The Countess: A Novel

The Countess: A Novel

  • Publish Date: 2010-10-12
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Rebecca Johns

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Was the Blood Countess historys first and perhaps worst female serial killer? Or did her accusers create a violent fiction in order to remove this beautiful, intelligent, ambitious foe from the male-dominated world of Hungarian politics?

In 1611, Countess Erzsbet Bthory, a powerful Hungarian noblewoman, stood helpless as masons walled her inside her castle tower, dooming her to spend her final years in solitary confinement. Her crimethe gruesome murders of dozens of female servants, mostly young girls tortured to death for displeasing their ruthless mistress. Her opponents painted her as a bloodthirsty krataa witcha portrayal that would expand to grotesque proportions through the centuries.

In this riveting dramatization of Erzsbet Bthorys life, the countess tells her story in her own words, writing to her only sona final reckoning from his mother in an attempt to reveal the truth behind her downfall. Countess Bthory describes her upbringing in one of the most powerful noble houses in Hungary, recounting in loving detail her devotion to her parents and siblings as well as the heartbreak of losing her father at a young age. She soon discovers the price of being a woman in sixteenth-century Hungary as her mother arranges her marriage to Ferenc Ndasdy, a union made with the cold calculation of a financial transaction. Young Erzsbet knows she has no choice but to accept this marriage even as she laments its loveless nature and ultimately turns to the illicit affections of another man.

Seemingly resigned to a marriage of convenience and a life of surreptitious pleasure, the countess surprises even herself as she ignites a marital spark with Ferenc through the most unromantic of acts: the violent punishment of an insolent female servant. The event shows Ferenc that his wife is no trophy but a strong, determined woman more than capable of managing their vast estates during Ferencs extensive military campaigns against the Turks. Her naked assertion of power accomplishes what her famed beauty could not: capturing the love of her husband.

The countess embraces this new role of loving wife and mother, doing everything she can to expand her husbands power and secure her familys future. But a darker side surfaces as Countess Bthorys demand for virtue, obedience, and, above all, respect from her servants takes a sinister turn. What emerges is not only a disturbing, unflinching portrait of the deeds that gave Bthory the moniker Blood Countess, but an intimate look at the woman who became a monster.

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