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The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline    by Flora Fraser order for
Unruly Queen
by Flora Fraser
Order:  USA  Can
Anchor, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Flora Fraser tells us in The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline that 'When the Prince Regent (who would later become King George IV) separated privately from Princess Caroline in 1796, they had been together for less than a year.' What a tragic life Caroline then led for many years, mortifying her royal in-laws with her unruly behavior.

Caroline came from different stock than the staid and proper English. Born and brought up in Brunswick (later part of Germany), she viewed life from a different angle. At that time, women were mere chattel and were expected to unquestioningly obey their husbands. The Prince Regent couldn't understand a woman of Caroline's caliber. He wanted to live life on his own terms, taking whomever he chose to his bed, although he expected his wife to live a chaste life and to obey his orders, no matter how rigid they might be. He met his match in Caroline and they spent over twenty years at odds. If he could catch her out in adultery, she could be charged with high treason and put to death! The same behavior from him carried no onus.

Caroline spent many years touring Europe with a retinue of followers and servants her court. Her story is brilliantly told by Flora Fraser in The Unruly Queen. Though Caroline ultimately became queen, she never had a coronation. Meticulous research tells the story of a woman in a union that held no love or compassion, fighting to avoid being a victim. Caroline is a tragic figure who nevertheless lived a fascinating life with little regard for the mores of the times or the feelings of others. Fraser has managed to take her history, with all its dates and facts, and turn it all into a fascinating tale of a life that took a wrong turn early on and never got back on track. This compelling story is hard to put down.

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