In the raucous book of the month, Royal Affairs, Leslie Carroll takes readers on a lively tour through some of history’s busiest boudoirs. Everyone enjoys a good love story, unfortunately kings and queens could rarely choose a mate for love. Royal marriages were usually arranged to secure stronger alliances and a few heirs in the royal nursery. Rarely, did a happily-ever-after occur when the bride stepped off the boat. Carroll reminds us that it was the love affairs that happened outside of the marriage that provide a glimpse into a king or queen's true desires and reveal the kind of paramour that could command royal attention.
I especially enjoyed Carroll’s conversational writing style. I felt like I was sitting down for tea with a gossipy friend spilling the dirt on the latest rumors. Royal Affairs would also make the perfect gift book for the attention deficit reader (like me) because you can read it in parts and skip around to your favorite royals. And although this book falls into the adult genre, give it to that history loving teen on your Christmas list (or that teen who does not know yet there is a history lover inside of them).
Although the entertainment factor is high for this book, I must add that Royal Affairs is not just another frivolous romp through British history. Behind the bodice ripping is some real history. In each section, Carroll raises questions on how these dalliances changed the course of history. What if Mary Queen of Scots had not been such a dullard when choosing men? What if Charles II had divorced his wife and chosen a more fertile bride? What if Henry VIII had never met Anne Boleyn? From the Angevins to the Windsors, Carroll’s meticulous research uncovers the men and women behind the dutiful monarchy and will have you contemplating why some behind-the-scenes affairs got center stage in our history books and some did not.
When I finished Royal Affairs, I found myself comparing how a king behaved toward his queen vs. his mistress or how a dutiful queen behaved when not wearing the crown. Edward IV may have honored and loved his wife Elizabeth Woodville, but it was Jane Shore that captivated him through the years. Henry VIII respected his first wife Catherine enough to stay married to her for over twenty years until the magnetic Anne Boleyn flashed her sultry eyes. And Elizabeth I may have wed herself to England, but only Robert Dudley knew the secrets in her heart. Luckily, matrimonial bliss gets its say in Carroll’s companion book, Notorious Royal Marriages available in stores soon.
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In non-royal news, John Anthony Beccia IV finally came into this world (sideways!) on October 21st weighing 9 pounds, 11 ounces. I am trying desperately to get caught up on posts, but some of my planned October posts may get pushed into November.