Who wrote this book and when?
Mark Helprin. It was released July 7th, 2005.

Has there been a movie made of this book?
No, and I can’t see a very good movie being made out of it. Hollywood would simply murder the story and the characters.

Who are the main characters?
Freddy – the Prince of Wales who always finds himself in embarrassing situations entirely out of his control
Fredericka – the Princess of Wales and Freddy’s wife. She is obsessed with fashion and looking her best.

What’s it about?
Freddy and Fredericka are the Prince and Princess of Wales – for those of you who don’t know what that means, click here or here. Freddy is a great learner, he loves to read and walk around the country incognit0. Unfortunately, this usually results in something humiliating happening to him. He also has failed the test by which the country will recognize him as being worthy of the title of King. He has not been able to get the royal hawk to fly. Fredericka is enormously self-centered and usually the cause of Freddy’s humiliation in some way.

To sum up a great deal of the first section of the book – mostly because I hated it – Freddy and Fredericka find themselves in the position of being sent on a quest by the mysterious Mr. Neil due to a conspiracy by the press to publish every humiliating picture and story about the Prince and Princess. Mr. Neil gives them the quest of bringing the upstart American colonies (by this time – the United States of America) back under British control. Both he and Fredericka are dropped over New Jersey wearing nothing but fur and snakeskin bikinis in the middle of the night.

Why is this book a classic?
It isn’t yet. It hasn’t been around long enough.

Why should I read this book?
Because Helprin is a master storyteller, you won’t even realize this novel is a satire until the end and you’ll come out not caring. You’ll love the characters and grow right along with them.

Has it won any awards?
It just came out last July, so not yet.

Favorite Quotes:
“I read. The more you read, the more the world opens up to you in a place like this, and the happier you are and more comforted you feel. It’s up to you. No one is educated who cannot educate himself.” p 304

Anything Else?
This is what I’m expecting out of Chris Paolini if he’s going to use big words in the third installment of the Inheritance Trilogy. Helprin is a master storyteller in every sense that Paolini falls under the rug.

Personal Thoughts:
Hmmm, well…it took me a very long time to gain any interest in reading this book. Helprin takes an exceedingly long time getting to the rising action of the story. He spends at least 100 pages developing the characters, and considering there were only two in this novel, it moved very slowly for me. I own his three children’s stories (which I highly recommend) and I suppose I went into this novel expecting immediate greatness. The slow pace, coupled with the presence of a bumbling but misunderstood character (I hate those with a passion…anything vaguely resembling “Meet the Parents” and I don’t like it…) made this book seem like a bore until Freddy and Fredericka actually began their quest.

Then the whole thing opened wide up and took me out with both barrels. Not only did I come out of the book loving both the main characters fiercely, but I was proud of them and felt included in their transformation. Helprin had used his character development at the beginning of this satirical tale to set the foundation for a relationship between Freddy, Fredericka and me.