2019 Reading List: The Girl in the Tiara

Do you love reading about royals as much as I do? If so, check out my 2019 royal reading list - all the research books I bought, borrowed, and re-read are listed here.

Just scroll down to get the info for each book, including my comments. Or use the table of contents below to jump straight to a book you’re already interested in.

Looking for 2020’s reading list? Click here to check it out. Or click here to drop me a line and recommend a book!

Alexander II

Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar b Edvard Radzinsky | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Edvard Radzinsky, translated by Antonina Bouis
Publisher: Free Press
Year: 2006
Available at: Amazon

Having read Radzinsky’s bio of Nicholas II years ago (like, in middle school), I decided to go through his back catalog and pick up some other titles I might have missed. The premise of this one is interesting – Radzinsky maps Alexander’s life against the growing terrorist movement in Russia that eventually took his life.

Anastasia

Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson by Peter Kurth | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Peter Kurth
Publisher: Back Bay/Little Brown (updated edition)
Year: 1986
Available at: Amazon

After re-reading King and Wilson’s book on the Anna Anderson case, I had to go re-read this one, too – the book that introduced me to Anna Anderson and started a Romanov obsession. So how was it, reading it again 30 years later?

Bismarck

Bismarck: The Man and the Statesman by AJP Taylor | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: A.J.P. Taylor
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1967
Available at: Amazon

You can’t write about Germany and German monarchs in the 19th century without talking about Bismarck. And because my first exposure to him was as the villain in Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia’s life, I decided to broaden my perspective with this classic text.

Bismarck and the Guelph Problem

Bismarck and the Guelph Problem 1866-1890 by Stewart A. Stehlin | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Stewart Stehlin
Publisher: Martinus Nuhoff
Year: 1973
Available at: Amazon

Does anyone else think this title sounds like the imperial German version of “The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Money”? No? Okay, maybe not. Well, I checked this book out from the library because I wanted to know more about the Hanoverian dynasty and what happened to them after the Austro-Prussian War (1866). They lost their throne when Prussia annexed Hanover, but what happened next? How do you sever a royal family from their kingdom? I hoped this book would give me some context.

Cartier

Cartier by Hans Nadelhoffer | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Hans Nadelhoffer
Publisher: Chronicle Books, first edition
Year: 2007
Available at: Amazon

Another gorgeous, drool-worthy coffee table book with pictures of jewels belonging to royals, movie stars, and more. Remember how people used to claim they bought Playboy for the articles? I kind of get that now, because believe it or not, I bought this book for the text, not the pictures. I was tracking down some info on the Yusupovs for a future blog post, and this book had what I wanted. Sold.

Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Robert K. Massie
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2011
Available at: Amazon

I started this last year while in the hospital after a car accident. Unfortunately, I was high on pain pills (which are essentially heroin) the whole time and didn’t (a) finish the book or (b) absorb anything I read because I was stoned out of my gourd. This year, I made time to fix that.

Charlotte and Feodora

Charlotte and Feodora: A Troubled Mother-Daughter Relationship in Imperial Germany by John Van der Kiste | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: John Van der Kiste
Publisher: A&F Publications
Year: 2015
Available at: Amazon (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

Princess Charlotte of Prussia went down in history as a selfish, gossiping woman who was a huge disappointment to her mother, the future Empress Frederick. The pattern repeated itself with Charlotte’s only child, Princess Feodora. What gives? Why can’t Hohenzollerns all just get along?

The Coburgs of Belgium

Author: Theo Aronson
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Year: 2015
Available at: Amazon (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

This is a quick history of the Belgian royal family, beginning with Leopold I and going straight down the line to Baudoin (the book was originally published in 1969). Note that this isn’t a history of Belgium - that would be a different book altogether. This is the story of a family first, a country second. And that’s just the way I like it.

