The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock (2019)
In The Other Windsor Girl, author Georgie Blalock explores the life of England's Princess Margaret, as seen through the eyes of her lady-in-waiting, Vera.
Romance novelist Vera has dreams of moving to New York City and writing a literary masterpiece, but after a chance meeting with Princess Margaret, she accepts a position as her lady-in-waiting, seeing it as a step up in life for her, at least for a little while. While in service, Vera is witness to Princess Margaret's doomed love affair with Captain Townsend. I liked this imagined insider look at royal life; the things I know about Princess Margaret mostly come from watching The Crown, and the book kind of went along with those. Despite all her opportunity and wealth, the Princess seemed very adrift, unsure of her place in her family and in the world. I appreciated the way Blalock found similarities between Vera and Margaret, despite being in such different stations in life - they both watched their sisters get married and start families, while their own relationships faced challenges. Vera gave up years of her life to serve Margaret, and it was kind of frustrating to watch her give up on her dreams because she didn't want to give up her lifestyle or "desert" the Princess. The writing was good, although the story started off slowly, and the ending, and especially the epilogue, came on way too abruptly and were a little too saccharine for my taste. 3.5 stars
Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner (2020)
In Lady in Waiting, Anne Glenconner tells her life story as a member of the British aristocracy and in service to the Royal Family.
I thought this memoir was just going to be about Glenconner's decades serving as a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret, but it was so much more than that. From her early years to the present, Anne Glenconner has lived an incredible life, and I loved this glimpse into it. The writing style is easy to read and conversational, like you're sitting down to tea and sharing stories with her. She seemed so matter-of-fact about even the most tragic events - her long yet troubled marriage to a mentally ill man, the struggles some of her children faced. Of course, I especially enjoyed the stories about the Royal Family. From playing together as children to serving as a companion to Princess Margaret until her death, the royals were a constant in Glenconner's life. She shared personal stories but it never felt exploitative, always respectful. I learned a lot about Princess Margaret and really admire her after reading this - although she had her eccentricities, she really seemed to love life and having fun, while also fulfilling her duties admirably. 4 stars