What an amazing historical fiction rendition of the story of George III from British author Laura Purcell. Her Queen of Bedlam, which was first published under a different name in England, is superb and a stand-out among the books written surrounding the various reigns of English monarchs.
The Georgian novel, of the many historical novels surrounding the life and times of Kings, Queens, and their offspring, is one I adored reading for numerous reasons. I won’t call it a Regency novel, even if she might, as I don’t want readers to get the wrong impression. It wasn’t that type of romantic book that swept you away just based on romantic intrigue or interludes alone or on the flip side made you roll your eyes. Yet, it wasn’t dark, dreary, or cumbersome either. If you like the type of people, especially women that Philippa Gregory writes of you’ll like this book, yet Purcell’s writing is MUCH better–more soft, flowing, and narrative with a strong voice. She captures each moment in time, even the sad situations, and puts it together for us into a story we’d not like to have to stop reading.
It had the perfect recipe of entertainment, offered in-depth societal and private looks at what it must have been like to be the wife or a daughter of George III, who was mad from a blood disease that seemed to cause some mental illness, and offered engaging dialogue and emotion. I really liked her characterization of his daughter, Royal. And even further, it was Charlotte’s story, not as the wife of George III even, just a side character, but as a mother who has lost children, has to manage a sick husband who she begins to fear yet loves, struggles with the chaos of the country, and juggles their 15 children. I could feel her stabilizing the castle, her family, and the monarchy structure all with a compassionate heart. It was the story of the women of his family and their roles. It was my perfect sort of British monarchy historical fiction read, as it was so easy to delve deep into from the start, causing me to read it much quickly than I read most books.
In my time garnering my history degree, and taking political science courses, the professors spent quite a bit of time on American History and British History, primarily George III’s reign of course as it had a little something to do with our own history (the American Revolution) and other pivotal points of history such as the French Revolution and defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. I suppose for so long, as young students in America, we mostly just heard of mad King George due to his reputation. Amazingly enough, he was the longest British ruler save Victoria or Elizabeth II!! Now, we get his tale from the side of his family, as well as having the opportunity to meet clearly his family and the strong women who stood behind him to keep the country going.
I feel Purcell was authentic in her novel, had researched so much so well, especially the women, and really took the time to construct dimensional and whole characters each with their own distinct personality that one could connect to and care for on several levels.
I am thrilled to have read this book and hope to read more books by Laura Purcell again. She has seemed to capture the voice of the Georgian Era and brought the women to life that we hear so little about so they finally get their due. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who fancies British history from this era….or the women in history who always seem to be caught up in the impulsive lives of ailing Kings. Her writing style will make you feel as if you are gliding across pages and you’ll read more in one sitting than you had planned.
Queen of Bedlam, Synopsis~
London, 1788. The calm order of Queen Charlotte’s court is shattered by screams. Her beloved husband, England’s King, has gone mad.
Left alone with thirteen children and a country at war, Charlotte must fight to hold her husband’s throne in a time of revolutionary fever. But it is not just the guillotine that Charlotte fears: it is the King himself.
Her six daughters are desperate to escape their palace asylum. Their only chance lies in a good marriage, but no Prince wants the daughter of a madman. They are forced to take love wherever they can find it – with devastating consequences.
The moving true story of George III’s madness and the women whose lives it destroyed.
Buy the Book~
Author Laura Purcell, Biography~
Laura is a member of the Historical Novel Society, The Society for Court Studies and Historic Royal Palaces. She has recently appeared on the PBS documentary The Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace, talking about Queen Caroline’s life at Hampton Court.
Laura’s novels explore the lives of royal women during the Georgian era, who have largely been ignored by modern history. Her debut Queen Charlotte was originally self-published as God Save the King, receiving excellent reviews as an Amazon bestseller in biographical fiction.
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