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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,107 Ratings  ·  121 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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Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matt by: BAM The Bibliomaniac
Shelves: buddy-read
A prominent sub-theme that has become apparent during this biography binge would have to be the long reach of the English monarchy around Europe. It came up in a piece on George III's daughters, as well as a biography of Queen Victoria (a George III granddaughter), and now with Julia Gelardi's piece on five granddaughters of Queen Victoria who rose to prominence as consorts in various kingdoms. Gelardi offers a wonderful look into the lives of Princesses Alix (Russia), Maud (Norway), Sophie (Gre ...more
Emily Ann Meyer
May 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
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
Lolly's Library
A wonderful overview of the five women who managed to somehow survive the tumultuous years when the modern era didn't just break down Victorian ideals and mores, but smashed them completely to bits. Because the book is a story about these five women - Maud of Norway, Sophie of Greece, Alexandra of Russia, Marie of Romania, and Victoria Eugenie of Spain - by its very nature, it's more vague at times, lacking some of the more detailed examination which would come with a single-focus biography. How ...more
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
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
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-library
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.

Susan Liston
A lot of fascinating information in this book, but the story lines are mixed together..we jump from queen to queen to queen. The ladies were easy to keep track of in the beginning, when they are young, but as husbands and in-laws and children and grandchildren and maybe-lovers, etc. are thrown in and their lives became more and more complicated with war and uprisings and exiles it got to be a bit more confusing. (The ridiculous "simplified family tree" was a frustrating waste of time, each queen ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A highly readable non fiction history. Follows the lives of five extraordinary and rather tragic women. Princesses who, although living in glittering palaces, experienced much sorrow in their personal lives and went through excruciating political turmoil. I enjoyed reading about all five women at the same time in order to reference how they all related to each other. However, I'm also interested in reading individual biographies for even greater detail. Other things I found intriguing were how i ...more
Rebecca Huston
Aug 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keepers, royals
A look at five granddaughters of Queen Victoria who would become consorts of five monarchs in Europe, just before the First World War. Each story is tragic is some way, happy in others, and none of them at all dull. Royalty fans will eat this one up.

For a more complete review, please go here:
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun way to read about European royals, as they related to each other. I really liked this book, and learned a lot about several rulers I was totally uninformed about.
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating History

This well researched history about five of Queen Victoria’s many grandchildren is worth the time because of the excellent understanding it offers of Europe and Russia politics in pre, during and post WWI times. These five remarkable young women have many challenges facing them in their marriages and then lives, not the least of which is being matched to men for political and monarchy continuation reasons, not love. Clearly, being a Princess -or a Queen - is not all it’s cracke
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This is a very sympathetic look at all 5 granddaughters and their lives during a very turbulent time. It contains background politics that set the stage in a very natural way. The geneological chart in the front is good, but I found this to be better. (scroll toward the bottom)

What is amazing is that the eldest granddaughter Maud was born in 1869 and the youngest Victoria Eugenie died in 1969.

You might also like Nancy Goldstones Four Queens: The Provence
Linda Finlayson
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading biographies is always the best way to learn history in my opinion. Learning 20th century European history through the eyes of some who lived it made it all hang together for me. Granted these eyes were 'from the top', rather than the average person, but these women in their 'exalted' position could see the bigger picture. Their stories are show both their strengths and weaknesses, and some ended quite sadly. They were strong women doing their best in tumultuous times.
Arianna Vargas
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Gelardi is one of my absolute FAVORITE biographers! This book is single handedly responsible for my newest historical obsession- 19th century Victorian royalty- lol. The only thing that can tear me away from my Tudor Fiction obsession.
Gonzaga Escauriaza
Five very interesting lives and the author takes not just the facts that occurred during their lives, but also the human aspects of their lives.

Big variety of situations and of characters in this five families.

Worthwhile reading.
Maryellen Walter
As someone else stated, it was easy to track the granddaughters in the beginning but then it got very confusing. It seemed everyone had Victoria in their name somewhere or Alexandra. It's almost impossible to keep them straight plus sometimes the author would refer to them by their nicknames; i.e. Mossy, Missy, etc. And the book does jump back and forth quite a bit. Lots of history which was interesting but again so difficult to track who was which queen...
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia-ussr
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
May 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
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
Aug 01, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Emily Von pfahl
Overall, I found that the author did a good job of interweaving the narrative of these royal cousins, but at times it was difficult to follow the narrative because of the way she switched back and forth from their given names, to their pet names, or to their adopted names. I did feel that Maud got short changed during the narrative, primarily because she lived in a stable country and had a son and husband who weren't jerks. I tended to skim the sections on Alexandra as her story is so well known ...more
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Robert Nesbitt
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For someone who asumes that the reader knows a lot about the characthers, which in my case, I do, this need some data check up for there are several mistakes, it was very poorly written, it's a mix between a dull 19th century novelette and a teenager high school project, she also takes a side for Alix of Hesse which makes that chapter ever more boring than it was, in spite of what you think she was an awful ruler and make her contribution to the Russian Empire's downfall, altogether, read some s ...more
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Mad about Royal H...: Born to Rule by Julia P. Gelardi 3 7 Oct 28, 2015 03:23AM  
2017 Reading Chal...: Born to Rule 2 20 Jan 07, 2015 04:52PM  
European Royalty: Born to Rule, Overall 6 45 Nov 06, 2013 03:22PM  
European Royalty: Born to Rule, Part One 5 28 Oct 02, 2013 10:43AM  
European Royalty: Born to Rule, Part Two 1 12 Sep 19, 2013 07:40AM  
European Royalty: Born to Rule, Part Three 1 8 Sep 19, 2013 07:39AM  
European Royalty: Born to Rule, Part Four 1 7 Sep 19, 2013 07:38AM  
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