According to the publisher, Maria Theresa of Habsburg has never been given a full-scale biography in English before. Now Vienna-born and educated Mr. Pick has done a splendid if sometimes ponderous portrait. He does not miss any of the excitement of her life, nor of her eventful time, admirably placing her within her historical context. Maria Theresa was feminine in the fullest, most Rubensian sense of the word: she was strong, tireless, intelligent, passionate, loving, cruel, and intuitive. She extended her fierce housekeeping activities (4000 florins for parsley) to the farther limits of Europe. She kept men in line-- whether dealing with her straying husband or the rapacious Frederick the Great. Lord Acton called her ""the most sensible and reasonable woman, much the best that had ever ruled."" It is to the author's credit that he also makes her lovable. In full control, he provides history spiked with all les petites histoires. The book is not easy but worthwhile reading, and the fact that the book is subtitled ""The Early Years"" promises a second volume.