Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ARC Review: Princesses Behaving Badly

Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
3/5 stars
Quirk Books, 2013
278 pages
Non-Fiction History
Scheduled to release November 19

Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I have frequently talked about my love of princesses and fairy tales so I loved the hook for this book, which references real-life princesses and how their lives don't really fit that mold for whatever reason, often because of their excesses and/or insanity.

Something I appreciated was reading about princess outside of Europe; yes, we look at a few princesses from Asia, Africa and even the Americas though most are based in various Europe countries. However the definition of princess and real is very flexible. Several of these women merely styled themselves as princess without the ancestry one would expect and several of the stories are most probably from mythology and not well grounded in fact. I thought they were fascinating nonetheless but go against what the very title of this book promises.

In general, I found the tone of this book very gossipy, which quite frankly works for me as gossip sites are some of my favorite pleasure reading (my fave for the past four or so years is Lainey Gossip). It was disconcerting though as I'm used to such figures being treated with a bit more reverence. But this book relishes in their profligate ways and sexual excesses. It started to feel overwhelming especially as I read this book in about one day. I was personally shocked at some of what was described-a good reminder that it is not just our era where we see unbelievable wealth and reckless spending.

Probably the most interesting tidbit for me was the examination of Juana the Mad, who I thought was a sad byproduct of royalty's tendency toward inbreeding. However this author suggests that she was framed as mad so the men in her life could rule in her stead. I'm embarrassed that I never considered this possibility and merely accepted this story spoonfed to me.

Overall: A rollicking ride through history looking at some overlooked or even forgotten women who made their mark on history.

*A note: I read an e-ARC that was sorely in need of some editing; I assume the finished copy will be corrected because there were some terrible errors. The finished copy should also contain a bibliography, which was sadly missing here as I would like to explore some of these figures through a more scholarly lens.

12 comments:

  1. I'm not sure what to think about this book. I'm a fairytale lover like you, but I don't really care for most non-fiction books.. The cover and title are pretty though :D

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    1. I had hoped for more fairy tale fun so I wouldn't necessarily recommend this for you. I think I'd advise you to just stick with the fairy tales.

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  2. This sounds pretty interesting though I do wish that it had only included real princesses. I like the gossipy tone of popular historical biographies like Alison Weir's so I think I'd enjoy this. I have heard that said about Juana the Mad before and it wouldn't surprise me if it was true given people's treatment of her nieces as rulers of England. Elizabeth I was smart about it and knew how to use their preconceived notions of her as a female to her favor.

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    1. I don't know how much there would have ended up being if they had refined it to only real-life princesses. The Juana the Mad section was probably the most interesting to me-I appreciated its new perspective.

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  3. I'm supposed to be getting a physical copy of this soon - I'll have to see whether there are errors in my copy.

    I definitely expected this to be totally grounded in history; I'll have to see what I think of the balance when I read it.

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    1. I would be interested to see how the physical ARCs look-I was appalled by the errors in the e-version even though I'm used to a few from how many I've read.

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  4. Hmmmm…. sounds interesting. Sorry the execution was a little flawed :)
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. I adore the concept-just some flaws in the execution.

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  5. This sounds really interesting! It's too bad it wasn't executed a bit better. I'll have to look up reviews for the final edition and see if all the editing has been corrected.

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    1. I love the idea for it and I hope to read more books about actual princesses since I love the topic so much.

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  6. Replies
    1. Wasn't that point about Juana fascinating? I love learning something new!

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