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'The Royal We' by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan: EW review

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The Royal We

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Heather Cocks, Jessica Morgan
publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
genre:
Novel

We gave it a B+

What hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities, shameful desires and petty irritations lurk behind the gloriously bouncy waves and flashbulb-ready smile of Kate Middleton—sorry, of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge? Is she content to play the part of the perfect princess, or does she ever chafe at her golden chains? And what does she really think of Elizabeth II’s pastel suits and stiff upper lip?

We’ll probably never know. But Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, better known as the minds behind the caustically clever fashion blog Go Fug Yourself, have given the matter considerable thought. The result: The Royal We, a fictionalized account of Kate and Prince William’s courtship in the grand tradition of Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife (about a politician’s spouse who is not Laura Bush) and Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus’ The First Affair (about a White House intern who is not Monica Lewinsky).

Cocks and Morgan’s ersatz Kate is Rebecca Porter, an American by birth who’s a bit of a Cool Girl: She loves baseball and junk food! She’s not looking for a serious relationship! She goes by Bex! Like Middleton, Bex comes from a wealthy but déclassé family—her father invented a sofa/fridge combo called the Coucherator. Like Middleton, she has a gorgeous, attention-grabbing sister. And like Middleton, she gets to be classmates and pals with the heir to the British throne, here named Nicholas, before the two begin clandestinely dating.

Which isn’t to say that the novel functions only as a game of “spot the references.” While the authors draw heavily from their source material, they aren’t slaves to it—see Bex’s Stateside origins, or the story’s Diana figure, whose death-by-paparazzi is metaphorical rather than literal. More importantly, their characters are lively and quippy enough to register as people instead of tabloid-inspired cutouts—especially Prince Freddie, the roguish Spare to Nick’s Heir. The result is a breezy, juicy novel that’s like The Princess Diaries with fewer made-up countries and more sex—the kind of book you can imagine Pippa sneaking into Kensington Palace. B+