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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Princess, the King,
and the Anarchist

Robert Pagani

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To purchase The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist

Title: The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist
Author: Robert Pagani
Genre: Novel
Written: 2008 (Eng. 2010)
Length: 99 pages
Original in: French
Availability: The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist - US
The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist - UK
The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist - Canada
Mon roi, mon amour - Canada
The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist - India
Mon roi, mon amour - France
  • French title: Mon roi, mon amour
  • Translated by Helen Marx
  • With an Introduction by Caroline Weber

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Our Assessment:

B+ : fine, small novella of playful historical fiction

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Washington Times . 8/4/2011 Martin Rubin

  From the Reviews:
  • "Helen Marxís rendering of Robert Paganiís French gives one a real feeling for his style, as well as the content. The former is a trifle overheated, but this is at least somewhat appropriate to the horrific event at the center of the novel. It is the content that gives pause, in all sorts of ways. (...) (T)his novel milks the real situation while piling improbability upon improbability as ludicrous garlands. (...) (T)he fundamental questioned posed by this novel is, why fantasize when the reality is so much more horrendous than the silly product of this authorís paltry imaginative flight ?" - Martin Rubin, The Washington Times

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist is based on an historical event: anarchist Mateu Morral's assassination attempt of Spanish King Alfonso XIII and his new wife, Victoria Eugenia (here Mary and then María Eugenia) on their wedding day, 31 May 1906. There were a number of deaths and many injured, but the king and his new bride escaped the attack relatively unscathed. Pagani's novella is set in the space of a few hours on that day, beginning with the wedding procession and building up to the assassination attempt; Pagani then imagines the aftermath, taking greater liberties, especially with the anarchist-figure, who in fact committed suicide when he was going to be captured. The narrative moves between the three main characters -- princess, king, and anarchist -- and while the voice remains third-person, each account focuses entirely on the perspective of the character in question.
       The novella begins:

     The day she became queen, there were lots of flowers, lots of noises, lots of blood, and lots of dead bodies, but she wasn't particularly surprised.
       Newly wed, María Eugenia has other things on her mind when a bomb is thrown at their carriage; the blood that spatters her doesn't come entirely as a shock because she was, of course, expecting there to be some sort of violence followed by blood. Not like this, perhaps, but she had spent a great deal of time anxiously wondering about the wedding night, entirely unsure what to expect there but understanding that violence of sorts, and blood-spatter might be part of it.
       Before the bomb goes off, each of the three main characters is focused intently on an urge. The bride desperately needs to pee, and almost all she can think of is when and where she will relieve herself -- and what awaits her later that night. The king could tell her, as he is more than primed: he seems to have inherited a case of priapism and stands at the ready all day long (and well into the night, too). And then there is the anarchist, consumed by his mission. (In the book's most glaring weakness the anarchist is so consumed that he doesn't even have an escape plan after he's tossed his bomb, despite planning everything else so well and carefully.)
       In a way, the bomb is a release -- except for the king, who has to wait a while until he can find his release (at which point he's a little surprised that there isn't any blood). This bombshell-start to her married life does affect María Eugenia, but it also is invigorating, in a way. Each of the three main characters is, eventually, able to indulge in penetration and release; ironically, it is the king -- who surely had such high hopes -- who seems to derive the least satisfaction from it. María Eugenia, meanwhile, both gives and takes, in a wedding-day and night that proves considerably more eventful than she could possibly have expected.
       The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist is nicely written, capturing the obsessed minds and thoughts of all three characters quite well (though the María Eugenia-sections are by far the most successful, along with the concluding scene). The mix of horror, passion, and humor is particularly effective, Pagani managing a deft light touch even when dealing with mass- and other murder, as well as political and ideological convictions; the vacuous royals and the earnest anarchist -- as well as the relatively sophisticated king and his naïf-bride -- make for nice studies in contrasts.
       A perfectly satisfying little novella.

- M.A.Orthofer, 25 August 2010

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The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Swiss author Robert Pagani was born in 1934.

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