Read Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodríguez McRobbie Online


You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But the lives of real princesses couldn’t be more different. Sure, many were graceful and benevolent leaders—but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power, and all of them had skeletons rattling in their rYou think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But the lives of real princesses couldn’t be more different. Sure, many were graceful and benevolent leaders—but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power, and all of them had skeletons rattling in their royal closets. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elizabeth of the Austro-Hungarian empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev murdered thousands of men, and Princess Rani Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield, charging into combat with her toddler son strapped to her back. Princesses Behaving Badly offers minibiographies of all these princesses and dozens more. It’s a fascinating read for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story....

Title : Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781594746444
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 303 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings Reviews

  • Sasha Strader
    2019-03-03 08:54

    An interesting premise, but not really all that well executed. First, and most tellingly, a few of the "real" stories are based on mythology or folklore with absolutely no proof of their existence and say as much. Why create a book of real stories and go down that path? It especially irked me in the case of "The Princess who was a Pirate" since it was just mentioned casually towards the end of the story that her existence was only in the tall tales of the area.Secondly, the gossip rag style of writing left me with a sour taste in my mouth. (most of) These women were real and were fighting real battles with enemies, themselves, or society. I could wish the author had been a little more understanding and explanatory of the circumstances surrounding their actions. The only slight exception to this seemed to be Juana de Castille (aka, Juana the Mad) who the author explained may have been portrayed as mad by her husband and father to rend her politically powerless.Finally, and mostly irrelevantly, I received an ARC copy and WOW I hope the proofreaders and editors get hold of this and shake it down before it goes public. I've never had such a hard time reading through a book before, but this one had so many grammar, spelling, and continuity errors I felt like I was grading a remedial paper.

  • Jane
    2019-02-24 05:57

    Where I got the book: ARC from LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program. A book club read.First of all, this is not a "serious" history book. I gather some readers have had problems with the lack of academic gravitas so if you're looking for stories of princesses with copious endnotes, stop right now and proceed to a university library. My copy is an advance reading copy so I can't tell you about the selected bibliography or the index, but from reading the book I imagine they're not that extensive.So what we have here is a light, fluffy, amuse-gueule of a read, covering examples of royal hellcats from ancient history to the present, but--weirdly--leaving out Princess Diana (yet including Princess Margaret, so it can't be because the author's afraid of being sued by the Royal Family.) It's clearly meant as the kind of book you dip into, leave in your bathroom (don't tell me you don't) or keep on your nightstand to cleanse your mind after a day at the office. It's the kind of book you give as a gift to your cousin who likes reading historical stuff but you've really no idea what her specific area of interest is. And does it do a good job within the confines of its own limitations? I think so. McRobbie divides the text into sections: Warriors, Usurpers, Schemers, etc., rounding up a handful of examples for each part and recounting their stories in a breezy, sometimes snarky, style--think the feature pages of the Sunday newspaper and you've pretty much got the tone right.I'm not a big fan of compendium works like this on the whole, but the more I read, the more I enjoyed it. I particularly relish the mad and bad 18th and 19th century princesses--nothing like inbreeding, a miserable childhood and the over-the-top excesses of an 18th century court to bring out the worst in a woman.McRobbie stretches the definition of "princess" a bit, so serious students of history might disagree with some of her choices. But in case you weren't paying attention to the first paragraph, SERIOUS STUDENTS OF HISTORY SHOULD NOT READ THIS YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. I can tell you who SHOULD read this: novelists looking for a good story. I'm keeping this one on my shelf for story ideas because truth (or the gossips' version of truth) really is stranger than fiction.

