Beginning with King John of England and ending with the current sovereign of that country's late sister, Princess Margaret, Carroll covers both well known royal pains and not-so-well known pains. For example, I had previously been unaware of how emo Archduke Rudolf of Austria was; it would be the cause of his untimely end. Her expertise and love of English history is very apparent, with many of the chapters being dedicated to the badly behaved family members of the British monarchy so anglophiles will surely enjoy this read. However, variety is the name of the game with this collection of royal biographies; not only are the subjects from different families and times they also distinct themselves in their uniquely painful behavior. Some are pains in their love of mutilating those they rule over while others are painful in their willful pursuit of hedonism. So who are these guilty parties lucky enough to be honored in Royal Pains you may ask? Carroll has quite an intriguing selection: King John, Vlad the Impaler, George Duke of Clarence, Richard III, Ivan the Terrible, Lettice Knollys, Elizabeth Bathory, Henry Duke of Cumberland, Pauline Bonaparte, Archduke Rudolf, Prince Albert Victor, and Princess Margaret.
Royal Pains is one of those lovely reads that you either can't put down or you can read at your leisure, picking it up when you are in the mood for some Richard III gossip. As a fellow enthusiast of English history I actually found myself enjoying the non-British royals' stories more. Perhaps this was due to their stories being more foreign to me. I also guiltily relished in all the gross and gruesome details of the lives of Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth
Want a copy of Leslie Carroll's Royal Pains? Leave a comment describing how you would be a simply delectable royal pain. Winners will be drawn at random and announced Tuesday July 5 and have 5 days to claim their prize. Good luck!