George V: Never a Dull Moment

Jane Ridley.. Harper, $35 (560p) ISBN 978-0-06-256749-9
Biographer Ridley (The Heir Apparent) delivers a richly detailed yet somewhat ponderous portrait of King George V (1865–1936). Focusing more on the era than the monarch, Ridley delves into world events including the Irish Home Rule crisis, the 1917 Russian Revolution, and the rapidly deteriorating geopolitical situation that resulted in WWI. She claims that George took to heart journalist Walter Bagehot's dictum that the sovereign of a constitutional monarchy "possessed three rights: the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn," and limited his wartime duties to "troop inspections, hospital visits, factory visits and medal pinning"—mundane yet important work that helped make the monarchy "seem more accessible than ever before." The narrative picks up when Ridley's focus shifts to supporting players, including Queen Mary, who is brought to vivid life as her tepid romance with George evolves into "a true partnership and a strong marriage." Though Ridley's expert understanding of the era's political and cultural tumults shines through, it's not enough to lift this biography above its admirable yet bland subject. Readers will agree with George V's assistant private secretary that he was "dull, beyond dispute." (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/13/2021
Release date: 01/01/2022
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 752 pages - 978-0-06-256751-2
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