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The Strangest Family by Janice Hadlow
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The Strangest Family

by Janice Hadlow

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"What happened in America between 1775 and 1783 genuinely changed the world. It also almost destroyed George III's kingship, and left him with a sense of failure from which he never fully recovered."

"The crisis also struck a blow at George's carefully constructed vision of kingship, demonstrating the limitations of its effectiveness when faced with a direct confrontation. His inability to deliver an outcome that he believed was both right and just instilled in him an anger and unhappiness as acute as anything felt by his wife.
"The sense of having failed in an endeavor which was central to his conception of himself as a man and a monarch was hard enough to bear; but George's frustration was made more acute by the prolonged misery of the experience itself."


My motivation for picking up the book was, mostly, to gain a better understanding and knowledge of King George III and the era of the American Revolution. But I didn't want the American point of view of things. I've got that available in spades. What I wanted was to learn more about what was happening on the British side of events. All we are ever really taught here is that George III was a tyrant and mad.

This book was fascinating and engrossing from the start. I did need to keep a page marker on the family tree at first in order to refer back to it frequently but before long I had all the Georges, their wives, children and siblings sorted.

I definitely gained the insight I was hoping for and then some.
King George had very strong, guiding beliefs about how a royal family should live and behave. He was trying to reform the idea of kingship during his reign. His ideals and values, while sometimes resulted in good, to often imposed obligations and pressures on his family at too high a cost.
His daughters, I feel, suffered the most. If anyone needs help distinguishing between the fairy tale life of a princess and the reality they need only read about King George's daughters. Though his sons did not fare much better, they at least had a bit more freedom.

Reading about King George's recurring bouts of illness and madness and the effect it had on his family, especially the queen, was rather saddening at times.

Janice Hadlow has the wonderful, and sometimes rare, ability to write a non fiction book of over 600 pages that never feels bogged down or boring. ( )
1 vote Jeanettelth | Jan 5, 2018 |
Great read. Learnt a lot about King George III. He is well known for his mental illness but not much else which is undeserved. He did lose America under his reign but that was also the hand of God which no man could have stopped. King George was a very godly man as was his wife which makes him unique compared to other Kings. ( )
  carmenp1 | Nov 10, 2017 |
She tells a great story but is free and easy with sources. She characterizes letters that don't exist and describes George II's family in ways completely unlike other biographers whose work I do trust. This isn't so much a review as a reminder to myself not to put much credence into this author. ( )
1 vote susanbooks | Jul 14, 2017 |
As a student of the 18th century, I didn't really expect this book to cover new territory for me. But Hadlow combines thorough research with a clean narrative style that made this an engrossing peek into the private lives of the Georgian court. George III was an unhappy child, raised in a way that we would today consider neglectful or abusive. But, he was determined to raise his own children in a different atmosphere, one of mutual affection and respect between husband and wife and love and nurturing for their children. In many ways he succeeded, although his position as sovereign, the unsettling times of revolution and economic and class disruption of the time of his reign, and his own mental illness to some degree interfered with his ideal plan. Hadlow's writing is masterful, sorting and organizing a wide variety of sources in a way that makes the story readable and compelling. I would highly recommend this to readers new to the era and experts alike. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
Hadlow presents a family history of the Hanoverian kings and queens of England from George I to William IV, but focusing on George III and his immediate, and very large, family. This is in no sense a political or big picture history; most of the major political and historical events of the times - the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars - pass by with scarcely a mention. Instead it looks at the personal lives and, most intently, at the personal relationships of George III, his Queen Charlotte and their 15 children, from George, Prince of Wales, born in 1762 through to Princess Amelia, born in 1783.

This is an absolutely fascinating book, full of detail and insight into these lives, written as erudite history, but always with an immediacy and liveliness that keeps us turning the page. The detail revealed here allows us to see into the most intimate moments of these lives and to live with them their evolving relations ships with each other and, when able, with friends and lovers. Reading this book has all the fascination and horror of watching a slow-motion car crash. The story is so full of monstrous acts, perpetrated intentionally or not, that we cannot bear to see these real people struggling to understand their predicaments, but we cannot turn away, we are so drawn into their world. If this was soap opera, no one would believe it.

