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The Golden Prince    by Rebecca Dean order for
Golden Prince
by Rebecca Dean
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2010 (2010)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

What makes Rebecca Dean's The Golden Prince fascinating is its resonances with the early life of England's Edward, Prince of Wales, son of the choleric King George and aloof Queen Mary. Rebecca Dean tells us in her Author's Note that, though the Houghton family and their Snowberry Manor home are fictional, Prince Edward did fall in love with 'the unmarried youngest daughter of the Duke of Sutherland, Rosemary Leveson-Gower', whom he met during the war in France, where she was a Red Cross nurse. Sadly she died in 1919.

As The Golden Prince opens in 1911, Prince Edward (known in family circles as David) is on a weekend's leave from Dartmouth Naval College, where he is a cadet. Driving home to Windsor through Hampshire, accompanied by his dour equerry, Captain Piers Cullen, he takes a corner too fast and knocks Rose Houghton off her bicycle. Luckily she only suffers scrapes and naturally the Prince drives her home, where he is enchanted by her siblings (Marigold, Iris and Lily) and by their informality. The four sisters live at Snowberry Manor with their grandfather, their mother having abandoned them for a second marriage to a French nobleman after their father's early death.

Though Cullen should have told King George about the incident, he keeps it to himself, having fallen hard for Lily (and being unaware of the Prince's interest in her). Further meetings are arranged and young love blossoms. The four Houghton sisters could hardly be more different from each other, and this is as much their story as Prince Edward's. Rose is an Oxford-educated suffragette, who eventually works with, and weds a liberal Fleet Street editor. Homebody Iris has long loved the boy next door (or rather on the neighboring estate) and, after some hiccups, they too make a match. Wild Marigold has several forbidden relationships (with a married man, an artist, and a Russian prince) before things work out for her.

And young Lily? Though deeply in love with her David, with whom she spends magical days in France, she ultimately is wiser than he is, and decisively ends their relationship. Along the way, Dean shares with readers pre-World War I aristocratic life and times, as well as major events like King George's coronation and the sinking of the Titanic. If you're looking for a sweet romantic story steeped in early twentieth century history, then you'll adore The Golden Prince.

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