This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,-- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. ~~William Shakespeare, Richard III

Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Review: A Treasury of Royal Scandals

A Treasury of Royal Scandals, Michael Farquhar
2.5 roses

As the title suggests, this is quite an entertaining look at centuries of royal scandals. I was really looking forward to this one as I always find the scandalous stories quite amusing. I can't say I was completely disappointed as it was an entertaining read but I really felt this just came up a bit short. No one should go into this thinking it is going to be a serious read, it is, after all, a collection of scandalous stories!

The tabloid style of writing and some humorous chapter titles (The Case of the Purloined Penis, How to Make a Bloody Mary, Swimming in a Shallow Gene Pool, etc) are part of what make this an amusing read. The stories themselves are incredible and seem funnier because they are true. Farquhar covers many different time periods, from the horrific behavior of Roman emperors to the marital escapades of Henry VIII to Catherine the Great's intimate relationships. There is very little on 20th century royalty as the author states that he doesn't think the actions of current royalty can hold a candle to what has happened in the past. Because of the huge scope he is trying to cover in this book most of the stories are quite short and condensed with very little detail. There are also some interesting and scandalous royals left out. What can get very confusing is that the book is divided up more by subject than by time period or location so there are some royals that are mentioned several times throughout. There is some historical fact mixed in but for the most part the book consists of the numerous theories and rumors surrounding all the various royals, though I suppose the fact that there have been so many rumors about royalty is what makes them so darned interesting.

This was a very easy read and I finished it quickly. I'm not sure why I felt let down after reading it but perhaps I was looking for a bit more detail with some of the stories. If you are looking for a light, fun read and are not too concerned with overwhelming historical accuracy and research, this book is probably for you. Those well read in the various time periods may find it amusing if they can overlook some of the inaccuracy.


  1. Thanks for the info, I'll think I'll skip it and stick with the ones on my shelf by Leslie Carroll.

  2. I think I enjoyed Leslie Carroll's books more as she doesn't try to cover so many people so her sections have more detail to them.