Wednesday, May 1, 2013
God Save The King by Laura Purcell
London, 1788. The calm order of Queen Charlotte's court is shattered by screams. Her beloved husband, England's King, has gone mad. Left alone with thirteen children and a country at war, Charlotte must fight to hold her husband's throne in a time of revolutionary fever. But it is not just the guillotine that Charlotte fears: it is the King himself. Her six daughters are desperate to escape their palace asylum. Their only chance lies in a good marriage, but no Prince wants the daughter of a madman. They are forced to take love wherever they can find it - with devastating consequences. The moving true story of George III's madness and the women whose lives it destroyed.
Ms Purcell self published this, her debut novel, but I just know we are going to hear a lot more from her. She has an especial affinity for the wife and daughters of George III as he descends into the illness that robs him of his ability to rule the country and appoint his feckless son as Regent.
Queen Charlotte, Princesses Charlotte [known as Royal] Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary, Sophia and Amelia were sheltered, smothered and neglected by turn as they all had to come to terms with the king’s, and thus their own, situation.
The story, told mainly through the Queen, Royal and Sophia, and is of how Queen Charlotte’s devotion to her husband turns slowly to frustration and resentment as he grows mentally and physically worse, which impacts on her girls too though the boys seem to be singularly unaffected, though the stigma of inherited madness haunts them all in one way or another.
Royal looks as if she will be able to break free, but she experiences her own unhappiness within the marriage that was supposed to redeem her. Sophia, who has her own health problems, is determined to find love, but her misguided choice ends up hurting her more than she could have foreseen.
The author doesn’t neglect the political arena with her impeccable research, and includes all the external problems which make Queen Charlotte’s situation even worse. This was a time when England needed a strong king, but George III ends up being cruelly lampooned by the populace and loses the regard of the country he truly loved more than his father or grandfather ever did.
A beautifully written, emotional story, that I have to admit I could only read in short bursts as the heartbreak reached out to me from the pages. Queen Charlotte's death scene is particularly tragic as she recalls everything in her life which she loved but was destined to lose.
Ms Purcell has other novels about the Hanoverians planned, and I am looking forward to her interpretation. I hope they aren’t quite as tragic as this story of a family broken by sickness and being trapped in their situations, but I knowing a little about how the family treated each other - I somehow doubt it.
Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England, is being released by Claymore Press in early 2013 under the name Anita Seymour