Monday, May 2, 2016

Grandmama of Europe: The Crowned Descendants of Queen Victoria by Theo Aronson (1973)

As you may have surmised from this blog, I love reading about Queen Victoria and her progeny.  This book did not disappoint.  This is my second time to read it, and while it's not the most riveting account I've ever read, it's strong and interesting (if you like this sort of book).  If you aren't exactly at tea with Queen Marie or Queen Sophie or Queen Maud, you certainly are watching them having tea through the window of the palace.  Their farts and burps aren't necessarily evident; the lack of warts in this sketch is probably what allowed Aronson such close access to the Royal Family (that, and likely his gayness, which according to other things I've read, the royal palaces are full of more queens than the Queen).  

One of my favorite royalties makes cameo appearances all the time in various books:  Princess Augusta of Cambridge, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.  Her letters to her niece, Queen Mary, are always peppery and sharp and absolute joy to read.  

Queen Marie Mignon of Yugoslavia was also a favorite.  It's pretty clear reading between the lines that she was a lesbian, but I suppose if Aronson came out and said thatin 1973, he would probably not have been given access to the royal archives for future books (in 1973, some of these people were still alive, or at the very least, just dead). 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Theo Aronson was a chronicler of royalty, and if you like reading about Queens and Kings of (almost) modern times, then you won't be disappointed by this book. Aronson does not make you feel as if you are sitting down to tea with Queen Maud or Queen Marie or Queen Sophie, which is disappointing at times; it's more like you are peering through a very clear window pane at them having tea or sitting with Grandmama learning how to be very English. Honestly, the book has some tedious points -- and the time line back and forth between kings and queens doesn't always make sense (those Danes and Swedes feel VERY tacked on) -- but overall, it's great fun. Royalty lovers won't be disappointed. 

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