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Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  1,534 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Julia Gelardi's Born to Rule is an historical tour de force that weaves together the powerful and moving stories of the five royal granddaughters of Queen Victoria. These five women were all married to reigning European monarchs during the early part of the 20th century, and it was their reaction to the First World War that shaped the fate of a continent and the future of ...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by St. Martin's Press (first published March 19th 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emily Ann Meyer
I enjoyed this book - it was a fascinating glimpse at the intertwined and separate lives of these five women.

At times, however, I was disappointed at how much had been glossed over. Some of that, I grant, was necessary as discussing the complete lives of five women in a reasonable-sized book could not have been done in any great detail.

It could have, however, been improved in a few ways

1 - put a complete rather than simplified family tree - when the author was referring to other cousins, uncles
...more
Jessica
Much more scholarly than I would have liked. One of the problems I had with this book is that the author approaches it almost with the assumption that the reader is going to be a 3rd year European history major who has a lot of “pre” knowledge of this subject. An example of this is almost each person had multiple names they were known by, officially, personally, intimately, etc. She refers to a person flipping flopping between all their names indiscriminately and with almost no explanation so th ...more
Melissa
I've been vascillating between a two-star and a three-star rating....I finally went with the three star just on the strength of the subject matter but the way it's laid out is confusing and the writing style less-than-stellar (every section of the book is cliff-hangered with some form of "shattering" as in earth-shattering or a life was shattered or peace was shattered, etc.).

While I liked the premise, and each of the five women are amazing in their own right, the book felt sloppy. In the "Drama
...more
Louise
I was taken in right away by the easy storytelling style of the author. This is a personal bio of the 5 granddaughters, so major historical events are covered only as they effect the lives of the queens. This may be as intimate a glimpse as we can get of these royal women. Queen Victoria, mentor and role model to the queens, looms in the background.

Some here felt it would be better to cover each queen separately, but I liked the chronological presentation. Because events of WWI interlocked, with
...more
Irene
Born to Rule is about the stories of five of Queen Victoria's granddaughters who all grew up to become Queens in their own right; the relationship they had with their grandmother and how her influence affected them in the development of their individual characters and the subsequent effects it had on their married lifes and role of Queen.

Queens Maud of Norway, Sophie of Greece, Marie of Romania, and Victoria Eugenie (Ena) of Spain and the Tsarina Alexandra all come across with a strength of cha
...more
Linda
I feel like I've just finished a course in European History running from the Victorian Age to modern times. Author Julia P. Gelardi is thorough and it's obvious a lot of research went into this project. She traces the lineage of five of Queen Victoria's many grandchildren (the Queen and Prince Albert had nine children ensuring a huge next generation). Maud, Alix, Marie, Ena and Sophie were all fated to follow their grandmother's teachings as they all married into ruling families around Europe.

A
...more
Natalie
"Queen Victoria, one of our more frumpy queens. They're all frumpy, aren't they? Because it's a bad idea when cousins marry." - Eddie Izzard

Fascinating book; not just about royalty but a different, more personal view of early 20th century European history through the direct lives of these five women. I couldn't help but feel the author was trying to get me to sympathize with these five queens - I didn't. I did, however, get a very clear view of how exactly all European royalty is related in some
...more
Selina
It was kind of lopsided -- the author clearly preferred writing about Alexandra (it felt like half of the book was devoted to her) to Maud (who got 2 sentences every once in a while). The author's order of preference regarding these consorts goes Alexandra, Marie, Sophie, Ena (Victoria Eugenie) and then in last place Maud. Poor Maud. At least Norway seems to like her.

The book itself is interesting and compelling. I enjoyed it and learned a lot about European history that my public school educat
...more
Erin
Taking a break from fiction, I decided to take on this non-fiction/biography on the reigning granddaughters of Queen Victoria. This book was okay...it had a few problems. First, the author needed to decided on a style. It may have been better for her to focus on each granddaughter's story individually instead of having them linked. Granted, their lives were tangled up so it would have been difficult. The weaving of the stories is very sloppy. Time and relatives get easily confused. In fact, if y ...more
Kim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Starling
At this point, on page 11, I'm giving this book 2 stars. The writer writes well, so I'm going to try to continue reading, but at this point I ought to know who all 5 of these women were, and I don't have a clue.

