Blood Royal: The Story of the Spencers and the Royals

John Pearson, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $29.95 (292p) ISBN 978-0-00-255934-8
This is a lively if superficial overview of the lives and times of Princess Diana's illustrious family through 500 years, from the Tudor age to the present. Gaining and losing vast fortunes; making shrewd, status-enhancing marriages; and jockeying for social and political power are the recurring themes of this family saga, whose subjects rose from being wealthy farmers during the reign of Henry VII to ranking among the most prosperous and prominent families in the land by the 18th century, only to see both their wealth and their status decline throughout the Victorian and contemporary eras--until Diana, third daughter of the eighth earl, made her ""fairy-tale"" marriage into the royal family. Including such notables as Sarah Churchill and the infamous 18th-century duchess of Marlborough, whose carefully calculated scheming made the family one of the richest in the land, the Spencer clan is replete with colorful characters. That Princess Diana herself drew strength from this ancestral heritage, as Pearson claims, is undoubtable; more dubious, however, are his repeated assertions that various facets of Diana's own character are direct inheritances from one ancestor or another. This suggestion that biology is destiny culminates in the proposition--based on the observation that Princes William and Harry look more like their mother than their father--that the Spencer genes have superseded those of the Windsors and will be instrumental in shaping the future of the British monarchy. While this claim that the Spencer family history yields vital insights into the destinies of Diana and her children seems somewhat overstated, those who admire the late princess of Wales and those who are drawn to accounts of English dynastic history will find the story of the Spencers engrossing. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999
Release date: 09/01/1999
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