Forty-five years ago, Dan Jacobson's novel The Evidence of Love chronicled the fallout caused by a wealthy South African socialite romancing a coloured boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The same narrative outline is replayed in All For Love, except that the setting is late nineteenth-century Vienna and the novel's protagonists, Princess Louise of Belgium and Geza Mattachich, both really existed. Indeed they each wrote self-serving autobiographies, to which Jacobson extensively refers, as well as relying on Gerd Holler's biography of Princess Louise. Such a curious blend of academic insight and romantic fiction might have caused another writer to career into a literary cul-de-sac, but, with his tenth novel, Jacobson pulls it off in style.
Princess Louise, the eldest daughter of the insufferable King Leopold II of Belgium, is an established figure at the court of Emperor Franz Joseph during the twilight years of the Habsburg dynasty. However her lot is miserable, primarily owing to the behaviour of her husband, Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg, whom