Book News February 2020

The American Duchess

Paperback – 19 March 2020 (US) & 6 February 2020 (UK)

Life has always been made difficult for those marrying into England’s royal family. In 1936, just months into his reign, King Edward VIII proposed to Wallis Simpson, a divorced American woman. Gossip ran wild, and that cacophony of speculation and distrust both hid the real Wallis, and forced Edward into abdicating so that he might marry the woman he adored.

In this intimate biography Anna Pasternak seeks to understand Wallis – and her relationship with Edward and The Crown. Using testimony from her closest friends, she shows the warm, loyal, intelligent woman who was written off and undermined by the powerful, often manipulative men of the Establishment. This is Wallis Simpson’s story as it has never been told before.

Previously published as Untitled.

Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II

Paperback – 1 February 2020 (UK & US)

In November 2017 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. As a 13-year-old Princess, she fell in love with Prince Philip of Greece, an ambitious naval cadet, and they married when she was 21; when she suddenly became Queen at 25, their lives changed forever. Philip has been her great support, but fortunately she also had a solid foundation that helped prepare her for a life dedicated to duty. With previously unpublished material and unique memories from friends and relatives who have known her since childhood, this book looks afresh and in richer depth at her life as Princess, glittering yet isolating. Vivid detail and anecdotes reveal more about her, the era in which she grew up and the people who shaped her life. The archives of royal confidante Lady Desborough and Private Secretary Sir Alec Hardinge reveal unseen letters from the Princess and the royal family, giving intimate insights into their lives and minds. Here is her sadness at the death of her nanny, Alah; her joy in her children; her melancholy as a young wife when Philip returns to his ship; the sensitivities of her father. Here too is the Princess with the aristocratic Bowes Lyons, her mother’s family, who featured significantly in her life, yet rarely appear in books. The author sheds new light on anomalies surrounding the birth of her mother who, it has been asserted, was the daughter of the family’s cook. The strain of wartime on the royal family is highlighted in new material contrasting the stance of the Princess’s uncles, the Duke of Windsor and David Bowes Lyon. In contrast with her upbringing, Philip’s early life was turbulent, although their lives shared some interesting parallels. Lady Butter, a relation of Philip and friend of the Princess, recalls time spent with each of them; and unpublished documents show how intelligence agencies considered the socialist influence of the Mountbattens on Philip and thus on the royal court. More importantly, Princess traces how an “ordinary country girl” suddenly found herself in the line of succession to the crown at age ten when her Uncle, the Duke of Windsor, abdicated the throne to his brother Albert (“Bertie” to family and friends), the once and future King George VI. Breaking new ground for a future English monarch, she became the first female member of the royal family to serve on active duty during World War II, and broke tradition by sending her children away to school rather having them privately tutored. Indeed, by the time of her coronation in 1953, she had already achieved a “broad and solid background from which she could draw during the rapidly changing times of her long reign. Out of a little princess they made a Queen.”

The Last Hurrah: The 1947 Royal Tour of Southern Africa and the End of Empire

Hardcover – 11 February 2020 (US)

The Last Hurrah captures in vivid detail the 1947 royal tour of southern Africa, both the high-water mark of the British Empire and the very moment at which it began to unravel. It is also an intimate, revealing portrait of the royal family – King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret – hard at work in the national interest, and succeeding triumphantly against all odds.

Celestial Women: Imperial Wives and Concubines in China from Song to Qing

Paperback – 15 February 2020 (US & UK)

This volume completes Keith McMahon’s acclaimed history of imperial wives and royal polygamy in China. Avoiding the stereotype of the emperor’s plural wives as mere victims or playthings, the book considers empresses and concubines as full-fledged participants in palace life, whether as mothers, wives, or go-betweens in the emperor’s relations with others in the palace. Although restrictions on women’s participation in politics increased dramatically after Empress Wu in the Tang, the author follows the strong and active women, of both high and low rank, who continued to appear. They counseled emperors, ghostwrote for them, oversaw succession when they died, and dominated them when they were weak. They influenced the emperor’s relationships with other women and enhanced their aura and that of the royal house with their acts of artistic and religious patronage. Dynastic history ended in China when the prohibition that women should not rule was defied for the final time by Dowager Cixi, the last great monarch before China’s transformation into a republic

The Crown Dissected: Seasons 1, 2 and 3

Paperback – 7 February 2020 (US & UK)

Hugo Vickers is an acknowledged authority on the British Royal Family. He has commented on royal matters on television and radio since 1973 and worked as historical adviser on a number of films. He is the author of books on the Queen Mother, the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Andrew of Greece (Prince Philip’s mother) and Queen Mary all of whom are featured in the popular Netflix show, The Crown.

Since November 2016, Peter Morgan has presented millions of viewers with the first 3 seasons of The Crown, positioned as an accurate, dramatized portrayal of the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Now, in The Crown Dissected, Vickers separates fact from fiction in all 3 seasons of the series. Episode-by-episode analysis dissects the plots, characterization and historical detail in each storyline. Vickers tells us what really happened and what certainly did not happen.

