Monday, February 27, 2017

Game of Crowns - Christopher Andersen

Game of Crowns
Title: Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne
Author: Christopher Andersen
Publication Date: 4/19/16
Pages: 352
Genre: Biography / Royals / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I saw it on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and knew I had to read it.
Date Completed: 2/6/17

Summary: A look into the lives of the three women who lead the British royal family.

What I Thought: Oh hey, guys. Just me here with yet another book about the British royals. I can't stop. It's an addiction. 

Inevitably, they aren't all great. This one, in particular, fell a little too far toward gossip-y for me. Overall, though, it was still an interesting book and a unique approach I had not seen before. I've read a lot about Queen Elizabeth II and, of course, the Duchess of Cambridge. However, I really did not know that much about Camilla and her history.

Andersen, who I discovered in his notes at the end of the book is father to acclaimed author Kate Andersen Brower, opens his book with speculation about the death of Queen Elizabeth and what will follow. He casts the whole chapter as though he were writing history. He imagines how the news travels amongst the royals and out into the world. He imagines the coronation of King Charles and the changes which may follow under his reign. I liked reading his speculation and it was certainly interesting, but it felt far from academic. And, because he never changes his tone when he moves on to talking about real history, someone who knows less about the British royal family (BRF) may well walk away from the book uncertain as to where his speculations begin and end. I would have prefer him to couch his ideas in a more academic tone. 

Of course, the book is not particularly academic. As mentioned above, his tone was much more gossip-y than I expected. He covers issues surrounding these women that few historians or serious biographers will touch due to lack of proof (i.e. marital affairs). This this premise, I had really hoped to see a more in-depth analysis of the role these women play, how they differ from one another, and the impact they are having on the BRF and culture in general. Instead, this felt more biographically and even salacious at times. Not uninteresting, just not what I expected.

Andersen also devoted just as much time to the late Diana, Princess of Wales as he did to any of the three women in the title. I totally understand why he did that. After all, her impact on the BRF and on each of these three women is marked. However, he spent so much time on her that I wondered if she just shouldn't have been included in the title as well. 

I will say, I certainly came away from this book with a bad taste in my mouth for Prince Charles. I had no idea he slept around as much as he did both in his youth and throughout his life. Andersen clearly is not a fan of the heir to the throne, so I tried to take everything he said with a grain of salt. Surprisingly, I came away not feeling any better or worse about Camilla as a person. She has been so vilified already that nothing negative surprised me and the positive felt in line with the grandmotherly figure she seems to have become in her new life as a royal. 

Overall, there was actually very little about Kate. Much less than there was about Diana. He covered her relationship with William briefly, but really did little more than touch on the highlights (and lowlights) of her life in the public eye. I get that there isn't much to really say about her yet. She is only in her young 30s and has yet to really assume the duties of a full-time royal. She has a long way to go to grow into her role and that's fine for now as there are still two generations ahead of her and William. Still, she's a bright star in the BRF so it makes sense to have wanted to give her equal billing in the title even if she was not getting it in the text of the book.

I feel like I'm grousing a bit over this one. I know I shouldn't be so particular about what I read about the BRF when I so voraciously consume nearly any content about them. Still, I found myself caught off guard by what this book was in actuality. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely
If You Liked This, Try: At Home with the Queen / Kate The Royal We

A Reduced Review: An interesting look into the lives of these women, but I had hoped for more concrete analysis and less gossip.

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