The Tragic Daughters Of Charles I: Mary, Elizabeth & Henrietta Ann by Sarah-Beth Watkins My rating: 🌏🌏 🌏 🌏 4/5 globes
Seeing as it’s International Women’s Day I thought it would be appropriate to share my review of Sarah-Beth Watkins’s upcoming book about three very international young women. I love the seventeenth century but royal history has never been my thing so I didn’t know a lot about Charles I’s children. I never knew there was so much drama and gossip surrounding them! I suppose with the fraught political background of the English Civil War, how could there not?
The book begins with the dramatic beheading of Charles I in 1649 and focuses mainly on the effect this had on the lives of his children and the wife he left behind. In particular his daughters Mary, Elizabeth and Henrietta Ann, all of whom led separate lives in different countries in the name of duty. Two them endured unhappy marriages, multiple pregnancies and it seems periods of loneliness. Sadly none of the sisters lived to see thirty years old.
I would describe the book as a historical narrative, it straddles the line between a serious biography and a dramatised version of the Stuart’s lives. It doesn’t manage to be entirely serious due to the inclusion of more salacious sources (court gossip) but to be honest I quite liked that (it made for a fun read!). Watkins’s use of the family’s personal letters allowed the women to speak for themselves which I also enjoyed. Of the three sisters I found Henrietta Ann’s life particularly interesting with her French Catholic upbringing, philandering husband and love of the arts. I also thought the love for her siblings really came across in a touching way, in particular her relationship with Charles II.
In this book Watkins has chosen to focus on the ‘tragic lives’ of Charles’s daughters, however it also highlights much of the joy they had in their lives, through the friendships they formed, and the limited time they spent together. Overall I would recommend this book for an informative overview of the Stuart family as well as a thoroughly entertaining read.
The Tragic Daughters Of Charles I is out on 26th April 2019. More details from the publisher can be found here: https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/chronos-books/our-books/tragic-daughters-king-charles-i