Just the right blend of amusement and scholarship makes this an excellent example of entertaining and informative collective biography. The four ladies described all wanted to live life with their emotions at concert pitch; all had been heavily influenced by the novelists, poets and artists of the romantic school in vogue during the first half of the 19th century. Caroline de Berry tried to reclaim the Bourbon throne of France for her son. Marie d'Agoult devoted herself to Franz Liszt and together they reached a frenzy of semi-religious sensibility before she got realistic and he got uncomfortable. Eve Hanska idealized Balzac and was disappointed when she found she didn't have a god on her hands, just a man. Marie Bashkirtseff, youngest and most romantic of the lot, died of consumption (the most romantic of deaths) but not before she began to suspect the amount of self-hypnosis romantic living required. The ladies got annoyed, even a little sour, when life refused to imitate art. Dramatic idealism gently teased.