"Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds a way into his heart."
The Shadow of the Wind,
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Monday, February 16, 2015
Review-A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow
A Royal Experiment
The Private Life of King George III
by Janice Hadlow
Published by: Henry Holt & Company
November 18th, 2014
704 pages, 9780805096569
Most American's have an opinion of King George III as the king who overtaxed the colonies, a stubborn and unreasonable tyrant. If you believe that then, A Royal Experiment, by Janice Hadlow will intrigue you.
The American Revolutionary Era in American History stands out as one of my most favorite historical time periods. I have read and studied the history of this era in post-grad classes and it never fails to dominate my personal curiosity with an influence on my reading choices. Whether non-fiction history or historical fiction, I gravitate to this setting with un-satiability. I have read biographies, memoirs, primary documents, historical texts, articles and non-fiction books that focus on the American side of the Atlantic. However, this is the first book that I have read that takes place entirely on the other side of the ocean.
From the moment I read about this book, I planned to fit it into my TBR book list. I was then fortunate to receive a review copy by the publisher, Henry Holt and Company. Janice Hadlow has written an account of King George III and his wife Queen Charlotte that is not about the American Revolution, but instead depicts the man in his less familiar role as father and husband. Who would think King George !!! had any wish to provide a stable and loving home? He and Queen Charlotte had fifteen children. Charlotte was first pregnant at age eighteen. Remarkably, thirteen of their children survived infancy.
The king was determined to show that his commitment to fidelity and family life were paramount in his life. He planned to show his kingdom, a view far different from his ancestors. It was important to him that the world see him as a devoted father and faithful husband as well as king. It was to be, as Janice Hadlow so aptly titles her book, A Royal Experiment.
Hadlow's author's notes offered new insight for this reader. I learned that Queen Charlotte, was a highly intelligent woman who resented her twenty plus years of pregnancy.She was a woman out of sync with her generation. King George !!! believed "the personal was always inextricably linked to the political" (pg xvi) and his hope was that the public would want to mirror his private life. I assumed that if his label as a tyrant in the colonies was genuine, it would carry over to his personal life. (No spoilers.)
Janice Hadlow relied on countless 18th century letters, diaries and correspondence to gather the most honest and personal account of this royal monarchy. The letters available by friends and family during the 18th century of her research are abundant. I found it humorous that she discovered they were inclined to gossip and they loved to write. One wonders what the 18th century Facebook would be like?
A Royal Experiment is a richly detailed book about King George III and Queen Charlotte. Hadlow is able to provide a fascinating full dimension view of the American Colonist's former monarch. A compelling and highly recommended history.