Happy Tuesday Savvy Readers! It’s time for the next installment in the inaugural Historical Fiction Week here on the blog and we figured we might as well start it off with a bang! If you’re a royal watcher like myself, chances are you LOVE history and the fiction inspires set against a glittering backdrop of wealth, privilege, and power. Well, keep reading, because I’ve rounded up a list of books fans of the Royal Family won’t want to miss!
The Gown by Jennifer Robson
London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory and burdened by onerous rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honour: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. More than half a century later in Toronto, Heather seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, come to possess the priceless embroideries? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?
Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique to fend off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy. Meanwhile, James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. But in Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.
The Other Side of the Coin by Angela Kelly
When Angela Kelly and The Queen are together, laughter echoes through the corridors of Buckingham Palace. Angela has worked with The Queen and walked the corridors of the Royal Household for twenty-five years, initially as Her Majesty’s Senior Dresser and then latterly as Her Majesty’s Personal Advisor, Curator, Wardrobe and In-house Designer. As the first person in history to hold this title, she shares a uniquely close working relationship with The Queen. In The Other Side of the Coin, The Queen has personally given Angela her blessing to share their extraordinary bond with the world. Whether it’s preparing for a formal occasion or brightening Her Majesty’s day with a playful joke, Angela’s priority is to serve and support. Sharing never-before-seen photographs – many from Angela’s own private collection – and charming anecdotes of their time spent together, this revealing book provides memorable insights into what it’s like to work closely with The Queen, to curate her wardrobe and to discover a true and lasting connection along the way.
Queen of the North by Anne O’Brien
1399: England’s crown is under threat. King Richard II holds onto his power by an ever-weakening thread, with exiled Henry of Lancaster back to reclaim his place on the throne. For Elizabeth Mortimer, there is only one rightful King – her eight-year-old nephew, Edmund. Only he can guarantee her fortunes, and protect her family’s rule over the precious Northern lands bordering Scotland. But many, including Elizabeth’s husband, do not want another child-King. Elizabeth must hide her true ambitions in Court, and go against her husband’s wishes to help build a rebel army. To question her loyalty to the King places Elizabeth in the shadow of the axe. To concede would curdle her Plantagenet blood. This is one woman’s quest to turn history on its head.
The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock
In dreary, post-war Britain, Princess Margaret captivates everyone with her cutting-edge fashion sense and biting quips. The royal socialite, cigarette holder in one hand, cocktail in the other, sparkles in the company of her glittering entourage of wealthy young aristocrats known as the Margaret Set, but her outrageous lifestyle conflicts with her place as Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister. Post-war Britain isn’t glamorous for The Honorable Vera Strathmore and she dreams of regaining the happiness she enjoyed before her fiancé was killed in the war. But a chance meeting with the Princess changes her life forever. Thrust into the center of Margaret’s social and royal life, Vera watches the princess’s love affair with dashing Captain Peter Townsend unfurl. But while Margaret, as a member of the Royal Family, is not free to act on her desires, Vera soon wants the freedom to pursue her own dreams. As time and Princess Margaret’s scandalous behaviour progress, both women will be forced to choose between status, duty, and love…
The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper
April, 1897: A young nanny arrives at Sandringham, ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York. So begins the unforgettable story of Charlotte Bill, who would care for a generation of royals as their parents never could. Neither Charlotte—LaLa, as her charges dub her—nor anyone else can predict that eldest sons David and Bertie will each one day be king. LaLa knows only that these children, and the four who swiftly follow, need her steadfast loyalty and unconditional affection. But the greatest impact on Charlotte’s life is made by a mere bud on the family tree: a misunderstood soul who will one day be known as the Lost Prince. Young Prince John needs all of Lala’s love—the kind of love his parents won’t…or can’t…show him.
Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson
Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society forbid Lilly from following her heart. When war breaks out, she seizes her chance for independence, moving to London and eventually becoming an ambulance driver in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Assigned to a field hospital in France, Lilly is reunited with Scottish surgeon Robert Fraser, her dear brother Edward’s best friend. She doesn’t care that Robbie grew up in poverty—she yearns for their friendly affection to become something more. Lilly is the most beautiful—and forbidden—woman Robbie has ever known. Fearful for her life, he’s determined to keep her safe, even if it means breaking her heart. In a world divided by class, filled with uncertainty and death, can their hope for love survive. . . or will it become another casualty of this tragic war?
Queen Elizabeth by William Shawcross
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes Lyon, the youngest daughter of the Earl of Strathmore, was born on August 4, 1900. It might reasonably have been expected that she would lead a life of ease and privilege, but few could have imagined the profound effect she would have on Britain and its people. Her life spanned the whole of the 20th century, and this official biography tells not only her story but, through it, that of the country she loved so devotedly. Drawing on her private correspondence and unpublished material from the Royal Archives, William Shawcross reveals the witty girl who endeared herself to soldiers convalescing at Glamis in the First World War; the assured young Duchess of York; the Queen; and, finally, the Queen Mother in a definitive portrait of a remarkable woman.
The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz
Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress. Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the heirloom dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.
American Duchess by Karen Harper
Before Meghan and Harry, another American ‘princess’ captured the hand of an English aristocrat. On a cold November day in 1895, a carriage approaches St Thomas Episcopal Church on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Massive crowds await their glimpse of heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Just 18, the beautiful bride has not only arrived late but in tears. As her marriage to the duke disintegrates, Consuelo finds an inner strength, charming everyone from debutantes to diplomats including Winston Churchill, as she fights for women’s suffrage. And when she takes a scandalous leap, can she hope to attain love at last…? From the dawning of the Gilded Age to the battles of the Second World War, American Duchess is a riveting tale of one woman’s quest to attain independence—at any price.
Can’t get enough of the royals? Keep your eyes peeled for these two titles,
The Queen’s Secret by Karen Harper
1939. As the wife of King George VI and the mother of the future queen, Elizabeth—“the queen mother”—shows a warm, smiling face to the world. But it’s no surprise that Hitler himself calls her the “Most Dangerous Woman in Europe.” For behind that soft voice and kind demeanour is a will of steel. Vowing to do whatever it takes to make her husband’s reign a success, Elizabeth holds many powerful cards, but she’s also hiding damaging secrets about her past that could prove to be her undoing.
The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull
An irresistible historical debut, set in the glamorous world of British and American royalty in the 1920s, based on the true story of the woman who owned Prince Edward’s heart before introducing him to her dear friend Wallis. Perfect for fans of Netflix’s The Crown and Jennifer Robson’s The Gown, The Woman Before Wallis hits shelves this July and is a must-read for anyone intrigued by Prince Edward’s infamous abdication and his life before he met American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
Well, Savvy Readers, that’s all I have for you today! Tell me in the comments below or tweet us @SavvyReader, which of these royal reads are you adding to your TBR?!