Review: The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

22875451

(source: goodreads)

After I finished watching Netflix’s drama series The Crown I was in the mood for more royalty centred media. So I picked up The Royal We, a truly excellent book written by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan of the fashion blog GoFugYourself. The Royal We is loosely inspired by the Prince William and Kate Middleton’s romance. The authors made the story their own by creating an alternate-universe Royal Family and having Bex be American and also somewhat less poised and media-savvy than Kate.

The edited Royal Family tree that is so essential to the world-building and feel of the novel was clearly a labour of love. Cocks and Morgan chose to keep Queen Victoria, but had her heir Albert Edward die in an assassination attempt prior to ascending the throne. In fact, Albert Edward was subject of a failed assassination attempt in real life! Albert Edward’s son Albert Victor, who in real life died of pneumonia aged twenty-eight, survives in The Royal We and thus a new Royal Family develops, the House of Lyons. This change works well to distance the reader from the idea that this is a thinly veiled retelling of Kate and Will’s relationship, allowing us to instead approach Becks and Nick on their own terms as characters whose story explores the genuine and serious problems that attend dating a royal. However, the characters who form the House of Lyons have clear parallels in the real-life House of Windsor: Prince Nicholas has a younger brother, Freddie, who is a charming scamp much like Prince Harry, their father Prince Richard has his parallel in Prince Charles, and so on, which keeps the reader from feeling overwhelmed by the large cast of characters in play.

I loved this book. It did well at getting in the usual joys of romance novels, following the growth of the female lead, her relationship with the leading man, and her relationship with her friends. But the exploration of what it would really mean to marry into royalty was so interesting to me, particularly given my initial feelings about Prince Philip’s portrayal in the Crown. The reality that Bex has to confront is that she is unlikely to be unable to have a normal job, that her life will be dictated by the Royal Family right up to what she wears and what events she attends, and that some of her friendships will be strained by the expectation of royal favours. Added to that, for most of the book Bex has to struggle with the press breathing down her neck and judging her.

Practically every character in this book felt rounded and believable, which is NOT something you see in most books. I loved Cilla and Gaz, their banter, their support for Bex and for Nick both separately and as a couple, and their own slow-burn background romance. Anyone would be lucky to have such great friends in real life! Bex herself is a significant portion textbook Romantic Comedy heroine, but likeable with it, and her struggles are portrayed in such an accessible way that it is impossible not to sympathise with her. The early scene where Bex runs into Nick coming out of the bathroom and drops her tampax is not quite redeemed by Bea’s analysis that the situation is ‘trite’ and Bex’s assertion that ‘it sounds like a quirky meet-awkward from act one of a romantic comedy, but it was mortifying’. When taken as part of the larger framework of Bex and Nick’s relationship though, it fits: their university relationship is based on them bonding as two ordinary individuals, both students, both occasionally getting drunk, both saying stupid things, and bonding over a love of terrible TV. Cocks and Morgan dwell long enough in the university period to make us believe in and root for the relationship before skipping forward to post-graduation and the pressures the couple faces in the outside world.

To sum up, this is an enjoyable romance populated by complex, skilfully drawn characters and supported by excellent research and world-building. 7/10

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s