Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Royal Pains and Giveaway!

Royals are the ultimate level of the privileged sect.  Their lives are notoriously unavailable and therefore theoretically private to us small folk.  Perhaps that is why we have always found them so interesting...especially when they are so badly behaved.  Leslie Carroll (no relation) is no stranger to the tantalizing, and perhaps more scandalous, tales of royals throughout the ages.  Her newest book, Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds is a collection of tales of royal family member all over the world, and throughout history who were, well, a big pain!

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 Bartgory* Bathory.  Those who already know of the pain-inducing antics of these royals may want to skip over this one but those who have yet to be introduced will likely enjoy this introduction to those who wore crowns or coronets on their unworthy heads.  Just don't get any ideas!

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!

*Freudian slip?


  1. Well! I've always known I was born to be a princess, and my younger brother claims I'm already a royal pain. ;)Still, I like to think that if by some miracle I did come into a position of power I would actually be a kind and benevolent ruler. However, due to my rather unhealthy fascination with Vlad the Impaler (What a devil that man was!) and the excitement the prospect of this book gives me, I fear I would in fact be a pain.

  2. Patricia the PrincessJune 28, 2011 at 1:23 AM

    Well, I am a princess, as the youngest of 5 children and the only girl!!!! the champagne corks popped at my arrival, and my paternal grandmother brought boxes of frilly gowns to the hospital! My poor brother only two years older than I cried, "why don't I get any new clothes?" Spoiled? yes! A royal pain? Just ask my brothers!!!

  3. Um, how wouldn't I be a royal pain? I'm AUTISTIC! I also happen to have spastic Cerebral Palsy, asthma and Epilepsy from birth. So, if I hadn't died at a young age or at birth (as I was also born blue, mind you; hence, my pet name, "Smurf"), I imagine I would be a handful as they didn't have the kind of therapy I needed way. way, WAY back in the day. I think I would the epitome of the phrase, "bouncing baby brat."

    However, I hope I would happen to be a very creative, bouncing baby brat with an army of dogs at her disposal. I'm a very creative person today and I am dearly fond of dogs.

  4. Oh dear, I'm quite afraid I would spend all the tax money on chocolate, cats, pen and paper. And I'm sure my subjects wouldn't be too happy when I skipped formal balls to write books in total isolation in my royal chambers. *puts on snobbish accent* But at least I wouldn't be going around killing them to have my beauty bath, mind you.

    (P.S.: Love your blog!! :)

  5. Katherine LouiseJune 28, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    Oh my--for the chance to be a royal pain! I've been such a good girl my whole life, if I were suddenly the queen or even a duchess I would have the best seamstress in the kingdom create for me gorgeous gowns in satin and silk (velvet in season), decorative shoes, plumed hats; and books and art! I'd build a workshop and studio for DH and buy him a brand new drum set. I'd patronize writers and artists to my heart's content. I'd redecorate the palace. I'd endow colleges and libraries. I'd send my nieces and nephews to the best schools. We'd all travel. I would be the decider! Oops--sorry-getting carried away . . .

  6. I, alas was never brought up as anyone's little princess, and I never had much of a chance to do it prince-style.

    I think I'd do it George III style. I like to eat anyway, but to feast like a prince would be tremendous fun. Order in all the bands I like to play just for me and share wine and food with friends every night.

    I also like the way he supported building, like Regent Street and the Brighton Pavilion. I'd hold pig parades and festivals, dance with all the actresses and start grand building projects, and a huge library.

    I'd leave behind a broke, but much prettier kingdom.

  7. I'd force everyone in my realm to wear pieces of paper in their hair (bald people would have to blu-tack it to their heads) every Monday between the hours of 6:35am to 9:34pm (anyone not doing this would be executed without trial).

    I would then change the word 'Headache' to the word 'brick' ("I have such a bad brick"). Again, anyone refusing to say 'Brick' instead of 'Headache' will be executed.

    Finally, I'd spent all of my (subject's) money changing the english landscape in order to make all of the rivers and streams spell out 'Lana'.

    After all of this, I'd be utterly poor and hated by all of my people. I'd then move to Germany and become a nun.

  8. I would be the kind of pain who required things just so. The books on my shelf would have to be in color order then in order by author. I would try to be polite, though.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. HOw am I a royal pain? easy. I complain A LOT. I can also be a total b***h and not mean it (i'll also spent over an hour apologizing for it afterwards). I get hell jealous if my brother gets something and I don't, yet I hate it when people buy me things and tell them not to waste their money one me.

    Also, the book sounds magnificant! Lovely review~!

  10. Hmmm... If I was rich and in the royal family, I may be greedy and a shopaholic like Marie Antoinette. ;)
    coenobita54 [at] gmail [dot] com

  11. No question, I would wear cool clothes and marry Prince Harry.

  12. I'd be a royal pain by refusing to give up my oh-so-common hobbies... gardening, dancing (with whoever asks, of course), spinning wool, and knitting. And of course, I'd marry whoever suited me, and think nothing about following my heart!