Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life by Sally Bedell Smith

31663877

(Caidyn)

4/5

I received an ARC of this book from Random House and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Prince Charles has never been my favorite royal, if I had to have one. Probably because I’ve read too many tabloid articles about him and I’m quite partial to Will and Kate. (Sorry.) But, this book helped me see him in context. One review I read summed Charles up perfectly: “the man at the center of the book is not its most interesting character.” He’s been constantly overshadowed his whole life. His mother, Princess Diana, the Camilla scandal, his children.

Smith definitely biased, just as she was in Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch. The way she portrays Charles is as a passionate man who made some mistakes and his true ideas are overshadowed by them and others. When you think of Prince Charles, it’s not typically his opinions on the environment, Jung, or reincarnation that comes up, is it? It’s things about Princess Diana, his decades long affair with Camilla, or his lovely children.

While Smith is biased, I thought she was very even-handed with displaying his life. She talked very often about his passions, as she put it. Environment, Jung, reincarnation, alternative medicine, architecture. Those are the big ones in his life. He enjoyed upsetting people and the old view of things, very unlike his mother. In chapters, Smith bounced back and forth between his personal life with family and friends to his charities.

Overall, this book is good. It’s very long. It’s about 640 pages. 70% of it is actually about Charles’ life. The rest is notes on the text. So, if you can read something that long about a life that’s been very well documented, I’d suggest it. Smith has a goal to highlight the parts of his life that aren’t as well known as Charles (or Smith) would like.

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