Thursday, January 23, 2014

Princesses Behaving Badly

You think you know what a princess is from the fairy tales you read growing up. They might have a difficult time when they are young, but it always ends with them meeting their prince, and living happily ever after. Reality is much different from the popular stories we read, see on television, or in the movies. If you thought the Grimm brothers stories were, well, on the grim side, just wait until you read how some of these real princesses end up.

The book is divided into seven sections: Warriors, Usurpers, Schemers, Survivors, Partiers, Floozies, and Madwomen. As can be seen from the different sections, princesses were chosen for this book that did not fit the typical fairy tale. Also, these are short stories about the princesses, so be prepared to look for another book if you want more details.

I won a copy from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program*, which was exciting, because this was a book I was looking forward to reading. A few of my favorite tales were: Alfhild: The Princess Who Turned Pirate, Olga Of Kiev: The Princess Who Slaughtered Her Way To Sainthood, and Caraboo, The Phony Princess Who Hoodwinked England. It is unclear how much of Alfhild's story is true. From the fourth century CE, all we know about her is what the historian Saxo decided to record, and he does not explain why she turns to piracy. Olga was born in 890 CE. After her husband was killed she went and got her revenge. Caraboo aka Mary Baker was born in England in 1817. She passed herself off as a foreign princess for a few months.

I liked the messages this book gave. Life is not what we read in the fairy tales, especially for a princess. Also, rather than emulate a flat character as told in watered down children's stories, emulate the strong women that actually existed. Their lives might not be perfect, but many of them are worth learning from. Just be careful if you choose one from this book to emulate.

Princesses Behaving Badly combined my love of fairy tales with my love of history. I loved seeing which princesses would be included, and what the author would tell about them. There were some I have read about before, but there were also some I cannot wait to learn more about. If you like learning about interesting women from history, or if you want an alternative to the typical fairy tale, I highly recommend this book.

* LibraryThing does not require a review of the books won in their program. If a winner is inclined to review a book, a positive or negative review is not stipulated, only an honest review. Winning this book does not change my review. It merely provides me with the chance to read the book sooner than I would have been able to, or to read a book I might not have gotten to as quickly.

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