The Decline and Fall of the House of Windsor by Donald Spoto, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Decline and Fall of the House of Windsor

The Decline and Fall of the House of Windsor

by Donald Spoto
     
 

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The New York Times bestselling biographer of Marilyn Monroe and Alfred Hitchcock tells all about the world's most fascinating royal family. From the days of Queen Victoria to the current troubled reign, the entire Windsor tapestry, threaded with crisis and haunting scandal, unfolds here. Presented with candor, wit and compassion, this is a surprising portrait of a

Overview

The New York Times bestselling biographer of Marilyn Monroe and Alfred Hitchcock tells all about the world's most fascinating royal family. From the days of Queen Victoria to the current troubled reign, the entire Windsor tapestry, threaded with crisis and haunting scandal, unfolds here. Presented with candor, wit and compassion, this is a surprising portrait of a family that, although royal, is just as troubled as any other. HC: Simon & Schuster

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At first sight it seems inconceivable that another word could usefully be written about the endlessly dissected House of Windsor, but Spoto, biographer of Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe, has skillfully assembled what could be entitled ``Windsors 101.'' They are all here: from Victoria, overweight matriarch, to Diana, bulimic princess. Finally the sequence is clear: all those Edwards and Georges sorted out neatly and laid before us, each with his idiosyncrasies. And, clearly, one of their strengths is their women. Spoto is on firm ground here. He enjoys profiling strong women. His Victoria is the standard clich of imperial entitlement, but he also devotes a lot of space to Edward VII's beautiful and gracious consort, Queen Alexandra, who supported her erratic and unfaithful husband even to the point of inviting his mistress, Alice Keppel, to console him on his deathbed. Queen Mary, wife of his successor, George V, was devoted to first the monarchy and then her husband; even her wardrobe was ``frozen in time at the express command of the king,'' causing her to go down in history clad always in stiff, formal gowns and with piled-up hair. Sensibly, Spoto devotes less attention to the current generation of wayward Windsors. He points out, almost wistfully, that with a divorced sister (Margaret), a divorced and remarried daughter (Anne), and two divorced or separated sons (Charles and Andrew), Elizabeth II, as head of the Church of England, which does not officially countenance divorce, is having a hard time maintaining the mystique of the royalty. The earlier Windsors were unfaithful, extravagant and intemperate, but at least they did it out of the public eye. If the dreaded media hadn't put Princess Di on the front of almost every publication in the world, however, would there be an international audience for this entertaining and informative tour of a dynasty that named itself after its biggest castle? Photos. First serial to Cosmopolitan; BOMC alternate; author tour. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Spoto's (A Passion for Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor, HarperCollins, 1993) well-written and extremely readable look at the British royal family begins with the life of Queen Victoria and ends with a portrait of Prince Charles and the younger royals. The author has clearly done his research, and his conclusion, that the young Windsors themselves are causing the downfall of the royal family, will not surprise anyone. It's interesting to note that two of the people Spoto portrays more favorably than one might have expected are Wallis Simpson and Princess Margaret. This is a fascinating read, sure to be talked about. If your library has Andrew Morton's books, as well as Anthony Holden's Tarnished Crown (Putnam, 1993) or Nigel Dempster's Behind Palace Doors (Random, 1993), this is not an absolutely necessary purchase. Spoto's work offers less analysis and dwells a bit more on scandals than does A.N. Wilson's The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor (LJ 6/15/93). Still, given the seemingly insatiable demand, Spoto's book will undoubtedly be requested. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15.95.]-Elizabeth Mellett, Brookline P.L., Mass.
Brad Hooper
Spoto is a popular biographer of celebrities, mostly in the entertainment field, and it is the evolution of the Windsor family as celebrities that he chronicles here. He begins his detail-laden account in the previous century with Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert; however, it's not until the reign of George V and Queen Mary (grandparents of the present queen) that we see royalty being made true celebrities by the increased media attention on the official "and" unofficial activities of the Windsor family members. In his march through Windsor history all the way up to the queen's divorce-prone progeny, Spoto not only puts a face to a name but a personality as well. Especially memorable are the portraits of Queen Mary, the twentieth-century's most outstanding example of what a straight-backed, regal personage should be; her son Edward VIII and the American divorcee he gave up the throne to marry; and the current Queen Mother, widow of the late George VI and darling grandmother to the entire nation (but it's her steely side we're most eager to read about here). The future of the monarchy is in doubt, as Spoto concludes that the "new generation of Windsors . . . seem incapable of living for anything but their own celebrity." A book that's bound to be popular.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684815442
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
09/05/1995
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
6.39(w) x 9.51(h) x 1.08(d)

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