I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Sure, most people over Disney age don't believe that being a princess is really all it's cracked up to be. At the same time, however, we kind of do -- witness the world's fascination with Kate Middleton, the pretty commoner who married Britain's Prince William to become Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
Princesses Behaving Badly is an effort to inject a little bit of reality into the princess fantasy, to make sure that the fairy tale doesn't become the expectation. The best way to do that is to talk about real life princesses. Historical princess have been capable of great things as well as horrible things; they've made stupid decisions and bad mistakes, loved the wrong people or too many people or not enough people. They are women who lied, murdered, used sex as a weapon, or dressed like a man to hold on to power. They weren't afraid to get a little dirt, or blood, on their hands. These women were human, but the word princess, along with its myriad connotations, often glosses over that humanity. Their stories may begin once upon a time, but they don't always end happily ever after.
The stories of these 30 historical princesses from across the world are illustrated by award-winning artist Douglas Smith, perhaps best known for his fantastic illustrations for Gregory Maguire's Wicked books. (source)
If you're looking for an interesting historical biography that will keep you entertained and isn't too difficult to read, look no further. Written by feminist journalist Lisa Rodriguez McRobbie, Princesses Behaving Badly focuses on dozens of real life princesses who didn't live up to the Disney stereotypes. Many of these princesses felt trapped by the responsibilities associated by their titles and had very tragic stories; others found ways to live exactly as they desired, but had to sacrifice their reputations in the process.
Each chapter of the book focuses on a different princesses and the chapters are divided into sections focusing on different themes, such as "warriors," "schemers," and "floozies." McRobbie was able to grab my attention at the beginning of each chapter and maintained it by using lots of humor and snarkiness to tell each woman's story.
I read this book fairly quickly, but I think that when I go back and re-read it eventually, I'll focus on one chapter a day. There were so many fascinating princesses in this book, but because I read the book so quickly, I don't think the weight of their actions and experiences really sunk in for me as it should have. Each princess featured in this book has an amazing story, and each one is different. Some of them are princesses that the average reader might recognize, but many of them aren't princesses that are regularly talked about, and it was really cool to learn about them.
I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in women's history. It really is a great and entertaining read. It struck me as well-researched, but is not overly serious as many great history books are. This is written to not only educate readers, but also to entertain them, and I don't think that it will disappoint you.