28 June 2018

TCJ Book Club Discussion: Julia P. Gelardi's Born to Rule

Julia P. Gelardi's Born to Rule (Photo: The Court Jeweller. Do not reproduce.)

It's time for the inaugural discussion post for The Court Jeweller Book Club, everybody! Many of you have been reading along with our June 2018 selection, Julia P. Gelardi's Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria, over the course of the last month, and today we're going to chat about our thoughts on the book.

Julia P. Gelardi's Born to Rule (Photo: The Court Jeweller. Do not reproduce.)

Gelardi's book is a biography of five of Queen Victoria's granddaughters -- Maud of Wales, Sophie of Prussia, Alix of Hesse, Marie of Edinburgh, and Ena of Battenberg -- who married monarchs. It's ambitious project, attempting to cover the lives of numerous people spanning an entire century. The book has both successes and faults, and I'd encourage you to comment on both aspects of the book that you enjoyed and those you'd have done differently.

Queen Maud of Norway, Queen Sophie of the Hellenes, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, Queen Marie of Romania, and Queen Ena of Spain (Grand Ladies Site)

To help kick things off, here's a series of questions to inspire some thoughts for discussion:

  • The book traces the story of five of Queen Victoria's granddaughters, all of whom married kings. Which woman's story did you find most compelling?
  • In each chapter, Gelardi hops from story to story, tracking the lives of the princesses in a roughly chronological way. How did the structure affect the way you experienced the book?
  • Although the book is called Born to Rule, these women were royal consorts, not sovereigns. Which of the five women do you think would have made the best monarch herself?
  • One surprising aspect of the book may have been the royal romances that didn't lead to the altar -- for example, the fact that King George V of the United Kingdom wanted to marry the future Queen Marie of Romania. Do you think they would have had a successful marriage?
  • Do you think this extended royal family could have (or should have) done more to try to save the lives of Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children?
  • Which of the five women made the most lasting impact on her adopted home country?
  • What lessons do you think modern royals should learn from the lives of these five royal women?

Stay tuned -- later today I'll be announcing our book club pick for July 2018!