In my nonfiction debut, Royal Affairs, the focus was on the mistresses involved in some of history’s most scandalous royal liaisons. But how did the wives feel? What did their royal marriages look like (and feel like) from the inside, how did they get there, and what happened along the way?
Notorious Royal Marriages places the focus on the queens and kings-the events of their political and domestic lives, their road to the altar, and their relationship with their kids. And while some of the same couples featured in Royal Affairs are also profiled in Notorious Royal Marriages I found, as I revisited those relationships that on occasion my initial opinion of the players altered as I read even more about them and as I viewed the royal partnership from another angle.
For example, my sympathies somewhat decreased for Maria Fitzherbert, the secret wife of the future George IV, when I discovered that she was pretty vain and had a bad temper, hardly the maligned modest violet of many portrayals. Conversely, my heart went out to a woman I had previously disdained, George’s first cousin (and official wife) the smelly, indiscreet Caroline of Brunswick. And when I revisited the royal romance of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, I found Wallis Simpson to be even more objectionable that I’d already thought her to be.
I also discovered that in the nine hundred or so years of history that form the canvas for Notorious Royal Marriages, a genuine love match is as rare as a red diamond.
To say that researching and writing this book kept me busy is an understatement. During the nine months that I had to deliver the manuscript I don’t remember sleeping much. I dreamed about Catherine de Medici, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Queen Victoria; the various Henrys (two, eight, and Henri II) invaded my thoughts during Pilates; and Mary, Queen of Scots, Ferdinand and Isabella and Joanna the Mad were my mental companions as I rode pillion across the country on my husband’s motorcycle.
I get a tremendous thrill out of making history come alive. To me the subject is anything but dry and dusty. In fact, it’s fun, not to mention incredibly sexy.