It’s a must-read for fans of the show, and proves that more than a little artistic license has gone into the making of The Crown.

Diaries of an Egyptian Princess

Hardcover – 3 March 2020 (US) & 1 February 2020 (UK)

Princess Nevine Halim is a direct descendant of the dynasty that ruled Egypt from 1805 until the abdication of King Farouk in the wake of the Free Officers coup in 1952. The eldest of three children, she was born in Alexandria on 30 June 1930, the great-great-granddaughter of Muhammad Ali Pasha on her father’s side and the great-granddaughter of Khedive Ismail on her mother’s side. Drawing on her own diary, as well as those of her mother and grandmother, she takes us on a journey from the First to the Second World War, from Egypt to Europe and the United States, from a world of glamor, wealth, and privilege to the fugitive existence of the exile and social outcast after 1952. We also meet her father, Abbas Halim, the charming rebel prince who clashed with King Fuad for championing the rights of workers, as well as many other members of the Egyptian royal family and a glittering host of international royals, politicians, and film stars. Packed with royal gossip and political intrigue, with tales of young love and fashionable society, and of princes and princesses dancing perilously close to the edge of a way of life that would one day fall apart and then vanish, Diaries of an Egyptian Princess is an event-filled account of an endlessly fascinating epoch in modern Egyptian history.

Matilda: Empress, Queen, Warrior

Paperback – 17 March 2020 (US) & 11 February 2020 (UK)

This new biography explores Matilda’s achievements as military and political leader, and sets her life and career in full context. Catherine Hanley provides fresh insight into Matilda’s campaign to claim the title of queen, her approach to allied kingdoms and rival rulers, and her role in the succession crisis. Hanley highlights how Matilda fought for the throne, and argues that although she never sat on it herself her reward was to see her son become king. Extraordinarily, her line has continued through every single monarch of England or Britain from that time to the present day.

philippa hainault

Philippa of Hainault: Mother of the English Nation

Hardcover – 15 October 2019 (UK) & 1 February 2020 (US)

This is the first full-length biography of the queen who stood in the middle of the some of the most dramatic events in English history. Philippa’s marriage was arranged in order to provide ships and mercenaries for her mother-in-law to invade her father-in-law’s kingdom in 1326, yet it became one of the most successful royal marriages in English history, enduring for more than four decades. Philippa stood by her husband’s side as he began a war against her uncle, Philip VI of France, and claimed his throne. She frequently accompanied him to Scotland, France, and Flanders. She also acted as regent in 1346 when Edward was away from his kingdom at the time of a Scottish invasion, and appeared on horseback to rally the English army to victory. Philippa’s popularity with the people due to her compassion helped maintain peace in England throughout Edward’s reign.

Ippolita Maria Sforza: The Renaissance Princess Who Linked Milan and Naples

Paperback – 3 December 2019 (US) & 28 February 2020 (UK)

In April 1455, ten-year-old Ippolita Maria Sforza, a daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Milan, was betrothed to the seven-year-old crown prince of the Kingdom of Naples as a symbol of peace and reconciliation between the two rival states. This first full-scale biography of Ippolita Maria follows her life as it unfolds at the rival courts of Milan and Naples amid a cast of characters whose political intrigues too often provoked assassinations, insurrections, and wars. She was conscious of her duty to preserve peace despite the strains created by her husband’s arrogance, her father-in-law’s duplicity, and her Milanese brothers’ contentiousness. The duchess’ intelligence and charm calmed the habitual discord between her families, and in time, her diplomatic savvy and her great friendship with Lorenzo de’ Medici of Florence made her a key player in the volatile politics of the peninsula for almost 20 years.
Drawing on her letters and contemporary chronicles, memoirs, and texts, this biography offers a rare look into the private life of a Renaissance woman who attempted to preserve a sense of self while coping with a tempestuous marriage, dutifully giving birth to three children, and supervising a large household under trying political circumstances.

Japan’s Imperial House in the Postwar Era, 1945–2019 (Harvard East Asian Monographs)

Hardcover and Paperback – 18 February 2020 (US) & 28 April 2020 (UK)

With the ascension of a new emperor and the dawn of the Reiwa Era, Kenneth J. Ruoff has expanded upon and updated The People’s Emperor, his study of the monarchy’s role as a political, societal, and cultural institution in contemporary Japan. Many Japanese continue to define the nation’s identity through the imperial house, making it a window into Japan’s postwar history.

Ruoff begins by examining the reform of the monarchy during the US occupation and then turns to its evolution since the Japanese regained the power to shape it. To understand the monarchy’s function in contemporary Japan, the author analyzes issues such as the role of individual emperors in shaping the institution, the intersection of the monarchy with politics, the emperor’s and the nation’s responsibility for the war, nationalistic movements in support of the monarchy, and the remaking of the once-sacrosanct throne into a “people’s imperial house” embedded in the postwar culture of democracy. Finally, Ruoff examines recent developments, including the abdication of Emperor Akihito and the heir crisis, which have brought to the forefront the fragility of the imperial line under the current legal system, leading to calls for reform.