  • Rebecca Huston
    2019-03-11 04:06

    Sadly, I picked this one up to see if I could fight off a case of insomnia. That didn't happen. This rather short, nonfiction book is a slight, very fluffy accounting of princesses who didn't have a chance of happiness. Each one gets a page or two, a woodcut-looking illustration if they were lucky, and the author dishing up plenty of snark and snide as a bonus. Many of these ladies I had heard of, a few I knew fairly well, and quite a few were those on the fringes. The ones who claimed to be princesses and weren't, or various imposters -- most famously, Anna Anderson aka Anastasia -- give the most interesting stories. A few of the stories are just barely in the running as princess fodder. I was very surprised that there were quite a few omissions, most notably, the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Now for the bad news: the research here is slight at best. The author only gives one or two sources for each lady in this tale, and most of them rate as popular histories at best. Which is a shame. This could have been done so much better and much more interestingly if the author had only bothered to take the time and effort. But I guess she was trying to cash in on the Princess craze. Just two stars and a not recommended. For the longer review, please go here:

  • Jessica
    2019-02-21 06:15

    My favorite kind of history book: the interesting bits, presented in handy bite-sized portions. This book is full of short (most around 4 pages) biographies of notable princesses from the 4th century to the 21st. Some of them were horrible, some insane. And some were warriors, some were saints in life and have become literal saints in death. Some were total fakers, too, like Princess Caraboo. (Side note: I love the movie with Phoebe Cates, and just found out a year ago that it was based on a true story. The real story is far less magical but EVEN MORE fascinating!)It reminds me of the Uppity Women books, but this book was clearly better researched, and has a great bibliography at the back. Two thumbs way up!

  • Kat
    2019-03-08 07:22

    My review is based on two things: 1.) Based on listening to the audio version2.) The introduction by the author asserted that she wanted to debunk the Disney princess idealism by sharing real stories of real princesses. The structure of the book was disjointed and contradictory. The author grouped these "princesses" (the term is used loosely as she also featured queens, empresses, and American rich girls) into various categories - "warriors," "floozies," "partiers," "etc." Some of the women fell into multiple categories - some fell into none. I think it would have been better to group them into princess fairy tale stereotypes such as "Women Who Escaped Prince Charming," or "Women Who Didn't Need Saving," or even "Women Who Bought Their Own Glass Slipper."The sub headers and the myths inserted before the "actual" stories was also confusing. Sometimes I would become enraptured by a story only to have the author jump in and say, "Now here's what really happened..." It felt lazy to just read the text verbatim. If a section of a book is defined by a font type - it should be adjusted for an audio book audience. Moving away from the structure, I thought it was hypocritical of the author to initially criticize Disney, news outlets, etc. for creating "narcissistic" children who idolize unrealistic princesses. In every description of the real women, McRobbie made a comment on their physical appearance. If the focus was truly on the women's deeds...why do we need to know what she looked like? Furthermore, if the driving force of this book is true stories - how do you really know what some of these Viking and ancient Chinese "princesses" looked like? Ultimately, I think McRobbie set an expectation that she couldn't fulfill. While the premise of the book was good, it's a lofty goal to change public perception of princess...particularly when you're trying to counter opinions with a poorly executed book.

  • Alice
    2019-02-27 05:03

    I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. While Goodreads does ask for a review in exchange for the advance reader copy, I was in no way compensated for my review.This is a collection of stories about real-life princesses throughout history who made their marks, in one way or another. Several make power grabs, while others are known for being the true power behind the throne, or for their madness. There are some warriors, all from non-European backgrounds. Many of the stories are about princesses in the last century or so, known for a certain wildness.The book's strength is that it covers a lot of different cultures. There are princesses from every continent but Australia and South America. It could've stuck to just European royalty, but the variety fills in a lot of gaps of my own knowledge of history. Two North American princesses are discussed, in very different terms due to their very different approaches to the white conquerors.While this does go a long way toward showing us where the women were in history, it's not without its faults. The book uses "gypsy" to describe people of Romani heritage, and doesn't question the stereotyped views thereof. It also takes a modern approach to beauty, scoffing at descriptions of plump princesses as attractive and describing all of the European princesses in terms of their looks. The Asian, African, and Native American, apparently, weren't worth considering. Last, it often presents the mythologized stories of these royals for several paragraphs before cutting in to say that's not true, that this is how it really happened.This book was a decent way to make history interesting and relevant to me. It adds on to my high school courses about dead white guys. But, as a primary resource, it's lacking. I think it's a good jumping-off point for discovering about different people and cultures, but it's not detailed enough. It is a fun read, though the last third felt rather repetitive.I would recommend this book to middle school and high school students who are bored to tears of their history courses, and want to hear about something other than dates and battles and borders. Budding feminists may also be pleased with the new ammunition about how women have been erased from history.

