Erin’s Bookshelf: Princesses Behaving Badly

I’m a pretty avid reader, but like everyone, I gravitate towards certain genres more than others. My usual go-tos are YA, romance, fantasy…and history. I’m pretty specific when it comes to my history. English history is probably my favorite (I’m obsessed with the Tudors), but I also love biographies. Especially, royal biographies.

Which brings us to today’s featured book on Erin’s Bookshelf:

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings, by Linda Rodriquez McRobbie

Here’s the book’s description from Amazon:

“You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, and you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But real princesses didn’t always get happy endings. Sure, plenty were graceful and benevolent leaders, but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power, and all of them had skeletons rattling in their majestic closets. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elisabeth of the Austro-Hungarian Empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev slaughtered her way to sainthood. And Princess Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield with her toddler strapped to her back.”

I came across this book by chance when I was wandering through Barnes and Noble one day. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and found myself searching the biography shelves in the history section of the store. This book caught my attention almost right away (a testament to why a good cover is necessary for any book hoping to sell), and after reading the description on the inside flap, I decided to give it a chance.

I adore this book.

It is one of the most engaging biographies I have ever read. It tells the stories of over thirty princesses, from “Warriors” and “Schemers” to “Partiers” and “Madwomen”. The stories themselves aren’t long, which makes this a great book for anyone who tends to shy away from biographies because of their length and sometimes painful detail.

However, it’s really the writing skills of McRobbie that bring the stories to life. They’re engaging, read almost like fairy-tales, and in some instances, are just downright hilarious. McRobbie doesn’t fall into the trap some biographers do of sacrificing entertainment for the bare bone facts; she strikes a near perfect balance, engaging with your emotions as well as your intellect.

I have never finished a biography as fast as I finished this one (granted, it’s not a long book). It’s truly a page-turner, and I couldn’t put it down. If I gave out stars or thumbs ups on this blog, this book would get all of them.

Obviously, I recommend this book. It’s fun, interesting, and as Bust Magazine said, “An important and impressive contribution to the feminist narrative”.

If you like Disney, but wish the princesses weren’t always such goody-goodies, then you are going to love Princesses Behaving Badly. Go get your copy today!

Until next time,

Erin K.