This is strange because I do know quite a bit about Queen Victoria and even some things about her children. I've just finished a biography of her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice. One of these Queens is Princess Beatrice's daughter. The thing is she is the only one that I can name, na
...more
Robert Nesbitt
This was a book that covered the lives of five of Quenn Vicoria's granddaughters that became queens throughout the continent at the end of the 19th century. They are Maude of Norway, Ena of Spain, Alexandra of Russia, Marie of Romania and Sophie of Greece.

The book covers their lives from their parents and their growing up in the presents of their powerful grandmother. Then being married into the royal houses of Europe to solidify relations within the countries prior to World War I. How each of
...more
Debbie
ok here's the thing - last year I read George, Nicholas and Wilhelm - one if the best history/nonfiction I've read in a long time - 5 well deserved stars. This book -Born to Rule is about the EXACT same time period with the same players..
Born to Rule is about 5 granddaughters of Queen Victoria who become various Queens in Europe (Norway, Greece, Russia, Spain, and Romania.) All 5 women are cousins. And all 5 are cousins of George and Wilhelm of the other book. (George and Wilhelm are grandsons o
...more
Christie
This book is a well-researched, well-written introduction to the lives of five granddaughters of Queen Victoria that became reigning consorts: Tsarina Alexandra of Russia, Queen Marie of Romania, Queen Maud of Norway, Queen Sophie of Greece, and Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain. It follows these 5 women from childhoods spent at their beloved "Gangan's" side to their romances and royal marriages, births of children, ascension to thrones, and the tragedies and triumphs each woman experienced.

I enj
...more
Leonie
King Carol II of Romania. What an utter arsehole. He seems to have taken great delight in making the lives of his family hell! His poor, poor mother, for a start!

That is my main reaction on finishing Born to Rule. I was so utterly gripped by it that I couldn't put it down. I've developed a deep admiration for Queen Marie of Romania (the aforementioned Mother) for her tireless work in behalf of her adopted country. I can't help feel that Tsarina Alexandra of Russia was absolutely the wrong person
...more
Heidi
I began reading this book in 2010, but had to return it to the library when I no longer worked close enough to that library to borrow it. Recently I was able to borrow it once again. And I've finally finished it.

The author has an annoying habit of referring far too frequently to horrible things that will happen in the future. It's probably supposed to keep you interested, but I *was* interested already, and it just irked me.

That aside, the story was definitely interesting. I knew nothing of eith
...more
Dagmar1927
I did like this book, as it is the one that sparked my interest farther afield than just Queen Victoria and her children's lives. Now Maud, Sophie, Missy, Alix and Ena are all firmly welded in my mind as some of the most interesting of Queen Victoria's grandchildren (though, in my opinion, she didn't have any boring ones) and it was interesting to learn about the queen from their perspective, rather than from an official biographer who could only guess at their subject's personality.

If I have on
...more
Lynda
BORN TO RULE is an interesting read...a clear presentation of the interconnecting royal houses of Europe in an era when monarchy had influence and power. I found no errors in the research. The book helps to one understand the impact of Victoria's gene pool during the pre WW1 era...and recounts the often tragic results. Each granddaughter is presented as an individual, sent off to whatever royal marriage be deemed appropriate...we then watch as the granddaughter adapts and adjust to her new count ...more
Amanda
This was a very interesting read. Although I sometimes felt like I needed a spreadsheet to keep up with all of the family members, it was fascinating to see how closely related the ruling monarchies of the early 20th century were. All five of these women lived during World War I and saw the crumbling monarchies of Europe and Asia. They lived through a very trying time in human history. A great read for anyone who is interested in European history.
Christopher Morgan
A general understanding of Queen Victoria's family tree will help greatly in placing the charcters mentioned and linking them to other branches of the tree.It is largely biographical and at its conclusion made me eager to source works that study each of the five Queens in greater detail.

Although generally an easy read i did find that on occasions the author jumped from one biography to another and back again too quickly and frequently, leading to fleeting confusion.