  • Marquise
    2019-02-23 04:20

    A moderately entertaining "beach read" type of book, with enough amusing anecdotes to keep a reader turning the pages, but overall a rather superfluous one, which I suppose is the whole point, it being a condensed popular history product. Personally, most of these women were either already known to me or just not that interesting, so I cannot say I found this particularly enjoyable or informative.

  • Cassie-la
    2019-03-22 10:07

    REVIEW ALSO ON: explained in its introduction, Princesses Behaving Badly seeks to destroy the myth of the "Princess Industrial Complex" covered in the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein. It argues that this belief in the fantasy princess life perpetuated by Disney and the real-life Kate Middleton is a dangerous one because no one seems to realize this imaginary world is an unrealistic one with harrowing real life consequences, such as the death of Princess Diana.It explores this idea by detailing stories of princesses who don't fit into this mold, presenting easy to read and digest mini-biographies of real world princesses who were anything but the well-behaved marriage alliance, baby-making machines and damsels in distresses we know from fairy tales.The book gives a wide swath of princesses to read up on and is divided by types: Warriors, Usurpers, Schemers, Survivors, Partiers, Floozies and Madwomen, exploring princesses from 1500 BCE to the 21st century, telling tales of Vikings, Egyptians, Tudors, and punks. Although not necessarily in order.McRobbie writes entirely readable histories of the women like the pirate princess, Egyptian ruler Hatshepsut, the princess who tried to wed Atilla the Hun, Isabella the "She-Wolf" of France who was buried with the heart of her husband in her hands, Lucrezia Borgia the mafia princess, the prisoner princess who wed a man dubbed "Pig Snout," the princess who became a communist, the punk rock princess, Pauline Bonaparte the exhibitionist princess and even Franziska the woman masquerading as the missing Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna to name a few.Each princess gets her own chapter complete with full biography that details the important parts of their lives and McRobbie stuffs the book with even more princesses by including fun little sections within each chapter dealing with other types of women and their royal counterparts throughout history.For example, women accused of witchcraft (see: Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth Woodville), so-called Dollar Princesses who kept European businessman afloat with money in exchange for titles, princesses who gave up their titles for love and mad princesses (see: Countess Elizabeth Bathory) which was my particular favorite section. Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's the blood of 600 slain virgins.Still other sections just seek to expand upon a historical practice at the time or more general topics such as the purpose of royal incest, how to fake being a princess and famous last words. While nothing could top the supposed last words of Oscar Wilde which are misquoted and not his last words ("either this wallpaper goes or I do"), Marie Antoinette's were pretty good. She allegedly said, "Pardon me, sir, I did not mean to do it" after stepping on the foot of her executioner.The book is also full of princesses accused of sexual debauchery, but as the author is quick to remind her reader, "the easiest way to slander a woman in any era is to call her a slut." Actually nailed it!To sum thing up for you, Princesses Behaving Badly is a must read for any history buffs, lovers of interesting historical tidbits or anyone who ever wishes their princesses were more Merida and less Snow White.

  • Lea
    2019-03-04 07:20

    This book has an interesting title and an interesting premise. Unfortunately, the writing is atrocious.I'm confused as to the actual target audience the author was trying to reach here. In the introduction, she talks about how Disney is evil and poisoning the minds of our youth by making girls want to be like the Disney princesses (don't even get me started on this bullshit - she must have missed how Disney princesses are brave, kind, generous, hard-working, etc). Her purpose seems to be, then, to write the ultimate childhood-ruiner bedtime story book: "See, Becky, THIS is what REAL princesses were like!! No happy endings HERE!! Just like LIFE!!".Her TONE, condescending af, trying to incorporate outdated slang, and weirdly reminiscent of TMZ, is the embodiment of this gif:But no parent in their right mind would give this book to a child - it's full of incest, murder, torture and other "adult" themes. So you end up with a book written as IF to a child (except even children would roll their eyes at her try-hard writing) but which can only be read by adults.And another thing: the tagline from this book is "REAL stories from HISTORY". Its whole thing is to talk about the lives of real princesses. And yet??? The proportion of REAL princesses from HISTORY here is incredibly small. The author includes stories that only exist in mythology and folklore, women who were never princesses and many who weren't even nobility. Gotta fill these pages somehow, amirite??I want to read this book again, when it's written by a better author and has a better selection.

