home to set up her own household leaving Francoise with a new found sense of freedom and responsibility.

The Countess is sent to Warsaw to continue her education and be introduced to court where the expectation is that she will make an advantageous match. She has already had one man propose to her, which her parents denied….the Countess agrees with her parents decision since she has her sights set on a much bigger fish–the Prince Royal.

When they finally meet at a ball, she falls in love with him instantly. He is seemingly taken with her as well, dancing only with her the first ball. He proceeds to call on her and her family and devotes all of his attentions to her. But everyone knows HRH is a charmer and notorious Cassanova….but this doesn’t discourage the Countess from losing her heart…..she believes he only has eyes for her…..and for a time she is probably right but alas the spell she casts on HRH is broken.

But not before she marries him. HRH asks for her hand in secret and marries the Countess in front of witnesses with her parents consent….but there is a problem, the King has no idea. After the marriage takes place, the Countess begins to see her situation for what is really is, the Prince Royal doesn’t acknowledge their marriage publicly, it isn’t until after the King dies that he somewhat admits the nature of their relationship. Sadly, the Countess was doomed to struggle most of her life and was never fully recognized in the station in which she deserved.

The Journal only covers the courtship period but Onesuch Press wrote a brilliant introduction and epilogue to fill the reader in on the historic background. I found The Countess herself to be charming and likable. She was witty (or Hoffman conveyed her as witty) and I loved reading her observations. One of my favorites was how she described her sister’s future husband upon meeting him, for days before his arrival it seemed like she was hoping he would be good looking and dashing….when she met him she was sorely disappointed, basically stating that he was old, boring, NOT much to look at, and lacked the refined polish that his time in France should have fostered.

The Countess’s observations were real and genuine, she sounded much like a typical modern school girl. Reading someones journal is so personal but in doing so, the reader gets the know the author in so much more of an intimate fashion. I loved reading this Journal! It was fun, fast paced…and let’s face it, who DOESN’T like a fairytale even if the ending isn’t happily ever after….there is something about the thrill of the chase that gets us all!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book:  The Journal of Countess Francoise Krasinska by Klementyna Tanska Hoffman

  • Paperback, 126 pages
  • Published March 2012 by Onesuch Press
  • ISBN 0987153277 (ISBN13: 9780987153272)

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 (charming narrative offering great historic insight)

Genre: Non Fiction, history, Regency/Georgian era, biography

Memorable lines/quotes:

So proud a lady ought not to remain in a position so humiliating (96)

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