- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Random House UK (September 28, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1844138453
- ISBN-13: 978-1844138456
- Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Charles & Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair Hardcover – September 28, 2007
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Praise for Philip and Elizabeth:
“The writer who got closest to the human truth about our long-serving senior royals.”
“BOOK OF THE YEAR ... Riveting, gossipy and touching.”
–Mail on Sunday
“Could this be the best book ever written about the Royal Family? ... A masterpiece.”
–Sunday Express --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Gyles Brandreth's is a varied career, from his role as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury in John Major's government to Children's publisher with Andre Deutsch. Brandreth's Breaking the Code: Westminster Diaries has been described as 'by far the best political diary of recent years, far more perceptive and revealing than Alan Clarke's' Times. His last book, Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage, published by Century, was a Sunday Times bestseller. He lives with his family in London.
Top customer reviews
She did do all the upper class things like go to finishing school in Switzerland, but afterwards, Camilla went to the University of London program in Paris to study French and French literature for a year. That wasn't a typical move for upper class girls so it says a lot about her intellect and made me realize she really does have the sort of background and interests that would naturally attract someone like Prince Charles. I enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
It took perseverance.
The flashes of insight are scattered through a narrative that begins with the monarchs of England and their mistresses from about the year dot. Or 736. Or something. And meanders down to the present day with endless details about the ancestors and descendants of kings, princesses, mistresses, near-mistresses, cousins, courtiers, generals, admirals, and probably a few of their horses.
Reading this book is like a Sunday afternoon visit with a gossipy old uncle who knows everybody - and their dogs and cats. He rambles and rummages among a lot of boring history, can't resist going off on tangents, and yet if you listen long enough he does eventually dish the dirt. When you leave, you have learned something new, and you feel you've cheered up the old boy by engaging in the visit. Even if most of the begats and ranks and titles went in one ear and out the other.
I agree with another reviewer: this book cries out for some charts to help the reader follow all of that genealogy described in such excruciating detail.
This isn't a fast read. Nor is it uncritically admiring of anyone, including Charles and Camilla. On the subject of Charles' ill-starred first marriage, it's nowhere near as comprehensive and gifted as Tina Brown's The Diana Chronicles. But Brandreth leaves us with a portrait of Prince Charles as an intelligent, sensitive, dutiful boy who didn't respond as well as his sturdier sister to the often harsh regimens of his school days. Who grew into a dutiful and complex young man, still oddly diffident with women, and working hard to fulfill the duties of the unique lifelong role he was born into. Although it ended in tears - and worse - he began his first marriage in good faith, retained some affection and concern for Diana long after the marriage died, and was always an involved father.
The portrait of Camilla is less complete, but then she wasn't famous from birth so information is harder to obtain. Brandreth presents her as a naturally happy person who likes to have fun. She's intelligent but not an intellectual, and is devoted to horses, hunting, gardening, and her close-knit family. And, for much of her life, to the Prince of Wales. Camilla grew up in a close and happy family, and her stability, warmth and optimism no doubt play a strong counterpoint to some of Charles' more skittish tendencies. She sounds like a good person to have as a friend: ready to have fun, loyal, and unlikely to make a fuss about a little mud tracked into the house.
In Camilla, from the beginning, Charles found his soulmate. Brandreth eventually gives us a portrait of a deep and strong relationship that has survived against all odds. Whether you like these two people or not, they clearly belong together. I wonder what would have happened if they could have married each other first.
As a "portrait of a love affair" this book is cluttered with too much information, both irrelevant and intimate. I didn't need the transcript of the entire "Camillagate" phone call, but it's in there. And I don't care who begat whom in 14th Century Britain. I'll take it as read that kings have historically married for duty and taken mistresses for everything else. Some historical perspective is helpful, but Brandreth piles on too much detail.
You might while away a long plane flight with this book, but better also pack something else to read when you get fed up with Brandreth's incessant fussing and fidgeting.