  • Shelley
    2019-03-22 08:58

    This is a fluffy romp through history, with princesses doing exactly what the title says: behaving badly. Or being forced to behave badly due to circumstance, or being treated badly by other people. Basically, these are character sketches of princesses...minus the happy endings. I find the criticisms of the book as not being scholarly enough perplexing--what were these reviewers expecting? And yes, the notes are scanty, but the prose is fun and so far as I could tell, accurate, and if you're reading this for a term paper, you aren't doing it properly, anyway. Go read Anne Somerset or Jenny Uglow for the weighty stuff. (Their notes will help you with a dissertation.) This is a fun, fast read. It's a great gift for a friend who likes history (but you never know if they're currently stuck on Soviet gulags or Regency England). I find the omission of Eleanor of Aquitaine glaring, but not enough to deduct a star. I loved that the author didn't neglect Asian or African princesses. Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publisher via Red Letter Reads.

  • Katherine
    2019-02-28 08:02

    We've all heard the tales of famous princesses (and queens); Marie-Antoinette, Elizabeth I, Cleopatra. But there are some princesses that are completely overlooked in the modern history books, forever to be obscure. Until now. In this collection, the author takes a look at some of the more colorful princesses and queens of the world. Divided into seven sections based on personality traits and actions, it gives a brief glimpse into the crazy shenanigans some of these women involved themselves in.The one quibble I had with the book? The introduction. My God, some of these psychological studies take themselves too darn seriously. I grew up watching Disney Princess movies, and I turned out FINE. >:(Enough of that, let's get on with it!!The Kick-Ass PrincessesAka, the princesses you don't dare mess with for fear of getting the shit kicked out of you. Whether it be by trained cobras and vipers who are trained to bite you in your most, ahem, sensitive areas (Princess Alfhild), fight in battle with a baby strapped to her back and still keeps fighting with an arrow stuck in her eye (Lakshmibai), or refuse to marry unless a handsome prince... manages to beat her in a wrestling match (Khutulan), these princesses are NOT to be messed with under any circumstances.The I-Am-Woman, Hear-Me-Roar Princesses Men? Who needs men? They have no idea what the hell they're doing in the first place, and most of our disastrous historical events have been caused by men in the first place. At least, this is the philosophy these women go by. Who cares if there's already a man on the throne? You can become a ruler anyways (Hatshepsut of Egypt). In fact, why not take it s step further and become the only woman ruler in your country? (Wu Zetain, the only female emperor of China). It's a woman's world out there, and they're just living it. The Scheming-Ass Princesses If you want something, go for it. And if anything stands in your way get rid of the obstacle. This is the philosophy that these royals lived by. It doesn't matter where you come from life, there's always the hope that, with enough wit, intelligence, scheming and maybe a murder or two, your chances of being royalty are substantially increased. Roxolana didn't let the fact that she was a sex slave stop her from weaseling her way into the sultan's favor and becoming his queen. Unfortunately for some, these grand exploits to further their standing can go horribly wrong. Like Justa Grata Honoria, who, in her attempt to gain favor with Attila the Hun, paved way for the barbarian invasions to the Roman Empire. Just goes to show that women are dangerous. And men need to get their shit together. The I-Have-No-Idea- What-I'm Doing PrincessesJust because you're a princesses doesn't necessarily mean you're the brightest crayon in the package. Marrying wrong can have it's serious disadvantages (Lucrezia Borgia). Consorting with the enemy doesn't help your cause either (Sofka Dolgorouky). You just have to hope that your stupid decisions will pay off in the end (Sarah Winnemucca). Otherwise, you're just another muddied name in the history book (Malinche). The I-Do-What-I Want Princesses These princesses just don't give a damn about anything. It doesn't matter if they're cross-dressing (Christina of Sweden), hoodwinking an entire nation into thinking you're a real, true princesses (Caraboo), or dying your hair pink and going the punk princess route (Gloria von Thurn und Taxis), they do what they want whether anyone likes it or not. Because hey, they're royalty. The Sexy-Time Princesses Here's the thing people; if a prince happens to get with a lot of women, he's considered a player and success. If a princess gets with even one man who's not her husband.... she's a whore. Some had to give up their sexy exploits for the sake of their empire (Princess Margaret of England). But that doesn't stop some from trying, to say the least (I'm looking at YOU, Princess Pauline Bonaparte). Let the smexy times begin!!! The Crazy-Ass Princesses As the old saying goes, there's one in every family. It probably doesn't help that most of the European royals married within the family, making the chance for insanity even higher. But since nobody listened to common sense back then, bad things were bound to happen. Some mental illnesses were caused by this inbreeding (Princess Alexandra Amelie of Bavaria); others were caused by plain old vanity (Elisabeth of Austria and her famous meat masks). Some weren't mad, but they were portrayed that way (Juana of Spain); others were justifiably insane (Elizabeth of Bathory and her slaughter in her quest to look younger). Either way, these are the princesses that if you ever encountered them, you'd back them up into a room a quickly lock the door. Being a princess can be hard (and possibly deadly) work. But it can also be FABULOUS.

