Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kate - Claudia Joseph

Title: Kate: The Making of a Princess
Author: Claudia Joseph
Publication Date: 2/15/11
Pages: 272
How I Found It: Duh. The Kate obsession continues.
Date Completed: 7/16/15

Summary: Written before the epic wedding, Joseph's work focuses on Kate's path to becoming a princess. She spends the first half of the book exploring Kate's ancestry with brief comparisons to what the royal family looked like and was experiencing at the same. Then, Joseph delves into Kate's life and her royal romance.

What I Thought: My obsession with royals, particularly of the English variety, particularly of the Kate Middleton variety, is no secret. It's well documented here on the blog. And if you all knew me in real life, well, you would see my Duchess of Cambridge calendar in my office and the fact that I own several dresses in common with HRH.

In spite of my love for the woman, I have been extremely hesitant to read any biographies about her. Let's be realistic: she hasn't actually done a whole lot worth having a biography written about her - at least not yet. In general, I am not a fan of biographies of young people who still, presumably, have so much of their life still ahead of them. It makes me feel like the author is jumping the gun just to cash in on the person's popularity. Case in point: this book.

It's well timed release, just two months before the royal wedding, clearly counted on the public interest in Kate at the time. Sure, it's interesting to know more about her ancestry and, for those who didn't follow the royal romance, there is plenty here which may be interesting. However, the whole thing felt far too sugar-coated and admiring to me. And this is me we're talking about!

As soon as Joseph moved past the (pretty boring) section on Kate's ancestry and into the life of the royal bride, things became saccharine. Joseph paints Middleton as a near saint, one who only drinks socially, never to excess, and who has exuded grace and charm practically since birth. There are literally multiple lines discussing her preference to sip a single glass of wine throughout the evening rather than indulge in heavy drinking. Joseph, have you not really looked at some of those post-clubbing pictures from Will and Kate's dating years?? The whole thing has to be palace PR's dream. Not a single negative word or story about Will's partner. Instead, it's all flattering and picturesque. If you read only this book, you would assume Kate came from a custom mold made exactly for her life and that she has never once stepped out of line, not even before connecting with William. 

As much as I adore the woman, this is complete crap.

She is, after all, human. I have no doubt that she has faced very real fears and heart breaks over the course of her relationship with Will, much less her whole life. No one goes through life without those things. Certainly, she has lived a life of privilege, now more than ever, but that does not exempt her from experiencing the emotional highs and lows of life as a human being. There must have been moments of sheer terror as she took steps further and further into the royal family. And, since joining their ranks, she has to have days where she just wants to put her hair up, throw on some sweats, forget the makeup, and take her kids to the zoo without worrying about cell phone photographers or the likelihood that the concession stand worker who took her order for a funnel cake (another pleasure I doubt she enjoys these days) will call a tabloid and tell all about her fattening indulgence. Painting her as Saint Kate does her no favors. Sure, it contributes to the idyllic image we all like for our princesses, but we cannot forget they are real. Real fears. Real passions. Real disappointments. Real joys. Real family issues. Real people.

One thing I will say for Joseph's book is this: I learned a lot about William. I came away really impressed by all he has done to gain experience and prepare himself for his future role. Has he made mistakes or done some dumb things over the years? Sure. But he has (and continues to) worked hard to prove himself worthy of his destiny. It's obviously important to him to gain a balanced view of the world and to work in many different fields. I greatly respect that and think it has and will continue to ingratiate him with the British people. It may even prove to be the key to keeping the monarchy around for a while longer. 

Despite its obvious bias slant and overly optimistic view of these public figures, I still did enjoy Joseph's book to an extent. It was, after all, still about Kate. However, I felt I gathered more perspective of Kate's probable experience from the fictional take in The Royal We than in this "non-fiction" biography. Seriously - this book reminded me tons of the unauthorized Bex bio depicted there and that comparison had me laughing quite often. If you haven't read The Royal We yet, you really have to. It was a delight.

In the end, I should have trusted my instinct and steered clear of Kate biographies. I felt Joseph's portrayal rings with as much truth as the trashiest tabloids do on the other end of the spectrum. The real woman exists, I'm sure, somewhere in the middle. 

If only we could be best friends and I could confirm that....

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Nope
If You Liked This Try: The Royal We / Shadows of a Princess / Her Majesty

A Reduced Review: Saccharine and practically giddy, this biography seemed more of a fan's ravings than a look at the real person and life behind the public eye; but, it was still about Kate, so I can't hate it completely. 

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