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Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di    by Kris Waldherr order for
Doomed Queens
by Kris Waldherr
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2008 (2008)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I think of all the times I have railed at the world for not having given me the life I thought I deserved. I have just finished reading Doomed Queens by Kris Waldherr. Now I thank the world for giving me the life I do have and for not having looked at me to be a queen. Thank heavens, I escaped that fate.

From Athaliah in biblical times to Diana Spencer in recent history, that title should not have been the most sought after position to hold. Strangling, poisoning, drowning, starvation, beheading, nunneries, and other fates too awful to contemplate have been the bane of monarchies. Intermarriage among royal families produced some pitiful creatures who were nonetheless royal and thus to be revered. Doomed Queens is a morbid tale of queens whose kings tired of them or desired an heir to their throne, or possibly simply were taken with a different pair of fluttering eyelashes.

What lifts this little book well above a fact-filled tome is the wonderful and engaging humor of the author. She deals with the queens and their fates with an irreverence which somehow brings the thread of mayhem that runs through this startling account to a different level. Jane Grey said, 'I assure you, the time hath been so odious to me I long for nothing as much as death'. While 'A queen who is not regent ought, under these circumstances, to remain passive and prepare to die,' is attributed to Marie Antoinette. I prefer the less passive Mary Stuart's thought, 'No more tears now; I will think upon revenge.' Go for it, girl!

Not all of the queens highlighted deserved their fate, although some of them were lucky to live as long as they did. Seems to me, most of them lived a rather boring life, simply arm candy for a husband, the good old king. Others did their best to gain the power they thought they had been destined for from birth. Doomed Queens is an absorbing read and the author's illustrations alone are worth the price of this book.

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