  • Diana
    2019-03-23 06:56

    Behaving badly is an understatement in this history book. There are princesses who ran off with lovers, those who tried to usurp thrones, a few who would have been better rulers than their siblings, some who were mad and a few who were said to be mad but weren't. There were some what weren't actual royalty but did a good job at pretending to be, and fooled quite a few of the upper class while doing it. I enjoyed it and can't wait to add a copy to my library.

  • Keira Daisy
    2019-03-07 11:20

    Her zaman masalların orijinallerine takıntım olmuştur. Bu kitap hikaye tadında gerçekleri anlatıyor. Bize prenseslerin sonsuza kadar mutlu yaşamadıklarını anlatan çok güzel bir biyografi kitabı. Bunun yanında biraz kurgusallığa kaçtığını unutmamak gerekir, kendi görüşlerine de ufakta olsa yer vermiş yazar.

  • Jen Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ
    2019-03-13 09:20

    This was a Goodreads' Giveaway win and as many of you that are reading understand require a review.The positive:I thought this was an interesting book featuring various women from different time periods and cultures. I enjoyed learning a bit about the histories of the few women that were unknown to me. I also enjoyed the comparisons to other women of the period to provide a fuller perspective of the particular women showcased in a chapter. The weakness:In some segments of the book the tone was negative, sometimes quite pessimistic (yes, I know the title of the book), but it didn't add to the story and reduced the history's objectivity.Overall:A broad stroke to histories of women that may be unknown to wider audiences.

  • Danielle
    2019-03-06 10:55

    Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages ReviewsAn absolutely fascinating collection of “royal” women, though the title is a serious misnomer. This book actually collects empresses, khans, ranis, commoners posing as royals, and yes, some princesses. Many of them didn’t behave badly, just differently from the cultural norms of the time, though some were certainly wicked, (there are sections for usurpers and schemers, along with the floozies, partiers, madwomen, warriors, and survivors.) Sections are arranged chronologically, with each chapter serving as a mini biography of an individual woman who fits the section header.Especially in the first chapters, the book features a lot of lesser known stories, mostly centered around women of color. This was extremely exciting, though a little concerning that there weren’t many modern examples. My favorite was Empress Wu and the effects of the patriarchy and revisionist history on her legacy. (In a similar vein, I also enjoyed the dissection of Lucrezia Borgia as a victim of the patriarchy and not the “slutty poisoner” her family’s enemies have tried to paint her as.) Additionally, Malinche and Sarah Winnemucca’s stories are heartbreaking and worryingly similar, despite being “traitors” to their indigenous peoples more than 300 years apart.Some of the stories are little more than retellings of folktales, owed to the lack of real information on the women, while others are richly detailed and studied. I wish my advanced copy had included the bibliography, because I’d really love to see the research that went into the assertion that Juana la Loca was actually quite sane. (Another victim of men’s desire to control her and her lands.)The fake princesses were something I was only vaguely aware of, which made for great fun to study. I’m just old enough to remember the DNA test that proved Franziska Schanzkowska was not the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Her real story is far more interesting and sad than the Don Bluth movie makes it sound. Princess Caraboo was funny in an absurd, people-believed-this? kind of way, though of course it’s also sad that she felt the need to go to such lengths for a place to stay. The Persian mummy is horrifying and happened in entirely too modern an era. Written in a conversational tone, the book is extremely readable and a lot of fun, but it’s obvious that the author doesn’t want to trade in idle gossip. There are no stories of Empresses and their horses, no perpetuating women bathing in blood, (though Elisabeth of Austria may have worn veal,) and it’s clear she doesn’t believe rumors of incest or witchcraft in the Tudor courts. Frankly, it’s the most balanced of the “royal scandals” genre that I’ve encountered.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-12 10:18

