Although it was illegal, secret, and against the express command of his famously mad father, King George IV of England married twice – once for duty and once for love. While Caroline of Brunswick eventually became his lawful queen, it was the beautiful Maria Fitzherbert, recognized as his wife by the Catholic Church but not by the laws of England, who claimed his heart.
My interest in Maria Fitzherbert and her relationship with King George IV was sparked after reading a biography about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, a close friend of King George IV, in which Georgiana expresses her distaste for the King’s Catholic wife. I thought that name sounded familiar and, in fact, I’ve already read The Secret Wife of King George IV before.
The novel is a fictional account of the woman who would never be Queen, but as most of the dialog and scenes are pure fiction it’s overall plot is based on fact. In some areas of the book, Haeger’s writings scream romance novel, and while she is no Philippa Gregory, I thought Haeger did a comparable job of staying true to the setting and times.
Her characters are more than just a secret wife and a prince. They have emotions; they don’t act how you would expect them to. The romance novel aspects distracted from the historical aspect, but the story as a whole is very nicely written and I enjoyed reading Haegar’s novel.
- Haeger, Diane. The Secret Wife of King George IV. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. 372 pgs. ISBN: 0312244207 Source: Library.
Book Cover © St. Martin’s Press. Retrieved: January 16, 2009.