Forbidden Wife: The Life and Trials of Lady Augusta Murray

Hardcover – 3 February 2020 (UK)

Kindle Edition – 3 February 2020 (US)

On the night of 4 April 1793, two lovers were preparing to compel a cleric to perform a secret ceremony. The wedding of the sixth son of King George III to the daughter of the Earl of Dunmore would not only be concealed – it would also be illegal.
Lady Augusta Murray had known Prince Augustus Frederick for only three months but they had already fallen deeply in love and were desperate to be married. However, the Royal Marriages Act forbade such a union without the King’s permission and going ahead with the ceremony would change Augusta’s life forever. From a beautiful socialite she became a social pariah; her children were declared illegitimate and her family was scorned.

In Forbidden Wife Julia Abel Smith uses material from the Royal Archives and the Dunmore family papers to create a dramatic biography set in the reigns of Kings George III and IV against the background of the American and French Revolutions.

The Last Queen: Elizabeth II’s Seventy-Year Battle to Save the Monarchy 

Kindle Edition – 11 February 2020 (UK) & US)

In 2020, the Queen finally appears to be at ease in the modern world, helped by the new generation of Windsors, while – ironically – the campaign for Brexit encourages in the British people a backward yearning for a glorious age that never really existed. But here, through Clive Irving’s unique insight, we find a more fragile institution, whose extraordinarily dutiful matriarch has managed to persevere by making a Faustian pact with the media.

The Last Queen is not a conventional biography, and is therefore not limited by the traditions of that genre. It follows Elizabeth and her family’s struggle to survive in the face of unprecedented changes in attitudes towards the royal family with the critical eye of an investigative reporter who is present and involved.

Lust, Lies and Monarchy: The Secrets Behind Britain’s Royal Portraits

Paperback – 3 February 2020 (US)

People have long been fascinated by the stories behind royal portraits. This volume takes readers inside royal families by way of great paintings, like Holbein’s Henry VIII, van Dyck’s Charles I, Millais’ The Princes in the Tower, Freud’s Elizabeth II, and more. Featuring incredible, little known stories of the royals and illustrates, this beautiful collection is illustrated with color paintings, photos, family trees and Royal London walking tours with maps.

Queen Victoria and The Romanovs: Sixty Years of Mutual Distrust

Hardcover – 15 February 2020 (UK) & 1 May 2020 (US)

Despite their frequent visits to England, Queen Victoria never quite trusted the Romanovs. In her letters she referred to horrid Russia and was adamant that she did not wish her granddaughters to marry into that barbaric country. Russia I could not wish for any of you, she said. She distrusted Tsar Nicholas I but as a young woman she was bowled over by his son, the future Alexander II, although there could be no question of a marriage. Political questions loomed large and the Crimean War did nothing to improve relations.

This distrust started with the story of the Queen s Aunt Julie , Princess Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and her disastrous Russian marriage. Starting with this marital catastrophe, Romanov expert Coryne Hall traces sixty years of family feuding that include outright war, inter-marriages, assassination, and the Great Game in Afghanistan, when Alexander III called Victoria a pampered, sentimental, selfish old woman . In the fateful year of 1894, Victoria must come to terms with the fact that her granddaughter has become Nicholas II s wife, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Eventually, distrust of the German Kaiser brings Victoria and the Tsar closer together.

Permission has kindly been granted by the Royal Archives at Windsor to use extracts from Queen Victoria’s journals to tell this fascinating story of family relations played out on the world stage.

Plantagenet Princesses: The Daughters of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II

Hardcover – 28 February 2020 (UK) & 2 June 2020 (US)

The names of few medieval monarchs and their queens are better known than Eleanor of Aquitaine, uniquely queen of France and queen of England, and her second husband Henry II. Although academically labelled medieval’, their era was the violent transition from the Dark Ages, when countries’ borders were defined with fire and sword. Henry grabbed the English throne thanks largely to Eleanor’s dowry because she owned one third of France. Their daughters also lived extraordinary lives. If princes fought for their succession to crowns, the princesses were traded – usually by their mothers – to strangers for political power without the bloodshed. Years before what would today be marriageable age, royal girls were despatched to countries whose speech was unknown to them and there became the property of unknown men; their duty the bearing of sons to continue a dynasty and daughters who would be traded in their turn. Some became literal prisoners of their spouses; others outwitted would-be rapists and the Church to seize the reins of power when their husbands died. Eleanor’s daughters Marie and Alix were abandoned in Paris when she divorced Louis VII of France. By Henry II, she bore Matilda, Alienor and Joanna. Between them, these extraordinary women and their daughters knew the extremes of power and pain. Joanna was imprisoned by William II of Sicily and worse treated by her brutal second husband in Toulouse. If Eleanor was libelled as a whore, Alienor’s descendants include two saints, Louis of France and Fernando of Spain. And then there were the illegitimate daughters, whose lives read like novels…

About Moniek Bloks 2747 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.