    I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars, because it was lacking. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it- but I feel like I would much rather read longer biographies on most of these women, especially ones like Alfhild, Wu Zetian, Lakshmibai, and Roxolana. I also feel like the title isn't very accurate- most of these women weren't 'bad', but either sexually liberated, mad, or self centered. Yes, some of them were maybe not the best, most pristine women, but most weren't evil. They were complex, opinionated women, usually oppressed by the patriarchy of the times. I think a better title would have been "Princesses of Note", or "Princesses with Either a Mind of their Own, or not Given a Mind of their Own". Some of these stories were quite tragic, actually- especially those about women with mental illnesses or being locked up. I think the biggest takeaway from this book I'll have is getting to learn more about some of these women- in more than just snippets that felt a bit judgmental at times.

  • Cynthia
    2019-03-23 07:04

    This book would be really good for a high school student needing an historical subject about which to write. There are wonderful snippets of information about a good number of girls and women who became leaders in their time. It's just the manner in which the information is presented that bothered me. The tone is flippant. It tries too hard to be hip. The author goes out of her way to try and sound cool... but the language just comes across as forced and strained to me. Example: referring to a subject's mother as "on her way to Crazytown." Perhaps if I were 40 years younger, I might enjoy the book more. Then again, I'd probably have been even more annoyed by it than I am. I do have to say that I have found a number of people I'd like to know more about. And I do thank the author for that.

  • Cameron
    2019-03-17 06:12

    I really didn't want this book to end but still. It was a good book and super amazing what these bad ass princesses did in their time.

  • Stephanie
    2019-02-27 05:09

    3.5 stars. If I had any notions of becoming a princess, they would certainly have dispelled with reading this book. While I didn't need the opening soapbox to know that being a princess isn't what Disney cracks it up to be, I don't think I realized how bad some of these born princesses had it. Setting legends aside, Isabella of France was married off to King Edward II of England at the age of 12. He was 24 - and very much in love with a man. Lucrezia of Italy was married off to three different men by the age of 22. It's no wonder she had major family issues. Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon's younger sister? Totally obsessed with her appearance, her life just spun out of control. Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's sister, made me the most sad. So much potential, but royal law pretty much screwed her out of any happiness - and her later rebellion didn't help. And Charlotte of Belgium's life was also tragic, refusing to eat because she was afraid she was being poisoned. Even worse was discovering that the truly mad woman lived to be 86 years old. But let's not forget the women who just pretended to be princesses, definitely my favorite parts of this interesting-yet-easy-to-put-down book. I loved the story of the mummy princess that wasn't really a mummy (what a pity we don't know her true identity). And Mary Baker, who convinced people she was really Caraboo, a phony princess from Malaysia. Her story, along with the "six ways to fake princesshood" section, was so pathetic but so entertaining. One of the final stories about Franziska, who pretended to be the lost Russian Princess Anastasia, was also a favorite. But to live that lie for all adulthood? Life must have been really bad before that. But kudos to Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, who married into her title. Although she earned the name "Punk Princess," she totally reinvented herself when her husband died and left her $576 million in debt, teaching herself corporate law to pay it off in a decade, and cleaning up her image - even finding God! I was also quite inspired by the book's final paragraphs about Noor Inayat Khan, the Indian princess heroine of WWII. I am definitely going to look up more about these two women. And I am definitely going to enjoy my simple life (while sometimes living vicariously through Disney characters), waiting for my own happily ever after. And I'm not even mad about it!

