July 15, 2015

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan


This month's book for Tell Me What to Read was The Royal We, and the one I was secretly most excited about.

Four separate people mentioned this one when I asked for recommendations, and when it also appeared on Modern Mrs. Darcy's summer reading guide, I didn't need any more encouragement.

I'm not really a celebrity follower, but I'll admit to a soft spot in my heart for the royal family. I've heard this book called Kate Middleton fan fiction, which led me to believe it'd be a slightly fictionalized version of Prince William and Kate's courtship, but this is a pretty different version.

You've got the non-royalty girl and the older of the two princes, with an unpopular father and an aging Queen, plus all the paparazzi circus, but the similarities seem to end there.

In this version, the girl in question is Bex Porter, an American exchange student who comes to Oxford for a semester and ends up living in the same building as Prince Nicholas of Wales. She meets Nick when she first arrives and he takes her luggage to her room, but doesn't recognize him and is horrified later to discover it was him because of a joke she made about the British Monarchy when they passed a bunch of portraits of past kings and queens.

At first, she doesn't see much of him - he's fairly private and often gone, and she's engaged in her own studies, but when she bumps into him on a morning run a month or two after arriving, they strike up a friendship. He's more at ease with her than with most people because she's an American and thus not his future subject, which takes a lot of pressure of him. They begin hanging out, watching terrible television shows together and eating US junk food.

Eventually their relationship takes a turn for the romantic and that's when things really get complicated. For several years, they keep it secret, which starts to wear on Bex - three years is a long time to not have met the family or have your boyfriend even acknowledge you in public.

And then when it does come out, there's the media frenzy which just about kills Nick. Things are also tricky due to Bex's twin sister who is obsessed with the idea of being related to the royal family and not particularly interested in anything remotely like discretion. And Nick puts a lot of pressure on Bex to keep her twin under control.

Then come the problems of making an American girl into future queen material which makes Bex feel like she's become a shell of her real self, and it's pretty clear that most of the royal family isn't wild about her, polished version or not. And, like any person who becomes a celebrity of any level, there's the part that looks amazing and fun, and the part of being famous that is a complete drag, like everyone wanting something from you and not being able to go to the grocery store for a gallon of milk.

Also, once your royal relationship goes public, you're under intense pressure to make your relationship work (which, of course, makes it more difficult to make that relationship work).

The book starts the day before the wedding and then moves backward eight years to when they first meet, which means that there is the looming question throughout the book of whether or not the wedding is actually going to go through and also why is the status of the wedding even in question?

It's just hard not to really like Nick and Bex; they're both delightful and sometimes so unbelievably irritating and sometimes wise and sometimes complete idiots. Their character development is really fun, I think. I also really loved Bex's dad and Nick's younger brother Freddie - if they'd been the only four characters in the book, I could have been perfectly happy.

What really makes this book is the hilarious writing. There is just one funny line after another and Nick and Bex and Bex's father are particularly witty. But there isn't that feeling of "the writer was really trying to be funny" here, and I definitely appreciated that. As soon as I finished the book, I went back to read all the amusing bits again. Which ended up being a good half of the book.

A few people mentioned that it could have been edited down a good 50-100 pages, and I almost never agree with those kinds of statements because if I like a book, I want it as long as possible. But this book? Yeah. It could have used a trim. For me, the problem was that there is a pretty lengthy list of supporting characters and so much space about many of them that I didn't find all that compelling. I would have preferred the story to have stuck to Nick and Bex and their families. But, surprisingly, no one asked me for my opinion during the editing phase (or at any phase, for that matter).

Let the record state that this is definitely an adult chick-lit novel. I'd say it's a step further than Sophie Kinsella or Liane Moriarty, so if you find those books too much for you, I wouldn't recommend this. I didn't think it was over the top, but there is definitely some swearing and sex (and holy so much drinking, which I don't find offensive, but I did fear for some livers there).

All in all, this was just a really fun summer read, and it was hard for me to pull myself away to be social at a family reunion last weekend.

