Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
You’d never know it from the way things turned out, but decades before his granddaughter Victoria was born George III had hoped to break the Hanover cycle of rampant family dysfunction to live a private life filled with affection, harmony, and virtue that would be a model for his people and prove British royalty worthy of the great tasks assigned to it by Providence. George III’s dream of a loving and prudent family fell apart long before madness claimed his mind, and ending up with a profligate heir like Regency Prince turned King George IV is just part of the story.
While the focus is on George III, A Royal Experiment begins with the first Hanover king, George I, who was imported from Germany to keep the British royalty Protestant and who was unimaginably cruel to both his wife and his son George II, and the book ends with Queen Victoria, who in some ways was able to bring her grandfather’s moral vision to life. In addition to covering the personal lives of several generations of the royal family, the book is filled with thought-provoking information about and reflections on the culture and attitudes of the time, including the differentiated roles of the sexes (not a good time to be an intelligent independent woman) and the changing views of marriage (love or practical alliance? equal partnership or male ruled household?), family life, childhood (coddled or challenged?), madness, religion, childbirth practices (female midwives or medically trained male doctors?), and the duties and/or rights of royalty.
As an American it was fascinating to read about the various ways the American Revolution looked to and affected George III, British politicians, the general population of Britain, and the French. Without being overly sensational, A Royal Experiment fully engaged my emotions as well as my mind--it was horrifying to witness George III’s descent into madness and heartbreaking to read about the early death of George IV’s daughter Princess Charlotte, a high-spirited young woman who self-identified with Marianne of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Thoroughly researched, well organized, accessibly written, and unrelentingly interesting.