  • Kristen Lesperance
    2019-03-11 04:53

    This book had way too many errors in it that could have been fixed if the editing was any good. I don't think I have ever seen a book have so many sentences stop in the middle with a period and then just continue. It was embarrassing. The content of the book was pretty good and I think the author could be pretty funny. I just felt like it was better meant for basic history lovers.

  • Nicole
    2019-02-21 11:05

    This turned out to be much better than I expected and I would definitely recommend it!It's frustrating that the idea of a book about princesses seems, on the surface of it, so...frivolous? This is a great introduction to some very interesting women throughout history who, through knowing about their lives, really add dimension to the "princess" label. While each princess definitely gets more than a cursory look (some going much further in depth than others), it's more of a detailed overview than an in-depth princess encyclopaedia.They don't all get a happy ending (very few do actually), but they are far from all being victims. Most are feisty and rebellious and unconventional. And, being human, all are flawed (some far more than others) despite what high society might have the public believe. Some are arrogant and selfish, some are gross, some are clinically insane, some are tragic, some were pirates for a time, some renounced the crown, some were controlled by relatives, some spent few nights alone or even with the same lover. It was also great to have a few contemporary ones that can now be put into context in my mind. (It would probably be even better for people who are likely to have actually heard of them before whereas my general princess knowledge is sorely lacking.)This book shows a bit of the very real lives lived behind those gilded doors and tries to break the label free of the silly, Disney image of lace and frills and talking animals surrounding a beautiful, delicate, pale woman with no agency who is to be seen but not heard.Cassandra Campbell did a fantastic job narrating, but I wonder if it might work best as coffee table book to dip into every so often rather than just a block of stories from history because I just listened to the whole thing as a stream of stories and, while I enjoyed it and learned a lot, I feel like it would be nice to be able to more easily flip through the princesses and re-read certain ones on a whim. (Which is not to say that's not at all possible with the audiobook as it is very well marked in terms of chapters, but it would be so much easier with a hard copy.)3.5 stars plus half a star for the desire to revisit some of the stories in future.

  • dianne
    2019-03-11 07:19

    i have read many books about bizarre royalty / 1%-ers because history is so much better than fiction (who could make up Catherine Radziwill?). Consistently, the insular world of the very very rich leads to unconscionable rot and abuse, expensive pestilence, punitive misanthropy. Books which focus on the limitless foibles and excesses of the rarefied classes are usually humourously entertaining, filled with schadenfreude and tiny biopics that are devoid of much background (i.e. "Royal Babylon"). This book is a cut above, as the author tries to actually treat these princesses as humans. She points out that spending hours on your hair may not be crazy if your appearance is all you have control of. Many, if not most, of these women had little control over their lives; minimal freedom, few options. They were often not much more than expensively dressed and bejeweled chattel. McRobbie includes enough background to put their wacky behaviour in context. When viewed through the pinhole existence they lived & combined with centuries of inbreeding - she makes some of their choices almost understandable, if still not sensible.i just read "White Mischief", another historical look at life among those born with absurd wealth and no expectations; these, racist, spectacularly loathsome reprobates. i'm confused & saddened that, having finally rid ourselves (largely) of inherited, unmerited titles and power - the system we plebes lived under for centuries - we are blithely encouraging its return.In the majority of countries currently, the rich are getting MUCH richer and the middle class is melting into poverty. The chance of rising out of poverty via merit in the USA is becoming less and less possible, even conceivable.Well, with books like this, at least we know what to expect.

  • Morgan
    2019-03-10 10:21

    While this book doesn't limit itself to "real stories" at least in terms of ones with a basis in historical record/documents, it was still an entertaining read. Or listen. I might rate it higher just due to the fact that the narrator did a great job conveying a little of her opinion on the matter at hand along with only reading the story, just from the inflections of her voice. It was clear when she thought treatment of one of these women was some utter bullshit. haha.There were so many who I had not heard of before, and such a variety of times, cultures, and places that it was truly interesting. It's always amazed me how differently women have been treated at different times in history...or at the same time, but in different cultures. I wish there had been more clarity when we were dealing with solely myth/tall tales or the contrast of the myth versus what is actually able to be seen and researched about the women. Some sections did this very well, and others it just sort of fell to the wayside.It's not a dry history text. At times, it reads a little more like celebrity gossip -- sex, betrayal, and just about anything else you'd expect. It's just more accessible to more people which is good. Some of these princesses are truly amazing, and I think a lot of them would be far more inspiring than the Disney Princesses who are more familiar to us. Some pretty badass ladies wore crowns, basically.

