Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book Review: 'Princesses Behaving Badly' by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

✰✰½ Forget the silk party dresses, glass slippers, royal carriages, banquets, and Prince Charming. The stories of these princesses tell it like it was back in the day. This book is divided into seven sections of very different kinds of women including princesses who were warriors, usurpers, schemers, survivors, partiers, floozies, and madwomen. Each section features three to five short chapters about specific princesses. The short biographies are chock full of tantalizing tidbits of royal lives gone wrong. Additionally, there are shorter sections featuring mini biographies of other lesser known princesses. Featured princesses include Hatshepsut, Catherine Radziwill, Lucrezia Borgia, Caraboo, Clara Ward, and Pauline Bonaparte to name just a few.

The Bottom Line: On the positive side the author made a good effort to include princesses from many cultures and countries instead of just the European princesses. The women hail from China, Egypt, India, and Mexico as well as Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, and many more places. There's even a Native American princess.

On the negative side, the author uses a writing style that was much too casual and flippant for me. For example, Prince Camillo Borghese is described as "dumb as mittens on a cat." (p. 224) Upon reading about each princesses' foibles and follies, I wasn't entirely convinced that all of them were "bad." Perhaps some were simply responding in self defense to their unpleasant situations.

Princesses Behaving Badly is a quick read. However, while the tone is humorous, at times it is just too chatty. This is an optional purchase that might appeal to teens. Note: I did not see the introduction, bibliography, or index in the advance reading copy I received for the purpose of reviewing. 

Details: Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriquez McRobbie. Hardcover published by Quirk Books in 2013. 288 p. ISBN: 978-159474-644-4 Note: I received a copy from Quirk Books in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible by the Early Reviewer program at LibraryThing.