And if you read it, I'd love to hear what you thought since I know many of you have read it. And if you DIDN'T like it, I really want to hear what you thought, since the only things I've heard so far have been positive.

Copy checked out from my local library. 

15 comments:

  1. I actually found this book to be BORING. I got half way through and lost all interest in finishing. I will agree there were some funny lines, but mostly there were just too many supporting characters that added nothing to the story and Nick's waffling and "poor me, I am so misunderstood" attitude was annoying to the extreme. I decided I didn't like any of the characters enough to plod on through. I was actually quite surprised since I do have a pretty high tolerance for mediocre books.

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  2. This book is on my TBR list. I don't follow the real royal family, but I do love the movie The Prince and Me with Julia Styles.

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  3. I liked it when I was reading it, but then I finished and realized I actually found it rather sad in a way. I loved the writing and the style, but the character of Bex for me was a real disappointment. She is presented before she gets involved with Nick as smart and adventurous and a little wild.... and then she gets involved with him, takes a job she doesn't like to stay near him, and waits years for him to even acknowledge her to his family. Her character becomes rather desperate and flat. I wanted her to move to Rome or somewhere and become a famous artist, not just wait around for a guy to make up his mind :)

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  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! One of my favorites so far this year. I absolutely flew through it.

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  5. This book had my vote in your Tell Me What to Read post, so I'm thrilled to hear that you liked it! I felt the same way - I thought the writing was really humorous and smart, and the characters were so endearing (and that Freddie was just a delight). Such a great, fun storyline and a world that I was sad to leave (I'm a sucker for stories set in England, too). I was just thinking the other day how much I'd love for them to write a sequel... how fun would that be?

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  6. I agree with Lady Susan's comments! Pretty boring, and ultimately disappointing. For me, it was just so contrived, and I didn't like any of the characters. I have a very hard time "giving up" on books, but with this one I made it to page 130 or so and then decided to give up!

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  7. I really enjoyed this, one of my favorite new books I've read this year! I'll admit to following the real British royal family (via the news/blogs, not in person!) and being a little fascinated by the real Will & Kate. And I love books set in London. Basically my perfect book!

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  8. I didn't remember you were reading this this month! I was on the library waiting list for a couple months and just finished it yesterday (plowing through all 450 pages in 3 days). I loved it. It was pretty weird for me, too, since I live fairly close to Muscatine. I kept trying to figure out which of the authors is from there (so far...neither? Maybe one of them have grandparents who live there or something?)

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  9. I am actually in the middle of reading this due to your recent recommendation on Instagram and love it!

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  10. I've read this book at least three times and I loved it. It is pretty racy and I'm not a huge fan of that sort of stuff but the story was great. And I just realized that makes me sound like a hypocrite for saying that but still reading... that's another thought for another day. :)

    I do have to wonder how much of the story is based in fact, so much of what we see from the real royal family is certainly scripted so perhaps the real Nick and Bex (Will and Kate) are a bit more like those portrayed in the book....

    I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  11. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I'm on the wait list for it and can't wait!

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  12. I've requested this one from the library, but I've still got a while until my hold comes through. I've heard such good things, I'm looking forward to reading it!

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  13. I was on the wait list for this book quite awhile at the library, and then it arrived late last week. Happily, I went to pick it up only to find it missing:( I think a lot of people are excited to read it--someone so excited they apparently snuck off. The librarian put me at the top of the list for a copy, so I'm hoping to really get the chance to read it soon.

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  14. Not sure if blogger ate my first comment! When I first started reading it, I thought it was fluff, but by a quarter in, I was loving it! The characters were very believable (I agree that Freddie was a delight and I did not like Lacy). When I finished, I would like to have started it again to pick up on things I missed reading the first time, but the library would not let me renew (so many others want to read it). Thanks for the recommendation! I loved June's book pick too!

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  15. Since you're the millionth person to enjoy this book, I went ahead and put it on my hold list. I expected it to be one that I'd have to wait four months for, but there's only one person ahead of me. Hurray!

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