An excellent introduction to
...more
Wealhtheow
The history of five of Queen Victoria's granddaughters. Alexandra, the shy and proud queen of Russia; Marie, the dramatic and empathic queen of Romania; Victoria Eugenie, who introduced hemophilia into the heirs of Spain; Maud, the bourgeoisie queen of Norway; and Sophie, who was so maligned as the sister to the hated Kaiser Wilhelm II that she lost her throne in Greece. The book doesn't have much focus, nor does it have a thesis; it's merely a collection of biographies that wouldn't stand alone ...more
Sarah
You know how in college you'll cram two or three things that are sort of related into a paper and because they're only sort of related you have to spend a lot of time and ink explaining and reassuring their relation (is this just me)? This is the book version of that. Ms. Gelardi gets a lot of mileage out of the phrase "Her world was shattered." The Queen of Spain bears a hemophiliac son and subsequently her husband cheats on her a lot with hookers? Her world was shattered. The Queen of Romania' ...more
Amy
This was a fascinating look into the lives of five nineteenth century queens. All raised by the values of their supreme grandmother, Queen Victoria, and you see how this effected their manner and how they were viewed by their subjects - negatively in the case of Alix and Ena and beloved in the case of Missy. Plenty of the usual suspects when reading any royal history; love, loss, betrayal, infidelity, murder and disaster. In some ways I was glad that the author didn't dive off and get too involv ...more
Cece
Interesting topic. Victoria bore nine children, and married them and her grandchildren carefully into many of the major ruling houses of Europe, creating strong alliances and painful rivalries at the same time. I looked forward to reading this.
However, this book needed a good editor. Her sources start with HM the Queen and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh-not too shabby-but at only 385 pages, this is a surface skim with questionable ventures into psychobabble. So much more could have been done with thi
...more
Marti
I would like to say that I loved this book, because I learned a lot of history from it. However, the writing was so sensational, the timelines so disordered, and the constant shifting of names and titles so confusing that I struggled through it. I will read more about this period of history, but I certainly won't seek out this author specially. Doing the time-warp was just too disorienting all the time.
Lynn
I enjoyed the book. I found the overview stories somewhat annoying because I would have liked more detail for some of the events. And though the title indicated it was the story of five reigning consorts, it felt to me that the tale of Queen Maud of Norway was glossed over, and only mentioned to make the number five rather than four. Perhaps that was simply because Norway was not thrown into the chaos of Russia, Greece, Romania, or Spain in the period following WWI, but it still seems as though ...more
Luci
The unifying factor in this work is the fact that these five women, all granddaughters of Queen Victoria, became queens of the countries they married into. Some chose their husbands for love, others for duty.

While this work is ambitious in the sense that Gelardi wants to discuss these women comparitively, it is somewhat hard to follow as she jumps from cousin to cousin within the chapters - with very little to unify other than a phrase to transition the reader over.

She spends very little time wi
...more
Kathryn Walters
Loved this book! Although it is a history book, it reads like a novel. The author liberally draws from personal correspondences of each of these five royal consorts, breathing life into these women and portraying them not as footnotes of history, but as the intriguing, complex, remarkable women they were. My favorite consorts to read about were Queen Marie of Romania (such a hipster!), Czarina Alexandra of Russia, and Queen Ena of Spain. I loved the crucial argument of this book - that their sha ...more
Emily
Ugh. I could not take this. I stopped when, about 40 pages after Alix/Alexandra/Alicky/Alice of Hesse/Russia got married to Tsar Nicholas, the author wrote "Immediately after she was joined in holy matrimony to Tsar Nicholas of Russia, Princess Alix of Hesse threw herself into absorbing Russian culture" or some crap like that. Seriously, write things IN ORDER. And while you are at it, this is NON FICTION. YOU DO NOT NEED TO WRITE LIKE YOUR SUBJECTS WOULD HAVE WRITTEN. YOU DO NOT LIVE IN THE VICT ...more
Kelly
This book has quite a bit of information and I really learned a lot. A reader will walk away with a better understanding of Queen Victoria's granddaughters, but also, European history - especially Romanian and Greek. In an era where society has really placed the individual needs before rank, the author does an impressive job of helping the reader understand the difficulties of moving away from all that they know - to a foreign land, religion, and culture and adapting. What works and fails as a q ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Born to Rule 2 18 Jan 07, 2015 04:52PM  
European Royalty: Born to Rule, Overall 6 41 Nov 06, 2013 03:22PM  
European Royalty: Born to Rule, Part One 5 27 Oct 02, 2013 10:43AM  
European Royalty: Born to Rule, Part Two 1 10 Sep 19, 2013 07:40AM  
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European Royalty: Born to Rule, Part Four 1 6 Sep 19, 2013 07:38AM  
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  • Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece
  • Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III
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  • The Lonely Empress: Elizabeth of Austria
  • Privilege and Scandal: The Remarkable Life of Harriet Spencer, Sister of Georgiana
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  • The Reluctant Empress
  • Queen Victoria's Children
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