This is the sort of book that gets put into print and then quickly discounted and delegated to the clearance section of a big name bookstore (which is exactly where I bought it). It’s not a strictly historical text, it’s not a feminist treatise, and it’s not going to tell you anything new about the world. But if you happen to stumble across a copy, it’s well worth picking up, because I had a ton of fun reading it. McRobbie does an excellent job distilling these princesses down to their deeds with a nod to the greater context surrounding them, such as also acknowledging how little power women have held historically. But she does so in a fun, conversational manner that humanizes every single one of these women.
Bonus points for expanding beyond the European-centric model of princesses by giving us stories of noblewomen from ancient Chinese dynasties to colonial (and post-colonial) African and Indian kingdoms. It also extends into the 20th and 21st centuries with nods to contemporary princesses.
There was some awkwardness with discussion of the sexual orientations of some of the women and the men attached to their lives that I wish had matched up with the modern tone of the rest of the text. However, I appreciated the lack of judgement used by the author on the women themselves, especially in regards to their own sexualities and sexual relationships.
It’s absolutely true that these stories don’t end happily ever after. But they’re still compelling, and an excellent, quick read for anyone interested in historical snapshots that center on women.