20 January 2020

The Court Jeweller Book Club: January 2020

The Court Jeweller

Before January flies away, we've got to take a moment to sit down and chat about what we've all been reading! In this month's installment of The Court Jeweller Book Club, I've got six intriguing books to share with all of you...

Over the past few weeks, I've delved into several books with royal and jewelry-related themes. Cartier's Hope (Atria, February 2020), the latest novel by M.J. Rose, is a mystery centered on a very familiar stone: the Hope Diamond. Reporter Vera Garland writes about the jewels worn in society as she delves into family secrets -- and decides to use the famous diamond to help right a serious wrong. It's a quick, entertaining read set in the midst of the world of Edwardian New York.

Another family historical locale -- the French Riviera in the 1930s -- is the setting and subject of Anne de Courcy's latest, Chanel's Riviera (St. Martin's, February 2020). The book isn't really a biography of Chanel; it merely uses familiar figures like Chanel and the Windsors as a way to introduce the reader to the Riviera. The book traces the rise of the area as a place of glamor, as well as the changes that quickly followed with the outbreak of war. I really enjoyed this one!

I also enjoyed Catherine Curzon's latest royal history book, Sophia: Mother of Kings (Pen and Sword, January 2020). She tells the story of one of the most pivotal figures in the history of the British succession, Sophia, Electress of Hanover. At times, the complicated family ties can feel a little overwhelming (a whole lot of the people discussed have such similar names!) but it's wonderful to get a focused biography on someone who was at the heart of so much royal change.

I also thought you might like a look at my royal to-read pile. I'm really excited to read Graham Viney's The Last Hurrah (Robinson, February 2020), which focuses on one of the most important royal tours of Queen Elizabeth II's life: her family's 1947 tour of Southern Africa. (That's the tour where Elizabeth turned 21 and made her famous speech about duty.) The post-war tour had such an impact on the way the Queen views her reign and the Commonwealth, and I can't wait to learn even more about it.

Adrian Tinniswood is one of my favorite writers on the subject of British aristocrats and country houses, and I've just ordered a copy of his latest, The House Party (Faber and Faber, November 2019). The book clocks in at a slim 176 pages, and it promises to be a concise, quick history of the weekend parties that were the center of the royal and aristocratic social scene a century ago.

I was also sent a review copy of Allison Pataki's new novel, The Queen's Fortune (Ballantine, February 2020), which dramatizes the life of Desiree Clary, the former fiancee of Napoleon who ended up becoming Queen of Sweden. I've always been fascinated by Desiree, and I'm very excited to read Pataki's fictional take on her very interesting real life!

That's a roundup of some of my recent royal reads and recommendations, now it's your turn! What have you been reading lately?

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