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The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince Hardcover – Unabridged, December 3, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 219 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Long-lived Queen Victoria had an era named after her, as did her long-waiting heir when he eventually succeeded to the British throne. Edward VII was an absolute style icon and knew how to enjoy a good party and a robust liaison with a pretty—and willing—woman. The term “Edwardian” thus became associated with high fashion and high living. The title of Ridley’s biography of King Edward is appropriate to the popular sense of the monarch, that his life was defined by his many years as the indulged and indulgent Prince of Wales. But significant research stands behind the author’s more judicious understanding of the man, that the “dissipated prince evolved into a model king.” Barred by his mother from any participation in royal duties out of her obsessive conviction that her son was not of sufficiently solid material to follow her on the throne, Bertie turned, in compensation, to hot pursuit of pleasure, garnering a reputation for playing not only hard but even scandalously. Nevertheless, upon the old queen’s demise in 1901 and his own accession, Edward rose to the occasion to be Britain’s first constitutional monarch as we define that role today, modernizing the monarchy and making it stronger. A top-notch royal biography for all active British-history collections. --Brad Hooper

Review

“If [The Heir Apparent] isn’t the definitive life story of this fascinating figure of British history, then nothing ever will be.”The Christian Science Monitor
 
The Heir Apparent is smart, it’s fascinating, it’s sometimes funny, it’s well-documented and it reads like a novel, with Bertie so vivid he nearly leaps from the page, cigars and all.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“I closed The Heir Apparent with admiration and a kind of wry exhilaration.”The Wall Street Journal
 
“Ridley is a serious scholar and historian, who keeps Bertie’s flaws and virtues in a fine balance.”The Boston Globe
 
“Brilliantly entertaining . . . a landmark royal biography.”The Sunday Telegraph
 
“Superb.”The New York Times Book Review

“A top-notch royal biography . . . The title of Ridley’s biography of King Edward is appropriate to the popular sense of the monarch, that his life was defined by his many years as the indulged and indulgent Prince of Wales. But significant research stands behind the author’s more judicious understanding of the man, that the ‘dissipated prince evolved into a model king.’”Booklist (starred review)

“[A] marvelously rich biography of Edward VII . . . Readers both general and specialized will delight in Ridley’s work; it raises the bar for royal biographies to come.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“A highly readable, definitive biography of Queen Victoria’s son, the ‘black sheep of Buckingham Palace,’ who matured into an effective monarch . . . [A] top-notch life of the king . . . There is no shortage of biographies of Edward VII, but this thick, lucid and lively history deserves pride of place on the shelf.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“[A] splendid new biography.”—The Guardian
 
“Profoundly learned and a cracking good read.”—The Spectator
 
“Ridley has written a marvellous biography. Her book is racy and pacy, filled with delicious descriptions of grand Edwardian shooting parties, cutting-edge fashion and, of course, a string of beautiful society women. But she is never trivial, and nor is her Bertie.”—The Mail on Sunday
 
“Ridley’s definitive biography is a remarkable achievement. Entertaining, readable and illuminating, this much-anticipated reappraisal of a fascinating life is a brilliant tour de force.”—Bridlington Free Press
 
“Bertie, as he was universally known, couldn’t do anything without it being commented on and often distorted. Though the gossip columnists had plenty of material to work with, they only told part of the story. [Ridley] does an excellent job of redressing the balance.”—Financial Times
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (December 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400062551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400062553
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's difficult to imagine the time and effort that Jane Ridley devoted to her book The Heir Apparent, a long and painstakingly detailed biography of King Edward VII of England. The author has a career-long commitment to studying the history of Great Britain and its monarchs, and delving into archives that had been untouched for a century or more must have been extremely exciting. The author, I'm sure, found her work especially satisfying since discovery of new documentation was due, in good part, to her efforts to make the biography as accurate and complete as possible. When the portrait that emerged from her decade-long study of this massive collection of forgotten or previously ignored sources came to constitute a substantial revision of long-standing assumptions about the role and importance of Edward VII, I'm certain that Ridley was thrilled. She had created something genuinely new: a picture of early 20th Century England that differed significantly from other interpretations.

The eldest son of long-reigning Queen Victoria, the youthful Edward VII, then known as the Prince of Wales and nicknamed Bertie, showed little promise as a prospective British monarch. Insofar as his future required disciplined intelligence and scholarly cultivation, the transition from the high-sounding but devoid-of-duties Prince of Wales to the demanding role of King in a constitutional monarchy seemed a move that Bertie was sure to bungle. Ignorant and ineffectual monarchs are commonplace throughout European history, but the proud Victoria had hoped to produce something much better.

Ironically, the length of Victoria's reign and her lack of confidence in Bertie both contributed to turning him into a womanizer, hard-luck gambler, world-class glutton, and general purpose do-nothing.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
King Edward VII's reign lasted only 9 years, but it is usually remembered as a sort of Golden Age of British eminence, a time when two-fifths of the world was ruled from London and the seas were dominated by an all powerful Royal Navy. King Edward VII's popular image is well suited for that conception: a large, powerful, domineering man, self-confident and vain, a roue who moved from one mistress to another as well as a statesman who maintained the peace. Jane Ridley's new biography of the King validates many of these conceptions, but with the help of some new material calls others into question.

It is easy to be appalled by the circumstances under which Edward VII spent his boyhood. He was raised under an exhausting and unimaginative regimen which did not suit him, and was continually reminded by his parents Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of how much depended on him and how disappointed they were that he did not live up to their expectations. He might have grown up a bitter and badly warped personality, but instead he became a kindly, if sometimes thoughtless individual who loved fun and games. His mother refused to allow him to play any role in government, meaning that he had to fill his days with amusements. He was married at a young age to the beautiful Princess Alexandra, and he indulged himself with a series of romantic affairs and a number of semi-official mistresses, including Lillie Langtry.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Albert Edward, the future king Edward VII, seemed a most unlikely candidate for a successful monarch. An "heir apparent" for longer than anyone except Prince Charles, he did not ascend the throne until he was fifty-nine. Even his mother, the redoubtable Queen Victoria, thought him an unworthy successor and blamed him for the death of her beloved husband, Albert. Bertie, as he was know to the family, preferred to leave the inhospitable and monastic life of Buckingham Palace to spend time drinking, gambling and enjoying a long series of mistresses. And yet, he proved to be most effective upon becoming king, counting among his successes strengthening the defence of the realm while improving relations with Britain's allies.

In this meticulously researched and very well written history, Ms. Ridley made excellent use of her unrestricted access to royal archives at Windsor Castle. What emerges is not only a delightful biography of Edward, but also an engaging glimpse of the era in which he lived. This is truly living history.
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This is a very well researched book on the life, loves, and tribulations of "Bertie" alias King Edward VII. The author has done a very fine job of searching the diaries, the letters, and pertinent historical events which took place in the late 19th century and early 20th century. However, the book does have some major flaws. The author needs to return to school and study carefully with a skilled grammar educator since the book is loaded with poor grammar. The author and the editor with Random House have allowed poor use in many "run-on" sentences; incorrect usage of the subjunctive mode; poor pronoun usage in that the referent source is confusing; and multiple names for the same person which leaves the reader guessing. These distractions do not destroy the value of the fine research carried out, but do confuse the reader too often and are simply unnecessary. I expect more from an author and the editor who was supposed to properly edit the publication.,
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