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Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria Paperback – February 7, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312324243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312324247
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #321,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This lively page-turner covers the 100-year period between the birth of Queen Maud of Norway in 1869 and the death of Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain in 1969. Suffering only from the inevitable repetition and melodramatic foreshadowing caused by the five-in-one setup of this biography, Gelardi's book features liberal quotations from fascinating correspondence and diaries that reveal both the intimate and the public faces of the women featured. Tales of the girls' romances and weddings spice up the early pages, followed by descriptions of marital relationships, childbirths and the early seeds of conflict-both personal and political. World War I and the Bolshevik revolution dominate the third part of the book, after which Gelardi describes the poignant twilight years of the four granddaughters who lived past the end of the Great War. Lurking behind these stories is the legacy of Queen Victoria, the cruelty of Kaiser Wilhelm in Germany and the specter of hemophilia. It is Marie, "Missy," who plays the favorite in the book, just as she did as Queen of Romania. More than the others, she inherited her grandmother's will, charisma, generosity and political acumen, along with the ability to adapt to changing times and circumstances. The granddaughters were "raised in an era where responsibility, commitment, sacrifice and duty before self were elevated as the highest ideals and embodied admirably by their grandmother," but the era that encompassed their rule would see the decline in monarchy throughout Europe as citizens of various countries came to believe that it was not the divine will of God that appointed their leaders, but the will-wise or foolish-of the people.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Engaging and lively...highly recommended.” ---Library Journal

 

“Solemn, sometimes frisky, but always captivating.” ---Kirkus Reviews

 

“A diligent researcher who gets her facts straight and documents them properly with footnotes...Born to Rule has much interest in it and can serve as an introduction to these four queens and an empress.” ---The Washington Times

Customer Reviews

It's history written in an easy enjoyable style.
Marion Riani
There's a shallowness to the writing, and it has numerous little errors of fact that grate on my nerves.
SusieQ
Gelardi does a wonderful job in weaving the lives of these five women together.
Annette Ranald

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 70 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Born to Rule is a joint biography of five royal consorts, all first cousins and granddaughters of Queen Victoria, who reigned over their countries during the early to mid twentieth century. Although Maud of Norway (called Harry in the family), Sophie of Greece, Victoria Eugenie of Spain (Ena), Alexandra of Russia (Alix), and Marie of Rumania (Missy) were cousins who knew each other fairly well, their personalities and ultimate fates were very different.

Most readers will be at least somewhat familiar with Alix's story, which has been told and retold many times on paper and on film, but Ena's struggles with the same hereditary disease of hemophilia, which she passed on to at least two of her sons, are less well known than those of her Russian cousin. Similarly, while the story of Alix's overthrow in the 1917 Revolution and her subsequent death with her family has been described at length, few readers will be as familiar with Ena's long exile from Spain and Sophie's on again off again career as Queen of Greece. Harry's great success as the democratically chosen monarch of Norway and Missy's extensive struggles on behalf of Rumania deserve to be remembered as well.

One of the most interesting achievements of this joint biography are the numerous parallels and comparisons that can be drawn between the five women. We can see, for example, how Harry's natural modesty and informality made the Norwegians fall in love with her, and how Missy's beauty and elegance endeared her to the Rumanians. On the other hand, Sophie, Alix, and Ena's shyness and natural reserve were not well received by their husband's subjects and helped lead to the downfalls of the monarchies in their countries. The cousins' origins outside of the countries they eventually ruled were also worthy of comparison.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Arturo Beeche on April 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As a specialist royalty bookseller and publisher of a royalty journal, I receive many royalty-themed books for review every year. Many are middle of the road productions on the same over-studied topics. Then and again comes a book such Ms. Gelardi's, a marvelous first book by a tremendously promising author.

I am not a stranger to the story of Queen Victoria's five granddaughters who sat on European thrones. However, Ms. Gelardi's research brought many episodes to light and considerably expanded my own knowledge about these amazing women. Not only did she research extensively, but she was fortunate enough to be able to personally interview children and grandchildren of these royal ladies. That alone makes BORN TO RULE a must have for anyone interested in European royalty. Five huge stars must be granted to Ms. Gelardi...KUDOS!

Arturo Beéche @ books@eurohistory.com
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Ponette on March 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must-have for any fan of royalty. It profiles the lives of five granddaughters of Queen Victoria, four of whom suffered greatly in the name of duty, either by their spouse's infidelity, the betrayal by their children or the instability of their country. The life and death of the tragic Alexandra is, of course, well known, but this chronicles four other queens as well -- Sophie of Greece, Maud of Norway, Marie of Roumania and Victoria Eugenie of Spain -- who may not be so well known. The effect Queen Victoria had on all these women could not be underestimated. Julia Gelardi did a great job bringing all these women to life. I can't recommend this book enough.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Frost77 on April 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
The unifying factor in this work is the fact that these five women, all granddaughters of Queen Victoria, became queens of the countries they married into. Some chose their husbands for love, others for duty.

While this work is ambitious in the sense that Gelardi wants to discuss these women comparitively, it is somewhat hard to follow as she jumps from cousin to cousin within the chapters - with very little to unify other than a phrase to transition the reader over.

She spends very little time with Alexandra, who, in death, becomes notorious. I did like that she shows how these women, and their influence, have bled into the current political structure of modern Europe.

It is a well researched book, but it is also hard to follow.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Leftwich on June 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a good book to read if you are extremely familar with Queen Victoria. There are two problems with this book, (1) The author did not focus or give enough information about Queen Maud's life as she did with the other grandaughters. (2) It's lacking information in certain places.

Here are some books I would recommended before/after reading this book:

(1)Northern Crowns: The Kings of Modern Scandinavia by John Van Der Kiste.

(2)Victoria's Daughters by Jerrold M. Packard.

(3) An Uncommon Woman - The Empress Frederick: Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm by Hannah Pakula.

(4)Queen Victoria in Her Letters and Journals by Christopher Hibbert.

(5)Ask Sir James: Sir James Reid, Personal Physician to Queen Victoria and Physician-In-Ordinary to Three Monarchs
by Michaela Reid.

(6)A Royal Family, The Story of Christain IX and His European Desendants by Anna Lerche and Marcus Mandal (Very hard to find, there are only two places I know where you can find an English translation of this book, Denmark and the Majesty Magazine website; however, I do not know if they are still offering this book on their website).
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More About the Author

Julia P. Gelardi is an independent historian, currently specializing in European royal history mainly encompassing the Victorian era to the present. Julia grew up in Florida and has lived in Miami, London, Toronto, Phoenix, Vancouver, B.C. and now resides in Minnesota. After receiving her M.A. in History from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Julia has has embarked on a writing career with a focus on royalty. Julia's researches have taken to her to several countries including England, France, Italy and Switzerland. Her books are Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria (St. Martin's Press, 2005), In Triumph's Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters and the Price They Paid for Glory (St. Martin's Press, 2008) and From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847-1928 (St. Martin's Press, 2011).

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