Crown of Thorns

Crown of Thorns: The Reign of King Boris III of Bulgaria 1918-1943 | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Stephane Groueff
Publisher: Madison Books
Year: 1998
Available at: Amazon

King Boris of Bulgaria did not get a fair shake. This in-depth biography shows you what the poor guy was up against: a father no one trusted, a world in chaos, a dictator nearly impossible to fight, and a war nearly impossible to win.

Crowned Cousins

Crowned Cousins: The Anglo-German Royal Connection by Alan Palmer

Author: Alan Palmer
Publisher: Endeavour Media
Year: 2015
Available at: Amazon (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

This book covers the long and fascinating history of interconnectedness between the Hanoverian royal family and the British royal family. For several generations before Queen Victoria, they were one and the same.

A Family of Kings

A Family of Kings: The Descendants of Christian IX of Denmark by Theo Aronson

Author: Theo Aronson
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Year: 2014
Available at: Amazon (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

This is the story of a family - or, to be more accurate, the children within a family. King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark had six kids, all covered in this book: Frederick, Alexandra, William, Dagmar, Thyra, and Waldemar. Their stories are the who’s who of European history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The First German Empress

The First German Empress by John Van der Kiste

Author: John Van der Kiste
Publisher: A&F Publishing
Year: 2016
Available at: Amazon (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

An artistic, intelligent, liberal princess marries a conservative militaristic prince in love with someone else. Yeah, that’s gonna end well.

The Glory of the Habsburgs

The Glory of the Habsburgs by Princess Nora Fugger | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Princess Nora Fugger, translated by J.A. Galston
Publisher: George G. Harrap & Co.
Year: 1932
Available at: Amazon Marketplace, ABE Books

Princess Eleanora “Nora” zu Hohenlohe-Bartenstein und Jagstberg wrote about her life in Viennese high society, mingling with Habsburg archdukes and archduchesses. Franz-Ferdinand and Otto make appearances, as do Archduke Rudolf and Mary Vetsera.

The Heroine of Gaeta

The Heroine of Gaeta: Queen Maria Sophia of The Two Sicilies by John Van der Kiste

Author: John Van der Kiste
Publisher: A&F Publications
Year: 2019
Available at: Amazon (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

Sissi’s little sister gained international fame at age 19…and spent the rest of her life searching for purpose and meaning. Her story is tragic – and impossible to forget.

Jewels of the Romanovs

The Jewels of the Romanovs Family & Court by Stefano Papi | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Stefano Papi
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Year: 2013 (revised & expanded edition)
Available at: Amazon

A big, gorgeous coffee table book about the Romanov jewels, including those of extended family members (i.e., the Yusupovs, via Irina’s marriage to Felix Yusupov). Prepare to drool like a goddamn St. Bernard.

Natasha’s Dance

Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes

Author: Orlando Figes
Publisher: Picador, first edition
Year: 2003
Available at: Amazon

This epic cultural history of Russia is a must-read even though my beloved Romanovs are tangential to the story. It provides so much context for Russian history, culture, arts, religious beliefs, and and more.

One Man in His Time

One Man in His Time: The Memoirs of Serge Obolensky | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Serge Obolensky
Publisher: Lucknow Books
Year: 2015
Available at: Amazon

I picked this up for the Kindle while I was researching Felix Yusupov. Obolensky was one of his good friends before and after the revolution. Turns out, Obolensky’s story is insanely interesting and well worth a read on its own. Jay Gatsby has nothing on Serge Obolensky.

Once a Grand Duchess

Once a Grand Duchess: Xenia, Sister of Niciholas II by John Van der Kiste and Coryne Hall

Authors: John Van der Kiste and Coryne Hall
Publisher: Sutton Publishing
Year: 2004
Available at: Amazon

Xenia was Tsar Nicholas II’s sister – and an eyewitness to many of the events that presaged the Russian Revolution. This must-read book somehow slipped through my radar for many years, but I’m glad I finally picked it up off the shelf.

