About the Book
Title: Not So Happily Ever After
Author: Susan Barnett Braun
Genre: Young Adult
Release date: July 12, 2012
Think history is boring? Then you’ve never met Mad King Ludwig, who inspired Walt Disney with his magnificent castle in the clouds. He ruled the German kingdom of Bavaria for twenty-two years, inspiring his people by his support for the arts. And yet, “Mad King Ludwig” rarely appeared in the capital or attended any government functions. He slept most of the day and stayed awake all night. He dined with his horse and waved pistols at servants. He created a fantasy world inside his castles, complete with caves and trap-door tables. To this day, no one is sure exactly what caused his untimely death in a lake. Who was this man: fairy tale king? Insane eccentric? Mad King Ludwig’s life followed many twists and turns on its way to Not So Happily Ever After. The book’s intended audience is young adults, but it is perfect for adults wanting to learn more about Ludwig also.
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I enjoyed this biography for youth. It is clearly written, has some humor, and reveals so many quirky aspects of Ludwig's life that it kept my interest. Why read about Ludwig? Even now his life is a mystery. Some think him insane as was his younger brother. Others think him only eccentric, building castles. Much of the time he acted as if he was a fairy tale king living in some fantasy world.
This would be a good book for middle school aged youth to get them interested in reading biographies. It is not so long that readers will lose interest. Ludwig was such an odd character, I can see where young people would enjoy reading about his strange life. I mean, who else requested his favorite horse eat a multi-course meal with him in his dining room?
My rating: 4/5 stars.
About the Author
Susan Barnett Braun earned a BS in retail management from Indiana University and an MA in education from the University of Alabama. She taught for eight years in northeast Indiana, earning a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Study Scholarship. Susan has had work published in Parents, Children’s Ministry, and The Secret Place. She also writes online for Fort Wayne Visitor’s Bureau and blogs at Girls in White Dresses. She is married with three wonderful young adult daughters. Susan enjoys reading, playing piano and organ, and spending her time with her family and pets (currently three rabbits and a chinchilla).
Guest Post from Susan
I first learned about King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Germany, while I was a high school German student. He fascinated me then, and he has continued to through several decades now. Ludwig is a hero to the Bavarian people. In America, we too have our heroes: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln. But Ludwig was different. He was so eccentric and unusual that I found him impossible to ignore. As a teacher, I taught my students about this fascinating king each year. They, too, loved him. I decided to write Not So Happily Ever After so that teens could be introduced to Ludwig as I had been. However, since the book has come out, a majority of its readers have been adults. What makes Ludwig so compelling? Oh, where to begin? There are many quirky anecdotes about him: he once invited his favorite horse to dinner in the palace, complete with china and crystal. Ludwig insisted on hiding behind large floral arrangements when he was forced to attend state dinners. He preferred to work at night and sleep during the day. The king built wonderful castles. His most famous, Neuschwanstein, inspired even the talented Walt Disney. If you’ve visited Disneyland or Disney World, the castles at those parks are the Disney version of Ludwig’s real-life home. Ludwig has an air of mystery too, continuing to his still-unexplained death. ”I want to remain an eternal mystery to myself and others,” he once famously said. You’ll have to read the book to learn more. I can pretty much guarantee that this king, who has been dead now for over 130 years, will pique your interest. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you decided to start planning a trip to Bavaria to see Ludwig’s castles in person once you finish reading …
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I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review.