The Glitter and the Gold tells the story of George IV of England and his relationship with Maria Fitzherbert. I am not going into great details of the storyline, as a lot of it might be spoilerish for those not familiar with George’s history. When the reader first meets George he is still the Prince of Wales, and he’s had enough of his parsimonious parents and their rigid lifestyle, so when he’s nineteen and allowed to cut loose on the world – watch out. There’s some serious high living going on there, along with the immense debt that continued to pile up behind it. But then one day George (Prinney) meets the twice widowed and very Catholic Maria Fitzherbert and he determines to have her no matter the price. And since Maria won’t be a mistress that price is very high indeed.
No one quite knew how the rumor had started. It spread across the Channel and titillated Paris salons. It crossed the Alps and caused a raising of eyebrow in Roman palaces. The Pope knew of it. There was a buzzing of beretta. Had the heir to the throne of England married a Catholic?
This was a seriously fun read, and I am very sad to let these characters go. While this isn’t the greatest novel ever written, I thought the author did a good job with the characters he had, particularly with George – warts and all. I really appreciated the way the author managed to show us George’s ever-increasing waistline by showing instead of telling, as opposed to that lazy method I’ve seen a lot lately in Tudor novels (no beady eyes or gravy drooling down one’s chin to be found here). I have no idea how close this book sticks to known historical facts, but the few times I did go for additional reading I didn’t find anything different from what was portrayed in the book. Dyne even threw in a couple of references to his younger brother’s somewhat notorious relationship to Mary Anne Clarke (trivia: can you name her famous great-great-granddaughter?). I am curious to know if Caroline of Brunswick was really like that starting at age fourteen. Oh my.
All in all jolly good fun and I heartily recommend it. Just don’t take too long dithering about whether to pick up a copy or not. From looking around the book seller sites there aren’t that many copies to be had. I did find a brief bio on the author at the back of the book, it seems that Dyne primarily wrote plays and movie scripts, including The Right Honorable Gentlemen, which was nominated for a Tony award. The Glitter and the Gold was inspired by his love of Regency furniture. I was torn between a 3.5 or a four star rating, but I just had too much fun. 4/5 stars.