Ein Photoalbum aus dem Hause Habsburg

Ein Photoalbum aus dem Hause Habsburg | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Authors: Vilmos Heiszler, Margit Szakács and Károly Vörös
Publisher: Corvina
Year: 1989
Available at: ABE Books

I bought this book to get a closer look at Archduchess Maria Anna’s family, the Austria-Teschens. Many of the photos were taken by her mom, Archduchess Isabella. They reveal a family that liked to go outdoors, play music, smile, and have fun…just like yours or mine.

Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone

Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone by Theo Aronson

Author: Theo Aronson
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Year: 2014
Available at: Amazon (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

This official bio of Princess Alice shows us what it’s like to be a working royal. (Hint: it’s exhausting.)

A Princess in Exile

A Princess in Exile by Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna
Publisher: The Viking Press
Year: 1932
Available at: ABE Books (signed copy, as of this writing)

After fleeing the Russian Revolution, Maria and her second husband, Prince Putiatin, ended up in Romania. From there, they moved on to start new lives in France, where Maria struggled to find an identity and purpose as a wife, a sister, and a woman. Does this sound like a great setup for a TV show to anyone else? Someone get Amazon or Apple on the horn.

The Queen Mother

The Queen Mother: The Official Biography by William Shawcross

Author: William Shawcross
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 2009
Available at: Amazon

An official biography that makes me miss the Queen Mum – and wish I could have had a drink with her. And good lord, isn’t that a beautiful cover?

The Quest of the Romanoff Treasure

The Quest of the Romanoff Treasure by Armand Hammer

Author: Armand Hammer
Publisher: Paisley Press, third edition
Year: 1936
Available at: Amazon Marketplace

I found a reference in an old newspaper to Armand Hammer and his Russian pencil factory. That newspaper blurb said he was paid in part by the Soviet government in Romanov and Yusupov jewels. Damned if I didn’t order a used copy right away to see what Mr. Hammer had to say for himself.

The Resurrection of the Romanovs

The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World's Greatest Royal Mystery by Greg King and Penny Wilson

Authors: Greg King and Penny Wilson
Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2011
Available at: Amazon

I’d read this book when it first came out, but after I enjoyed this duo’s Twilight of Empire so much earlier in the year, I went back and re-read this one. It’s still a humdinger of a good ride.

Royal Vendetta

Royal Vendetta: The Crown of Spain 1829-1965 by Theo Aronson | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Author: Theo Aronson
Publisher: The Bobbs-Merrill Company
Year: 1966
Available at: Amazon (Kindle version is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

This is Spanish history in an easy-to-follow tale that centers on the intriguing women of Spanish history: Maria Cristina, Isabel II, another Maria Cristina, and Victoria Eugenia. I first read this book in, like, middle school and remembered how much I enjoyed it, so I picked up a used copy and re-read it.

Scourge of Henry VIII

Scourge of Henry VIII: The Life of Marie de Guise by Melanie Clegg

Author: Melanie Clegg
Publisher: Pen & Sword History
Year: 2019
Available at: Amazon (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

Marie de Guise wasn’t just Mary, Queen of Scots’s mom. She was twice a widow, three times a grieving mother with a dead child, and a woman just trying to do right by her birth and adopted countries. Cut her some slack, okay?

The Secret Rooms

The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess & a Family Secret by Catherine Bailey

Author: Catherine Bailey
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2013
Available at: Amazon

The author came to Belvoir Castle to research one book and ended up writing another once she uncovered a strange, oh-so-intentional gap in the family’s archives. Who had censored the family’s history…and why?

Twilight of Empire

Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson | The Girl in the Tiara 2019 Royal Reading List

Authors: Greg King and Penny Wilson
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2017
Available at: Amazon

You have to read this book – it’s unputdownable. There are so many little mysteries surrounding the suicide of Austria’s Crown Prince Rudolf at his hunting lodge of Mayerling in 1899. King and Wilson tackle all of them, with analysis that’s balanced and convincing. Plus, they set the scene in such a way that you feel you’re in imperial Vienna. Score.

What royal history books did you read this year? Send me a message to recommend your favorites!

Here’s to another great year of royal reading & research in 2020!


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