If you're anything like me (and I would guess you are if you are a fan of Historical Tapestry) then you LOVE stories about royalty. What draws us towards them? Why do we ordinary people find their complicated and glittery lives so fascinating? Leslie Carroll, author of many fiction and nonfiction books focusing on royals at their best and worst, has a compelling idea for why this is. Read below for her guest post and make sure to continue on to the end for a chance to win her newest nonfiction work, Inglorious Royal Marriages, and to follow along with the rest of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour.
WHY I LOVE.... TO WRITE ABOUT DYSFUNCTIONAL ROYAL RELATIONSHIPS
By Leslie Carroll
INGLORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES is the 5th book in my nonfiction “royal” series for NAL. I received the contract to write the first title, ROYAL AFFAIRS, in 2007 when I had just become a newlywed. I’d been given only five months to research and write my maiden work of nonfiction—a nearly Herculean task—so I dedicated the book to my ever-so-patient husband for putting up with me while I spent our first half-year of marriage writing a book about adultery. Since then, I have researched and written about NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES, ROYAL PAINS, ROYAL ROMANCES, and now—INGLORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES, profiling a cross-section of unions over a five-hundred year period that for one reason or another were ignominious. The book’s subtitle is “a demi-millennium of unholy mismatrimony.”
I believe the lion’s share of my readers live in America where we have an utter, perhaps outsized, fascination with European royalty. They are larger than life; and as such, we find them both amusing and entertaining. And because we don’t have kings and queens and princes and dukes of our own, despite having fought and won our independence from a monarchy, we nevertheless seem to want to fill that void by creating our own royalty. We anoint pop stars, screen goddesses, professional ball players, and reality TV stars and they become “the king of rock and roll,” or “Queen Bey,” or a certain omnipresent family on reality television whose bootylicious princess (twice) sought to outdo the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Heaven help us, has America’s desperation to invent our own royalty gotten so out of control that we’ve gone from envying the Kennedys to endeavoring to keep up with the Kardashians?
Yet, when it comes to this manufactured “American royalty,” one reason we watch their every move, chart their material purchases, and voraciously read about them in the tabloids is because we want to glimpse our glittering idols as humans: we vicariously smile even as we commiserate with their bad hair days, their drug arrests, their DUIs, their messy divorces. We are almost more interested when they fall than when they soar. What is it about human nature that gloats just a little bit about the misfortunes of others?
I think it’s because we somehow need the reassurance that the very people we have placed on those pedestals are in fact, after all, like us—but with glitzier “stuff”—that they are, in fact, relatable.
No matter what century they were born in, I have always maintained that the royals I write about are just like you and me—except that they have better jewels, more expensive clothes, and bigger homes. Their glamour intrigues us at the outset, but what lies beneath the shiny veneers are hearts and minds and souls just like the rest of us ordinary folks. They have issues with their parents, or their children. Or they can’t have children, and desperately want them. In most cases, the royal stakes are pretty high, when it comes to producing an heir—but even those of us who are far less lofty still worry about whether the next generation will carry on the family business.
Then there are the timeless subjects of love and romance and marriage. Birthright comes with no guarantees; royalty doesn’t buy happiness. One can have all the castles and gemstones and servants in the world and still lack for love or respect. Royals endlessly fascinate me because it’s part and parcel of their official persona to seem so distant and remote, so unlike us at all—and yet of course they have foibles and flaws and failures as well as triumphs. Perhaps we are most intrigued by their missteps, because it does bring them down a bit to our level, even as we aspire to breathe their rarified air. Our appetite for the shenanigans of England’s handsome Prince Harry (and his great-aunt Princess Margaret in her day) are examples of what I’m referring to. There’s an interesting social dichotomy at work, here. At the same time we elevate royalty to a sort of godlike status, we also want to see them being human. We’re also fascinated with royals as being larger than life, and we all know that the bigger one is, the harder one falls. And when a king or queen or prince endures an insufferable marriage, whether it includes flying crockery or adultery, even if we ourselves have trouble in the connubial bliss department, perhaps there’s something about the human psyche—call it schadenfreude—that makes us sit back and think something along the lines of, “Wow, at least I don’t have it as bad as they do, for all their wealth and titles.”
