Kelly's Reviews > Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge

Sex with Kings by Eleanor Herman
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's review
Dec 31, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: history, romantical, owned

The author of this book is much less like a historian than she is like a gossipy old grandma from a bygone stuck-in-its-ways-and-ideas generation, telling you tales by the fireside. She's judgmental, melodramatic, partial (she's got a huge crush on the French) and very silly... but also delightfully vicious, gleefully arch, and has some of the best stories ever. Approach the book with that image in mind, and you'll have a blast.

Full of as much sex, intrigue, backstabbing, catcalling, fabulous one-liners, disaster and tragedy as one could possibly wish for, this is a breeze of a book that I blew through in two days. It's the sort of addictive trash that you just can't stop reading. It is organized by theme, around a sort of timeline of life-attracting the king, keeping the king, profiting from the king, royal bastards, what happened to them after the king died, etc. It really focuses on about 10 women or so (with random appearances and vignettes by several others) from the 16th through the 20th century. Some of the stories and anecdotes are very familiar-anyone with a passing interest in European royalty has heard some of these- more were entirely new to me. I definitely laughed out loud on many occasions. It's hard not to give most of these women credit, as awful as some of them were, for their sheer, unmitigated balls in facing down the world and getting through it however they could. Nell Gwyn and Gabrielle d'Estrees emerged as my clear favorites, can't wait to find biographies of those two ladies.

Fun, light entertainment for a weekend afternoon.
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