Flora Fraser is the author of the bestselling biographies of Emma Hamilton, Beloved Emma, and Queen Caroline, The Unruly Queen, and the forthcoming Princesses: The Daughters of George III. She lives in London with her husband and three children.
The predicament of a rejected royal spouse denied her crown by an openly adulterous husband on grounds of her own flagrant adultery has contemporary resonances. The adventures of Queen Caroline have often been recounted, but Fraser (Emma, Lady Hamilton) has done more archival homework than past biographers, and her version will intrigue more than Charles-and-Di voyeurs. Caroline's introduction to adultery, the queen herself contended, occurred between the conjugal sheets. The foppish future George IV was already illegally wed to a Roman Catholic widow, Maria Fitzherbert. Once the royal couple‘first cousins‘conceived a legal heiress, only days into the marriage, the Prince of Wales abandoned his wife for his mistresses. Sexually frustrated, socially snubbed and parsimoniously financed, his unsophisticated and uneducated bride from Brunswick lapsed into reckless and disreputable conduct, "a depraved woman but an injured wife," in the words of a Windsor observer. Meanness incarnate, Prince George tried for two decades and more to shed her, even after their only child, Charlotte, died in childbirth, leaving no heirs except George's dissolute brothers, none of whom had legal children. The suit for divorce, played out in Parliament, is a page-turner. Although the biography opens melodramatically with Coronation Day, it slips into lackluster prose to record the sordid beginnings of the relationship, gaining momentum only as the determined Caroline plays the game of getting even with one of the most unsavory occupants of the British throne. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
A first-class study ... excellent - Niall Ferguson, Sunday TelegraphSplendid ... her book does justice to a fascinating woman who was tragic, brave, likeable, humorous, and indeed, unruly - Richard Acton, SpectatorA brilliantly uncovered and grotesque tale - Clare Tomalin, Independent on SundayWell written, thoroughly enjoyable ... required reading - Sarah Bradford, Daily TelegraphWritten with elegance, wit and a narrative zest that novelists might envy - Economist
Fraser (Emma, Lady Hamilton, LJ 4/1/87) used records in the Royal Archives and other manuscript collections for this biography of King George IV's unwanted wife. Deserted by him after less than half a year of marriage, given very little opportunity to see her only child, and, after the regency, left with little social life, Caroline moved to the Continent and made the best life she could for herself. After George's accession, she was goaded into returning to England by foreign dignitaries and some deceitful Englishmen with whom she dealt. There she was tried for adultery and narrowly escaped conviction. She died suddenly the next year. Fraser's work shows an interest in her subject; an evenness of treatment throughout the book keeps the end from seeming rushed, adding to the overall enjoyment of this fine work. Recommended for general readers.-Marilyn K. Dailey, Natrona Cty. P.L., Casper, Wyo.