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VINE VOICEon 29 March 2008
Veronica Baker-Smith says in her foreword that the reign of George II and his family has received hardly any attention, seemingly lost between George I who gained the throne and the well-known rule of "mad" King George III and his scandalous sons. And if I look at my own library it is actually true. There are of course tons of books on George III and all his children, a few on George I but just three on George II, his wife and his mistress, the later has only recently been published. But there is none on his sons and daughters. One knows maybe about "the king who never was" Prince Frederick of Wales and his brother the Duke of Cumberland better as the butcher of Culloden, but the daughters... which daughters. So the book really fills a gap and I enjoyed very much reading it.

It is written with a great flow, knowledge and sympathy without being blind to the short-comings of the Princes and Princesses.

Being half Dutch it is great to learn quite a bit about the House of Orange and maybe its worse times due to the personalities of its Princes. The parts of the book dealing with Anne, the Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, are the best. I feel that she is a bit too generous with the Duke of Cumberland and quite a few questions remain with regards to Prince Frederick. The Princess Amelia seems to be quite a character. The author feeds the reader only with a few bits about Princess Louisa, Queen Consort of Denmark, and this is disappointing. Princess Mary as princess of Hesse fares only slightly better.

All in all, a great addition of my library and one gets curious and wants to learn more about this "forgotten royal family".
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on 17 March 2010
I am learning lots about a point in our history, which for some reason excites fewer biographies. George II was clearly not barmy enough, nor married enough for that, but he oversaw a very busy transitional period between the Tudors/Stuarts and the Royal family as we might recognise it today. Given the intermarrying that went on with the ruling families throughout Europe for many generations, it is remarkable that our Queen is not a deformed, dribbling maniac, but the sensible intelligent woman that she is!

It is also curious how, for very different reasons, each of the Hanoverian Kings harboured terrific hatred for their father and determined to be different, but then went on to be equally appalling to their wives and families. You have to pity the succession of wives and daughters especially, as they had precious little say in where they married. Anne, the Princess Royal, struck lucky - her husband was clearly no eye-candy, but they fell in love after the marriage. However she then suffered the fate of having miscarriage after miscarriage and several infant deaths. Harrowing stuff!

I have to say though, that I'm sorry I'm reading this straight off the back of Tracy Boorman's amazing book about Henrietta Howard, the mistress of George II, because the writing style of this author has not drawn me in as well as Ms Boorman's, and I'm actually finding it a bit hard going!
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on 30 July 2013
Royal discord is a very enjoyable & witty book which I finished in a matter of days. The book argues that the children of George II are somewhat underrated & treated unfairly (or ignored altogether) by history. For example, it is argued that William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland really was not the nasty 'butcher of Culloden' that he was made to be but rather a jovial guy & a military reformer. For me as a Dutchman the most interesting person was Anna who married 'our' stadholder Willem IV and played an important role in The Netherlands. Anne gets a lot of attention in this book as she seems to have been the subect of the writer's PhD thesis. All in all, a very interesting book from which one learns a lot about the early half of the 18th century while having a good laugh too. Incidentally another good book about more or less the same subject matter (but with different focus, i.e. more on castles and less on politics) is Lucy Worsley's 'Courtiers'.
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on 18 November 2008
Do not be put off by the rather academic cover- this is a page turner! Not only does Veronica Baker-Smith take a subject that has been neglected by others but she gives it a life and immediacy that I have rarely come across in historical biography - her exhaustive research covers all areas of Georgian life to the extent that I felt I inhabited it myself. The book certainly offers a serious re-evaluation of the politics of the day, a time of great upheaval in Europe with echoes of the present day, it is also tremendously funny and moving. A vital new piece of scholarship, brilliantly written by someone who obviously understands human nature as well as she understands history. Even if you think you are not interested in this period, you will want to read this book
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on 22 March 2016
Superb book on the too often dismissed family of King George II and Queen Caroline. In fact, the seven surviving children who reached adulthood are all fascinating characters in their own right. The book is straightforward and is a pleasure to read as we get into the movers and shakers of perhaps the most dsyfucntional royal family of all time! In Particular, the outsider was very much Frederick, Prince of Wales who was very much disliked by his parents and most of his siblings which is rather odd! But take nothing for granted from this most unharmonious but talented of royal broods. Amidst the undignified scandals and squabbling there was undeniable ability and a formidable legacy that bore the House of Hanover a distinguished reputation in later years. For a rollicking read and a fascinating account of this forgotton royal family i urge you to read this book now!
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on 22 January 2015
I’m currently trying to read as much as I can about Caroline of Ansbach, wife of George II, but can’t find anything in print that deals primarily with her. However, this was a very useful book as it is mostly about her children. I had heard about Frederick who narrowly missed out on being King himself, but didn’t know much about him. And I knew a bit about “Butcher” Cumberland, but hadn’t really twigged that he was George III’s uncle. And I hadn’t even heard of their sisters – and their lives make very interesting reading too. I do have a quibble about the book though – it deserves better editing. There are too many irritating typos, the family tree doesn't credit William IV as having been a king and sometimes Baker-Smith jumps around too much and it takes a while reading a paragraph before you get your head around who she is talking about.
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on 24 August 2010
A very interesting book; need some concentration to follow all the people mentioned, but worth reading
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on 31 August 2009
Would have liked to have found out some more about King George's other daughters Princess Mary and Princess Louise whose descendants played important roles in the history of Denmark.
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