In the spirit of the Royal Wedding I’m writing this review of the first and only novel by Danielle Steel that I have ever read. Don’t get me wrong, is not that I didn’t like it, I actually enjoyed this novel, but it wasn’t great and with so many wonderful stories out there this one is quite forgettable. Nevertheless, it came to my mind this past week with all the Royal Wedding madness.
H.R.H., the title of the novel, stand’s for Her Royal Highness; is the story of Princess Christianna, a young woman born royal and the daughter of the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein, a small country in Europe. She grew up in Europe but went to college in America, an experience that changed her perspective and made her realize that her duty as a Princess is a burden. Her Dad is very set about her future and her role, so when she got back from the States she had to resume her work making appearances cuttings ribbons during inaugurations and shaking hands.
After having lived in America she cannot conceive such a hollow existence, she wants to do something meaningful for the world, so she convinces her Dad to give her a year experiencing life outside of palace. That’s how she ends up in East Africa working as an undercover volunteer (meaning that no one knows that she is royalty) for the Red Cross. There she meets Parker, an American member of Doctor Without Borders, and they helplessly fall in love with each other. She keeps her secret from Parker but when the political situation of the country where they are becomes too unstable for her to be there, she has to come clean to him and explain that honor and duty makes it impossible for them to continue their love affair.
An unfortunate series of events complicate things even further. These events include terrorism, death, politics and again duty; and if you think that I’m repeating myself with all this talk about duty, wait until you read this book, every three pages or so you are going to be reminded of it. Anyway, repetitiveness aside, what I found nice about this book is the fact that Christianna questions the role of Royals, she wonders how it was possible that Royals, who only cut bows and are patrons of charities, are still famous and an important part of the European society; they are not actors or actress, celebrities or even famous sports players. They are powerful not because they did something to deserve it, but because they happened to be born a Royal. She wants to do more, to be more and that is something that I think is really nice is this story.
Like I said before, in every chapter you are going to read about how hard a Princess’s life is and the weight of duty, which is very annoying. The other thing is that at the end I felt like I was reading a soap opera; tragedy of the worst kind came upon Christianna and is quite unbelievable how Steel solved the mess that she created. This is a novel to be read in a quiet afternoon; I can’t recommend you to buy it, just borrow it from the library and use all the buzz generated by the Royal Wedding, that will make the experience more enjoyable, actually that’s basically what makes me give it a 3, I feel like reading it again after watching the wedding.
Review by Marie
In blue jeans and a pullover, Princess Christianna is a young woman of her times: born in Europe, educated in America, worried about the future of the world she lives in, responsible beyond her years. Christianna is the only daughter of the Reigning Prince of a European nation that takes its royalty seriously — and her father has iron clad plans for Christianna’s life, a burden which for her is almost unbearable. Now, after four years at Berkeley, life in her father’s palace cannot distract Christianna from what she sees outside the kingdom — the suffering of children, the ravages of terrorism and disease. Determined to make a difference in the world, she persuades His Royal Highness, her father, to let her volunteer for the Red Cross in East Africa. And for Christianna, a journey of discovery, change, and awakening begins. Under a searing East African sun, Christianna plunges into the dusty, bustling life of an international relief camp, finding a passion and a calling among the brave doctors and volunteers. Finally free from the scrutiny of her royal life, Christianna struggles to keep her identity a secret from her new friends and coworkers — even from Parker Williams, the young doctor from Doctors Without Borders who works alongside Christianna and shares her dedication to healing. But as violence approaches and invades the camp, and the pressures of her royal life beckon her home, Christianna’s struggle for freedom takes an extraordinary turn. By a simple twist of fate, in one shocking moment, Christianna’s life is changed forever — in ways she never could have foreseen. From the splendor of a Prince’s palace to the chaos of war-torn nations, Danielle Steel takes us into fascinating new worlds. Filled with unforgettable images and a remarkable cast of characters, H.R.H. is a novel of the conflict between old and new worlds, responsibility vs. freedom, and duty vs. love.
Bantam Press. November 7, 2006