The Wild Princess
Upon the death of her mother, Queen Victoria, in 1901, Princess Louise, the sixth child and fourth daughter of Victoria and Albert, writes to the son of her dearest friend. Louise encloses a manuscript describing a youthful indiscretion which she committed when she was a young princess. The action now flashes back to 1871 and Louise’s strange and unhappy marriage to John Lorne, later Duke of Argyll. Princess Louise was a headstrong and extremely beautiful young woman. She studied art at a London School and was more than a competent painter and sculptor. She was also an early feminist, hence her nickname of “wild princess.”
The plot of this fictional account deals with an attempt on the life of one or more members of the royal family. The hero is Stephen Byrne, an American in the employ of the British Secret Service. Byrne is convinced there is a plot afoot, but his investigation is hindered by protocol and the overly protective John Brown, Queen Victoria’s formidable Highland gillie. Although Byrne and Louise initially do not get along, they eventually become lovers, and together they investigate the possible assassination which is planned to take place during the Accession Day celebration.
In this first of a projected series of novels featuring the daughters of Victoria, Perry has done a superb job of blending real and fictional characters while weaving actual events with fictitious ones; for example, using the details of the Jubilee Plot of 1887 to describe the attempt on Accession Day. Her characterization of the “wild princess” is believable, as is her description of life in Victoria’s palaces.