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The first truly candid portrait of George V and Mary -- the Queen's grandparents and the creators of the modern monarchy
The lasting reputation of George V is for dullness. He was a crack shot, and an outstanding stamp collector, but that's about it. The flamboyance and hedonism of his father, Edward VII, defined an era whose influence and magnetism is still felt today. The contrast between the two could hardly be greater.
But is that really all there was to King George, a monarch who faced a series of crises thought to be the most testing faced by any twentieth-century British sovereign? As Tommy Lascelles, one of George's most senior advisors, put it: 'He was dull, beyond dispute -- but my God, his reign never had a dull moment.'
Jane Ridley is one of very finest royal biographers, celebrated for her immaculate research, highly entertaining style and piercing insights. How this supposedly limited man managed to steer the crown through so many perils and adapt a Victorian institution to the modern world is a great story in itself. But with it comes a riveting portrait of a royal marriage and family life that challenges myths and lets us see George, Mary and their children more fully and clearly than ever before.
George V was the Queen's grandfather, and Jane Ridley takes right into the drawing rooms Elizabeth was born into. She brings us a royal family and world not long vanished, and not so far from our own.
© Jane Ridley 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021
Most biographers would shy away from the notoriously dull George V. Not so Ridley, whose biography of the stamp-collecting, bird-shooting king is top-notch
Jane Ridley's George V is so sparklingly incisive about both the king and Queen Mary that it almost counts as a double biography. The pheasant-shooting, stamp-collecting, moderating monarch and his bejewelled, shopaholic consort are beautifully portrayed in all their complexities
Superb . . . a perfectly candid portrait of our present Queen's grandfather: demythologised, certainly, and with spades called spades, but not trivialised, and not denied full credit for the massive amount he achieved . . . Ridley's convincing thesis [is] that George V was the true begetter of modern constitutional monarchy . . . this book makes it clear we were lucky to have him
There have been few monarchs quite as discreet and inscrutable as George V . . . There's much to enjoy here about George's nerdy, hypochondriacal and rather humourless character. Yet, as Ridley portrays with great fairness, he somehow managed to be a king loved and revered by the people . . . Ridley has a wonderful ability to push the story along, luring us with salient details . . . riveting . . . Never a dull paragraph
A 21st-century [biography] was overdue . . . and nobody could do it better than the immensely experienced Jane Ridley . . . The Windsors have always been emotionally handicapped, and in this respect George V was their prize exhibit
A magnificent new life -- wonderfully funny, from its winning subtitle onwards, and full of human sympathy and understanding . . . an evocative and touching portrait of a surprisingly impressive man
The best royal biography since James Pope-Hennessy's Queen Mary (1959) . . . rivetingly interesting . . . sheds an entirely new light on both George V and his consort . . . Jane Ridley persuades us that their tactful handling of the many crises of the reign paved the way for the stable constitutional monarchy that persists to this day
Jane Ridley is a consummate storyteller and superb researcher. With a funny, analytical, sympathetic touch she both conveys the immediacy of history and invests those elusive, long-ago events and mysterious, long-dead people with a humanity recognisable to us all