When it comes to royal relationships, I have profiled the good, the bad, and the ugly. And in every book I wrote, the dozens of sovereigns and princesses and dukes and princes—and their lovers and spouses—were selected for inclusion because I empathized with at least one, if not both, of the people in the relationship. Because in the end, it’s not about how many castles one owns. Or thrones. Or gowns or crowns. It’s about the choices one makes. Who one loves. How one copes in times of adversity. It’s the common thread of humanity that shapes my themes as a nonfiction author writing about royal lives.
Thank you Leslie Carroll for this awesome post! I have to agree with you that one of the things that fascinates me so much about royalty is this idea that, underneath it all, they are just flesh and bone likes all of us and, therefore, imperfect and flawed.
So what do you say, readers, do you agree? Do you have any particular favorite royals and, if so, why are they your favorite? Let me know in the comments below and you're entered to win a copy of Inglorious Royal Marriages! Be sure to leave your email address (no email, no entry!) and for extra entries share this online and leave a separate comment with a link to where you shared. I'll pick a winner on September 10th and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their mailing address before I'll have to pick another winner. Good luck everyone!
About Inglorious Royal Marriages
Publication Date: September 2, 2014 NAL TradeGenre: History/Non-Fiction/Royalty
Formats: eBook, Paperback; 400p
Formats: eBook, Paperback; 400p
Why does it seem that the marriages of so many monarchs are often made in hell? And yet we can’t stop reading about them! To satisfy your schadenfreude, INGLORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES offers a panoply of the most spectacular mismatches in five hundred years of royal history….some of which are mentioned below.
When her monkish husband, England’s Lancastrian Henry VI, became completely catatonic, the unpopular French-born Margaret of Anjou led his army against the troops of their enemy, the Duke of York.
Margaret Tudor, her niece Mary I, and Catherine of Braganza were desperately in love with chronically unfaithful husbands—but at least they weren’t murdered by them, as were two of the Medici princesses.
King Charles II’s beautiful, high-spirited sister “Minette” wed Louis XIV’s younger brother, who wore more makeup and perfume than she did.
Compelled by her mother to wed her boring, jug-eared cousin Ferdinand, Marie of Roumania—a granddaughter of Queen Victoria—emerged as a heroine of World War I by using her prodigious personal charm to regain massive amounts of land during the peace talks at Versailles. Marie’s younger sister Victoria Melita wed two of her first-cousins: both marriages ultimately scandalized the courts of Europe.
Brimming with outrageous real-life stories of royal marriages gone wrong, this is an entertaining, unforgettable book of dubious matches doomed from the start.
About The Author
Leslie Carroll is the author of several works of historical nonfiction, women’s fiction, and, under the pen names Juliet Grey and Amanda Elyot, is a multipublished author of historical fiction. Her nonfiction titles include Royal Romances, Royal Pains, Royal Affairs, and Notorious Royal Marriages. She is also a classically trained professional actress with numerous portrayals of virgins, vixens, and villainesses to her credit, and is an award-winning audio book narrator.
A frequent commentator on royal romances and relationships, Leslie has been interviewed by numerous publications, including MSNBC.com, USA Today, the Australian Broadcasting Company, and NPR, and she was a featured royalty historian on CBS nightly news in London during the royal wedding coverage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. She also appears as an expert on the love lives of Queen Victoria, Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great, and Napoleon on the television series “The Secret Life of [fill in the name of famous figure]” for Canada’s History Channel. Leslie and her husband, Scott, divide their time between New York City and Washington, D.C.
For more information please visit Leslie’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Praise for Leslie Carroll's Royal Books
“An irresistible combination of People magazine and the History Channel.”—Chicago Tribune (5 Stars)
“For those who tackled Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, and can’t get enough of the scandal surrounding Henry VIII’s wives, [Notorious Royal Marriages is] the perfect companion book.”—NewYorker.com
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Inglorious Royal Marriages Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, September 1
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, September 2
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Scandalous Women
Wednesday, September 3
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, September 4
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, September 5
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Monday, September 8
Review & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, September 9
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Spotlight at Princess of Eboli
Wednesday, September 10
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Thursday, September 11
Review at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, September 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, September 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Wednesday, September 17
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Saturday, September 20
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Tuesday, September 23
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, September 24
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Review & Giveaway at To Read or Not to Read
Thursday, September 25
Review at Bookish
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Friday, September 26
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict