[Review] Sophia – Mother of Kings: The Finest Queen Britain Never Had by Catherine Curzon

Sophia, Electress of Hanover, was born to greatness. Granddaughter of James I and mother to George I, she was perhaps the finest queen that Britain never had.

As daughter of Frederick V of the Palatinate and Elizabeth Stuart, Sophia emerged from an impoverished, exiled childhood as the Winter Princess, a young woman of sparky intelligence, cutting wit and admirable determination. Once courted by Charles II, Sophia eventually gave her heart to Ernest Augustus, at whose side she became the first Electress of Hanover and the mother of the first Georgian king of Great Britain.

Sophia: Mother of Kings, brings this remarkable woman and her tumultuous era vividly to life. In a world where battles raged across the continent and courtiers fought behind closed doors, Sophia kept the home fires burning. Through personal tragedy and public triumph, Sophia raised a family, survived illness, miscarriage, and accusations of conspiracy, and missed out on the British throne by a matter of weeks.

Sophia of Hanover became the mother of one of the most glittering dynasties the world has ever known. From the House of Stuart to the House of Hanover, this is the story of her remarkable life.

This isn’t an era that I would usually read about – I tend to find myself stuck in the Italian Renaissance or the Crusades – but I found myself intrigued by this title. So when Pen and Sword kindly offered me a copy to review, I happily agreed. I certainly was NOT disappointed.

This book, written by historian and author Catherine Curzon, tells the story of Sophia of Hanover, daughter of the the exiled King and Queen of Bohemia and grandaughter of the executed Charles I of England. This woman is often overlooked in history and eclipsed by her far more famous relatives – but she certainly shouldn’t have been. Upon reading this book it quickly becomes clear that Sophia had a very important part to play and, had she lived just a little longer, could well have been Queen of England. Thanks to the fact that Queen Anne of England had no living children, her Hanoverian relatives were placed firmly in the order of succession, in order to avoid having another Catholic monarch on the throne. Queen Anne outlived her Great-Aunt and so, upon her death, the crown of England passed to Sophia’s son George, Elector of Hannover.

The writing style of this work really impressed me – oftentimes books on this era can be incredibly dry, but Curzon made it exciting and interesting. Her chatty narrative pulled me in from the first page and just made me want to keep reading to find out what the heroine, Sophia, would get up to next. You can tell as you read that the author has heavily researched Sophia’s life and this is only made clearer by the fantastic referencing. Though it must be said that this book does not read as an academic piece – which in my opinion, makes it all the better. Whilst I love many academic works there are times when they are dry and boring – this book is the furthest thing from that. Rather it is well written and chatty, perfect for both those who know about the era and those who don’t. I certainly learned a lot from reading this book and thoroughly enjoyed it – it has shone a light on a woman who for so long has been stuck in the background and this fantastic book has introduced her to a wider audience with it’s heavily researched yet witty narrative.

Highly recommended – 5/5

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