Let me preface this by noting that I bought this in the Amazon Kindle edition (so maybe some of the Cons are different in the paper version), for $2.9Let me preface this by noting that I bought this in the Amazon Kindle edition (so maybe some of the Cons are different in the paper version), for $2.99 (so it was definitely worth what I paid), and I'm a professional writer/editor (so I may be a bit harsh in terms of editing review).
Overall, I was impressed with the book as a whole, and particularly the level of research and detail. As another reviewer mentioned, over here in the States, we rarely hear about King George III past the obligatory study of the American Revolution in elementary school. I consider myself rather better schooled in the subject in that I saw "The Madness of King George" via Netflix some years ago. Well if we hardly hear about King George III, we *never* hear about Queen Charlotte and their children. Laura Purcell has done a fine job in introducing the reader to Charlotte and the brood of 13 (13!) surviving children. While overall Charlotte struck me as an ice-cold b****, Purcell has also done a masterful job of giving us just enough insight into the other sides of her character to prevent us from hating her outright, even leading us to sympathize with her and - dare I say it? - ache for her. We get very little perspective from the men in the story; all of the story seems to be through the eyes of Queen Charlotte, Princess Royal (also Charlotte, after her mother, but called Royal so as to avoid confusion), and Princess Sophia. I might have liked some perspective from either the other daughters or even the sons, but it was a respectable writer's choice. So in sum-up, I'm very impressed with her restraint in painting her historical characters in shades of gray when it would have been easy to cast them in black and white, and with her immersion of the reader in the time, events, and details of the period.
Where the book loses a star is in the pacing and the narration switching. She did at least dedicate each chapter/sub-chapter/section to its own narrator, but it was sometimes jarring to switch back and forth. Also jarring was, as I said, the pacing. Sometimes only one incident would dedicated to an entire year, making the time fly by; some years were full-to-bursting with incidents, making them seem almost to drag; and sometimes she skipped years at a time. Being little familiar with the time period in the monarchy (I've generally lost interest after Elizabeth I), I can't be sure whether the events were really that spaced out; but since she admits to taking a little bit of license with the sequencing, I think she could have been a little freer in terms of balancing the flow.
While I'm thinking about it, I might have liked to see something - anything - that let the reader believe that Charlotte genuinely loved any of her children. She claims to, periodically, and she seems to want to keep them around her, but I don't understand why, since she appears to have such distaste and displeasure in them. Even the ones she seems to consider her favorites are treated with contempt. Was it just her way? Was it of the times? Or were there times in between the instances that caused her to harden that she was actually tender and gentle toward, well, any of them? Even just some insight into the mentality, what Charlotte might have been thinking in spite of her outward actions and appearances. Purcell seems to try, in explaining the reticence to let the daughters marry, but I don't think she goes far enough.
Lastly, who edited this thing? This may be where the Kindle version comes into play, but there were dropped letters (particularly initial caps) and a lot of "alright" (which is WRONG; it's "all right") and everything was "towards" and "forwards," etc. (it's "toward," "forward," "backward," etc.)
In spite of my lengthy complaining paragraph, I really did enjoy the book, and was driven to keep reading, keep reading, keep reading, and not put it down. I blew through it in a couple of days. I look forward to more from Laura Purcell, I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in historical fiction, I feel like I learned something, and I will be seeking out more from the period. ...more