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The Princess, The King and The Anarchist Paperback – October 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: Helen Marx Books; Reprint edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193352720X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933527208
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,779,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* When deciding to base a novel on an actual historical event, writers customarily choose a time frame of a few years, a month, or at least a week. But just a few hours? Nevertheless, Pagani uses that narrow window of time with intensity and ingenuity. On May 31, 1906, in the Spanish capital of Madrid, young Spanish king Alfonso XIII married the British princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. The newlyweds, en route to the royal palace and a celebratory banquet, are made targets of an assassination attempt: an anarchist’s bomb is tossed in their direction, and although it leaves the pair physically unharmed, footmen and bystanders are gruesomely killed. In approximately 100 pages, this novel, on the short list for France’s Prix du Premier Roman, brings to the reader’s rapt attention what occupied the thoughts of the three major participants in the short drama: the 20-year-old handsome and popular king; his 19-year-old bride, unfamiliar with both her new husband and his kingdom; and the man who tried to kill them as part of the Europe-wide anarchist program to end royal lives. The king and queen have on their minds their imminent sexual congress: he already experienced, she with limited knowledge but curious. The anarchist’s thoughts are concerned with the care with which he must carry out his project. At once chilly and beautiful, this novel brilliantly explores new ground for fiction. --Brad Hooper

About the Author

Robert Pagani, seventy-four years old, has been an interpreter for the United Nations. He is the author of a number of plays performed or read on Radio Suisse Romande. THE PRINCESS, THE KING AND THE ANARCHIST was shortlisted for the distinguished Prix du Premier Roman.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amy Henry TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Translated from the French by Helen Marx

The Princess, The King, and the Anarchist is a combination of fairy tale and history book, with all the necessary components for an intriguing novel. The book has an almost mathematical precision to it. For some reason, I kept getting a sense of the number three throughout the prose. First are the obvious three characters in the title, who are revealed by their first-person voices in the text. Second are the three levels of society represented: the monarchy (the king and princess), the masses who attend the wedding procession "young and old, peasants with roughened cheeks, darkened by the harsh Spanish sun", and the outsider who wants to destroy the monarchy. Finally, there's the significant thread of the past, present, and future that is woven throughout the narrative.

The story itself is based on the actual events of a 1906 attempt on the life of Spain's Alfonso XIII as his wedding procession winds through Madrid. He's just married England's Mary Battenberg, who has converted to Catholicism and now bears the name "Queen Maria Eugenia". The setting and characters are accurate, but the events are imagined. However, this historical fiction novel reveals truths about the turbulence of Spain's monarchy as well as the resentment building within the nation.

The King is a worldly playboy. He spends the ride in the royal procession trying to analyze if he chose the right bride; after all, he had a bevy of female royals from all over Western Europe (eight in all) to choose from. He observes the crowds, but from a distance, with no visible feeling towards the multitudes turned out to see the big day. He points out to his bride the Ministry of Finance building, laughingly noting that he's never bothered to visit it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
In the early twentieth century, being royal seemed to place a target on your head. "The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist" tells the story of the union of King Alfonso XIII and Princess Maria Eugenia as they marry in 1906 and find themselves the target of an assassination plot during their celebration. Written by Swiss author Robert Pagani and expertly translated by Helen Marx, "The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist" is a fine volume for world fiction collections.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lima VINE VOICE on January 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The basic premise of historical fiction is to take a historic event, and enhance the event by infusing it with the drama that fiction typically generates. Most authors in this genre tend to emphasize the history and lightly use fiction in order to give the reader a "center" which grounds them while the author makes their points through the fiction. But, in the case of The Princess, The King, and the Anarchist, Robert Pagani uses the history as a thin veneer for his fiction. Though there is nothing wrong with that approach, Pagani also doesn't use the other tool necessary to give the reader a "center": relatable characters. All of the main characters are thoroughly unlikable. The king shows absolutely no interest in his subjects that were killed as part of the assassination attempt, instead focusing on the wedding dinner and his upcoming sexual activities. The assassin is so focused on his mission that he, too, shares the king's level of interest in the innocent bystanders that were killed. The princess/queen is preoccupied with her bodily functions, and, as is seen at the end of the book, is a firm believer that the ends justify the means. Unfortunately, the book's brevity works against itself, as Pagani is unable/unwilling to introduce another character as a moral counterpoint to the three main characters.

Is Pagani trying to show how absolute power and privilege corrupt to the point that jealousy, manifested through violence, from those who don't have those attributes is inevitable? Is he trying to show that the princess'/queen's pragmatic answer to one of the book's central problems does more to damage the monarchy than the assassin's bomb? Is he pointing out that obsession of any kind creates a blindness that is ultimately counterproductive to the obsession's cause?
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