Although we do seem to be privy to a bit too many royal dramas nowadays via the media (in my view), I do love watching The Crown or reading royal historical fiction. I even love a good historical royal documentary. So when I was invited to take part in the blog tour of An Indiscreet Princess, the story of Princess Louise, the rebellious, determined and artistic daughter of Queen Victoria, I jumped at the chance. Especially as I didn’t really know that much about Princess Louise.
Written by Georgie Blalock, and described as ‘a novel of Queen Victoria’s defiant daughter,’ I discovered this novel to be rich in captivating detail as it is a compelling story of forbidden love. Yet it is so much more than that as it depicts the complex relationship between a dominating mother and a very determined daughter as Louise strives to carve out a life for herself within the moral hypocrisy of her mother’s royal court.
An Indiscreet Princess opens some years after the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband. Louise is on the brink of her twentieth birthday and lost patience of ‘the perpetual gloom of Mama’s ceaseless mourning‘ long ago. Louise adored her father but as an intelligent women blessed with the common touch, she understands the devastating impact her mother’s ‘morbid fascination‘ with grief and wallowing is having on herself, her siblings and the country. I never realised until reading this book how Queen Victoria’s choice to practically hide away in grief for many, many years threatened the survival of the monarchy.
Louise often rebels against her mother, especially in her determination to cultivate her artistic talent. As a talented sculptor, Louise secures a place at the National Art Training School. Although it might not seem that shocking today, in 1868 Louise was a royal trailblazer as she was the first royal to attend school.
At art school, Louise secretly goes against not only royal convenient, but also the moral conventions of Victorian society. As well as shockingly learning to sculpt nude models, she also develops friendships with bohemian artists. Yet one particular ‘friendship’ has a significant impact on Louise’s life; her friendship with the famed sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm, who also happens to be her teacher.
I really admire Louise, especially as she lives a lot of her life in secret, defying convention and her mother’s oppressive rule to to keep Edgar in her life. Louise also has to learn the power of manipulation. But the personal sacrifices she makes to live her authentic self are heart breaking.
I found the portrayal of Queen Victoria absolutely fascinating. She is presented as stubborn, oppressive, vain and also jealous. Although I am aware that An Indiscreet Princess is historical fiction, I have watched a few documentaries about Queen Victoria’s relationship with her children, so I wasn’t surprised by this portrayal. However I was captivated by the extent of these personal traits, as well as the Queen’s hypocrisy. However Georgie Blalock also clearly portrays the mutual love, respect and admiration that mother and daughter hold for each other.
Yes, An Indiscreet Princess is a traditional love story. Yet the traditional love story is secondary to the powerful depiction of the mother and daughter relationship explored in this compelling narrative.
Released in the UK on Thursday 27 October, 2022, An Indiscreet Princess will be available in paperback soon. However if you fancy discovering this rich story via eBook or Audio, you can now as it was released last month on 27 September
Thank you to Tracy Fenton on behalf of Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour of this fascinating read. Thank you also to WmMorrow/Harper360 for my gifted advance copy.
To follow the blog tour of this rich historical narrative and read the book reviews from my fellow bloggers also on the tour, please see below.