The Prince’s Women

Written by Deryn Lake
Review by Penny Ingham

Charles Edward Stuart, aka The Young Pretender, aka Bonnie Prince Charlie, was the eldest grandson of the exiled Catholic King James II. As such, he was a legitimate heir to the throne – according to the Jacobite succession. Having spent his childhood in exile in Rome, he entered history (and legend) for his part in the uprising against the Protestant King George II, and his subsequent defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

The Prince’s Women unapologetically “does what it says on the tin”. The subtitle reads “the conquests and losses of Charles Edward Stuart – on and off the battlefield”, and, to a large extent, the author has chosen to focus her attention on Charles’s extremely active and colourful love-life. This novel is, without doubt, a titillating romp, and the overall tone is witty and light-hearted, but there is also depth and poignancy as the disappointments and tragedies of his life unfold.

The author has a convincing grasp of the period, and the world The Young Pretender inhabits is brought vividly to life. So too is the character of Charles himself. Lake depicts a likeable prince who enjoyed pursuing glamorous women, no matter whether they were young and old, married or single. But, as this novel cleverly portrays, there was more to the Bonnie Prince than his lusty love affairs. He was also a brave, charismatic man, who never gave up on his dream of recovering the throne, and whose greatest love was not for a sweetheart, but for his beloved daughter, Charlotte.