Hadlow has done a magnificent job in opening up these lives and this work will be the gold standard of Hanoverian history in particular, but of personal history in general, for many years to come. ( )
  pierthinker | Apr 22, 2015 |
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"It had not been common in their family to live well together, but... he was determined to live well with all his family."
— George III to the Duke of Cumberland (1760)
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When Queen Charlotte was asked by the artist, botanist and diarist Mrs Delany why she had appointed the writer Fanny Burney to the post of assistant dresser in her household, she answered with characteristic clarity: 'I was led to think of Miss Burner first by her books, then by seeing her, then by hearing how much she was loved by her friends, but chiefly by her friendship for you.'
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805096566, Hardcover)

"A masterpiece....[T]his heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner."—Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

The surprising, deliciously dramatic, and ultimately heartbreaking story of King George III’s radical pursuit of happiness in his private life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children

In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow’s groundbreaking and entertaining new biography, he is another character altogether—compelling and relatable.

He was the first of Britain’s three Hanoverian kings to be born in England, the first to identify as native of the nation he ruled. But this was far from the only difference between him and his predecessors. Neither of the previous Georges was faithful to his wife, nor to his mistresses. Both hated their own sons. And, overall, their children were angry, jealous, and disaffected schemers, whose palace shenanigans kick off Hadlow's juicy narrative and also made their lives unhappy ones.

Pained by his childhood amid this cruel and feuding family, George came to the throne aspiring to be a new kind of king—a force for moral good. And to be that new kind of king, he had to be a new kind of man. Against his irresistibly awful family background—of brutal royal intrigue, infidelity, and betrayal—George fervently pursued a radical domestic dream: he would have a faithful marriage and raise loving, educated, and resilient children.

The struggle of King George—along with his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their 15 children—to pursue a passion for family will surprise history buffs and delight a broad swath of biography readers and royal watchers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:15 -0400)

"The surprising, deliciously dramatic, and ultimately heartbreaking story of King George III's radical pursuit of happiness in his private life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children. In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow's groundbreaking and entertaining new biography, he is another character altogether--compelling and relatable. He was the first of Britain's three Hanoverian kings to be born in England, the first to identify as native of the nation he ruled. But this was far from the only difference between him and his predecessors. Neither of the previous Georges was faithful to his wife, nor to his mistresses. Both hated their own sons. And, overall, their children were angry, jealous, and disaffected schemers, whose palace shenanigans kick off Hadlow's juicy narrative and also made their lives unhappy ones. Pained by his childhood amid this cruel and feuding family, George came to the throne aspiring to be a new kind of king--a force for moral good. And to be that new kind of king, he had to be a new kind of man. Against his irresistibly awful family background--of brutal royal intrigue, infidelity, and betrayal--George fervently pursued a radical domestic dream: he would have a faithful marriage and raise loving, educated, and resilient children.The struggle of King George--along with his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their 15 children--to pursue a passion for family will surprise history buffs and delight a broad swath of biography readers and royal watchers. "-- "In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow's groundbreaking and entertaining new biography, he is another character altogether--compelling and relatable. He was the first of Britain's three Hanoverian kings to be born in England, the first to identify as native of the nation he ruled. But this was far from the only difference between him and his predecessors. Neither of the previous Georges was faithful to his wife, nor to his mistresses. Both hated their own sons. And, overall, their children were angry, jealous, and disaffected schemers, whose palace shenanigans kick off Hadlow's juicy narrative and also made their lives unhappy ones. Pained by his childhood amid this cruel and feuding family, George came to the throne aspiring to be a new kind of king--a force for moral good. And to be that new kind of king, he had to be a new kind of man. Against his irresistibly awful family background--of brutal royal intrigue, infidelity, and betrayal--George fervently pursued a radical domestic dream: he would have a faithful marriage and raise loving, educated, and resilient children. The struggle of King George--along with his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their 15 children--to pursue a passion for family will surprise history buffs and delight a broad swath of biography readers and royal watchers"--… (more)

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