Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sex with Kings, by Eleanor Herman

The subtitle of this book is “500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge.” It's about royal mistresses -- doesn’t it sound like it would be good? But it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, and I ended up just skimming it. To the author’s credit, it’s very well researched and properly documented, but the footnotes make it seem extra dry. Chapters are organized by topics, and include titles such as “Cuckold to the King -- the Mistress’s Husband” and “The Fruits of Sin -- Royal Bastards.” While this seems like a good idea, it ends up fragmenting the story of any individual mistress into several chapters, and you never get the whole story of one relationship or one king in a single narrative.

Ever since I was 14, and read Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor, I have been interested in royal mistresses, especially the Countess of Castlemaine, the mistress of Charles II. I would have enjoyed the book more if it were organized by mistress instead of by theme. I also feel obligated to direct your attention to the jacket photo of the author, decked out in full Elizabethan regalia complete with crown, but with no accompanying explanation.

You can read more about it here.
(Book 7, 2006)


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