The Strangest Family: George III's Extraordinary Experiment In Domestic Happiness. By Janice Hadlow (2014)
The Strangest Family: George III's Extraordinary Experiment in Domestic Happiness. by Janice Hadlow (2014)
3.96 of 5 Votes: 1
0007165196 (ISBN13: 9780007165193)
William Collins
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I don't normally read straight non-fiction but this was recommended and I am glad I read it. Janice Hadlow has worked for the BBC for over 2 decades and her background and experience has truly made this subject come to light. She put it together in a very readable and thorough way. It was a slow start but once I got into the book it was hard to put it down.She gave such detail of George the III's life and the people around him that you came to really know them. I liked this book and if you like English history, royalty and a good psychology of a person, this is it. I'm not sure how or why I started reading books about private life at the Georgian court, but this is one of the best. It's long and detailed, but not dense, and the personalities of George III, Queen Charlotte and their many children are vividly rendered. The "experiment" of the title was the royal couple's attempt to develop meaningful, morally upright and emotionally satisfying family relationships that would be a model for society. In fact, as the author explains well, the emphasis on private life and personal fulfillment was a growing trend among the upper classes of the era. Unfortunately for the royals, they were still bound by the old dynastic obligations, which included arranged marriages, rigid court protocols, and absolute obedience to the will and whims of the king. Even before George III went mad, his family was held in a kind of limbo, unable to pursue their own interests and desires. The princes rebelled by leading dissolute and largely aimless lives, while the princesses were trapped in their roles as dutiful daughters until far past the normal age for marriage and childbearing. Of course, none of the women, including the Queen, could assert themselves in any sphere outside the family. In the end, King George and Queen Charlotte succeeded in creating an idealized image of family life by sacrificing the genuine happiness and fulfillment of their children- an ironic legacy for subsequent generations of the House of Windsor. Although it's not an explicit theme of the book, I also think there is a lesson here for any parents who regard a family life as an experiment rather than a delicate web of relationships. In short, it's a bittersweet history of a colorful, troubled family, with great aspirations and equally great frustrations, who just happened to wear crowns.
Thoroughly enjoyed reading about the inner lives of George III & Queen Charlotte's family!
One of the best biographies I have ever read.
To much detail.
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