  • Mary (BookHounds)
    2019-02-24 04:52

    MY THOUGHTSLOVED ITThis book is a lot of fun and full of information in easily digested takes on princesses through out history. There is no sugar coating these women. Some are hussies, villains, crazy and down-right smart. Most of them are marginalized in some way by men, who sought their power and wealth. Of course, since men historically have written the books on the past, it is hard to find the truth in what these women were actually like. I truly enjoyed the chapter on the mad princesses. It was Princess Juana of Spain that truly struck me as being painted as ill when the men in her life were just going for a power grab.The stories could almost appear in People magazine since they paint these women as very interesting characters that try to get to the meat of the story rather than the glossing over by history. I would love this to be a television series on the History Channel. That would be such a wonderful take. Each week could star a new historical princess from ancient to modern times. And modern times are covered nicely here as well, with Britain's Princess Margaret and Diana noted.

  • Laura (Bookies & Cookies)
    2019-03-10 04:57

    I truly enjoyed this so much! Don't think of this as a "princess" book, but as the actual history behind actual women in history who made what they thought were the best choices for them in their circumstances. Divided up into sections such as Warriors, Usurpers, Schemers, Survivors, Partiers, Floozies, and Madwomen, this book covers over 70 princesses throughout history and across continents. I also finally comprehended how much of history is omitted in the education system, ESPECIALLY about women. Like that Cortes took a native mistress and had a son with him because she chose to be his guide and betray the Aztecs? Or that dozens of women in the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries were imprisoned and isolated because of "madness" due to the royal's own penchant for inbreeding. i could rave about all these women for days, but definitely a "non-boring" nonfiction book.

  • Tracie
    2019-02-27 11:55

    Meh. It was okay although I fear I didn't absorb much if anything from this book. I would like to learn more about a few of these though and recognized several of the women. This book gave us an account of many princesses (and women who were NOT princesses) who did not have so called "fairy tale endings". First of all, I have no idea what in the hell she was trying to argue. I also found this book sloppy, with some spelling errors and princesses that didn't fit into their sections and a commentary that was snarky to a fault, too opinionated, and lacked in depth knowledge (i.e. I felt the author failed to research or look into the big picture). It was also very fluffy and the accounts of these women were too short. And DAMMIT give us some pictures! Not the woodcut things at the beginning of each woman's story.

  • Mia
    2019-03-02 06:54

    Loved the idea, and reasonably enjoyed the stories, though the writing sometimes felt a little too gossipy. I think I valued this more as a starting point to inspire me to go out and research some of these people myself, rather than for the information necessarily that I received from them. I appreciated the author's attempts to see both sides of many of these stories, though a lot of the writing on sexuality and mental illness felt quite removed to me, which made it harder to appreciate. All in all, a fun read, though the concept rather than content was what won it for me.

  • Mjspice
    2019-03-04 04:08

    DNF. I thought this was going to be something like the "Rejected Princesses" blog but seems I was wrong. Honestly though, the condescending tone of the author really turned me off. I get the consumerism part but the whole bit in the beginning about Disney Princesses, Kate Middleton & Barbie "teaching girls to be Princesses" rubbed me the wrong way. Anyhow, I'd rather recommend the above mentioned blog as it's more accessible & well researched than this book.

  • Vicky Marie
    2019-03-23 05:21

    I enjoyed it for the most part. McRobbie doesn't go in depth with the history of the princesses. Rather, she summarizes their stories, making it feel like she is leaving out some information. Seeing as there are tons of princesses I understand that there isn't enough room to go into further detail, or else this book would have been thousands of pages long. It still left me wanting to learn more.

  • Amber Brown
    2019-03-13 05:19

    Unique, fascinating, well-researched. Just not something one can read in a sitting. One or two stories per reading is enough. Very enjoyable and a great gift item!