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James The Third

"What if Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret had had a brother? Blending history with speculative fiction, this is a right royal novel for readers fascinated by family drama and British regency."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Driven by the drama of compelling “what ifs?”, Maggie Ballinger’s James the Third poses an intriguing question: what if King George VI had had a son? Covering 1948 through to 1997, this dialogue-rich offering of speculative fiction is sure to scintillate readers interested in the British royal family, with memorable real-life events woven into the imagined alternate history (for one example, the now infamous Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana gets a mention).

Of course, given the rules around succession, had Elizabeth and Margaret had a younger brother, Elizabeth would not have become Queen on the death of her father in 1952. Instead, as happens here, the sisters’ younger brother James ascends the throne at a young age. As he struggles to reconciles the demands and limitations of his role with personal desires, the author presents the parallel tale of  sisters Lil and Peggy, devout royalists who work in Woolworths on Deptford High Street. Being of similar age, they'd "always felt a close association with the King and Queen’s daughters”.

With explanatory notes reconciling history with what might have happened had Elizabeth had a younger brother, this shines a light on the difference between being a female heir presumptive and an heir apparent. Overall, with the parallel stories playing out like a TV drama, this will surely grip and entertain readers looking to be swept up in an episodic saga.

Joanne Owen

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