May 30, 2009

Book Review: "Indiscretions of the Queen: (#8 Georgian Saga) by Jean Plaidy



Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Fawcett (printed August 28, 1990)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0449217795
ISBN-13: 978-0449217795
The Burton Review Rating: 4 stars
Plaidy Reading Group June 1, 2009
Plaidy Reading Challenge #6 Completed

Synopsis:
"Princess Caroline of Brunswick was twenty-six years old and people were saying that she would never have married... But a grand destiny was about to unfold for the lively Princess, as bride of England's handsome Prince of Wales, soon to be Regent and later King George IV of England. Unfortunately, although Caroline fell madly in love with her charming royal spouse, his own affections had been stolen years before by the beautiful Maria Fitzherbert- to whom, it was whispered, he was actually secretly married.
So, as a lonely, unsophisticated outsider in her husband's dissipated circle, Caroline determines to live her own life. Her reckless search for affection infuriates the King, shocks the court, delights the common people, and culminates in one of the most famous court cases in history- in which the Queen of England stands trial, charged with adultery."

This is an interesting story of the 'injured' Queen of England, better known as Caroline of Brunswick. The novel opens up to Caroline as a young woman still at home with her family in Germany and her stubbornness and zest for childish antics shine through early on. Plaidy does a good job with her historical information and makes the most of the story with the characterization of the zany Caroline, although there were a few slow parts probably not due to Plaidy's writing precisely; history took its time being played out as we follow Caroline from her first love to her marriage to the highly acclaimed eligible bachelor the Prince of Wales, having a baby and then the silly antics throughout the remainder of her life.

Caroline was ill treated when she left Germany to become the wife of George the Prince of Wales, she did not listen to others when she was given advice on how to look more attractive or how to act; she was instantly disliked by her betrothed; probably also due to the fact he had a wife before her that he had still loved. The Prince did not marry his first wife under the sanctioning eyes of the courts, therefore the courts and England did not find it necessary to uphold the marriage George had made previously to the one woman he seemed to love, Maria Fitzherbert (she was also a Catholic which they did not approve of). George married his first-cousin Caroline purely to attempt to pay off some debts, and it proved disastrous twofold since he did not get any more money to actually line his own pockets with.

There were a few other royal figures that I enjoyed the back stories on, such as the Old King George III and his mean-spirited wife Queen Charlotte. They had 15 children together and 13 who lived to maturity, which seems astounding and tragically comical that they all seemed not fit to inherit the crown, therefore all eyes rested on the eccentric Caroline and the flamboyant Prince of Wales.

I found it most interesting that Caroline did not attempt to clean herself up to make herself more appealing, she clearly did not outwardly care how others thought of her. Through the course of the marriage though, she enjoyed the companionship of many other people, as people who disliked the Prince naturally gravitated towards Caroline. She seemed to live comfortably throughout the estrangement and finally towards the end of the novel the old King George III dies and the Prince becomes the next King George, but he is in no way about to accept the eccentric Caroline as England's Queen. He had placed spies in Caroline's midst so that they can report on all infidelities and unbecoming conduct and attempts to publicly defame her during a trial as he finally wants a divorce from her. The novel doesn't specifically state if they get divorced, it was a trial seeking to prove her adulterous. I did enjoy reading the story overall but since it seemed a little slow in some parts I give it 4 stars for making the Georgian era readable and the interesting way a myriad of characters were all brought into the story. This was my introduction to the Georgian Era and if possible I think it would be better for readers to start new to them eras with the beginning of a series and not something towards the end. Yet this was an endearing read of a unique woman and most unlike most of Plaidy's other heroines, so don't miss this one. Her antics are preposterous and make you shake your head, but leaves you smiling at Caroline's devil-may-care attitude as well.


I also posted two of the different covers of this book. The first one is the one I have, and honestly could not even imagine at any point where that was Caroline, and the second cover seems to depict her in a more honest light. She was probably large, as George IV was also.

Plaidy mentions Maria Fitzherbert, George's first wife in the story, and focuses on her a few times just enough to make me want to pick up another Plaidy novel "Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill" which focuses on the devout Maria and probably should have been read before this one. And the old king George III seemed a little odd in this novel, which is another life story that I will look forward to when reading "The Third George".

The original printing dates for the books in the Georgian Saga series are:

QUEEN IN WAITING (Robert Hale, 1967)

THE PRINCESS OF CELLE (Robert Hale, 1967)

THE PRINCE AND THE QUAKERESS (Robert Hale, 1968)

CAROLINE, THE QUEEN (Robert Hale, 1968)

THE THIRD GEORGE (Robert Hale, 1969)

PERDITA'S PRINCE (Robert Hale, 1969)

SWEET LASS OF RICHMOND HILL (Robert Hale, 1970)

INDISCRETIONS OF THE QUEEN (Robert Hale, 1970)

THE REGENT'S DAUGHTER (Robert Hale, 1971)

GODDESS OF THE GREEN ROOM (Robert Hale, 1971)