Book review: Sophia of Hanover

Sophia of Hanover: From Winter Princess to Heiress of Great Britain, 1630-1714 by J.N. Duggan

This is the story of Sophia, Electress of Hanover. Honestly, I have been rather curious about her for a while. Looking into genealogy and the line of the British succession, her name seems to crop up quite a bit.  Finding this book on Amazon, therefore felt a bit like resolving my thirst for knowledge, to put it like that.

The story takes us from her birth to death, and a bit beyond that on both sides. The genealogy also explains why Sophia’s descendants became monarchs of an island far away from Hanover.

The book is full of facts and stories about Sophia, her family and the times in which she lived. I am not too familiar with the times, so for me it was good to get the setting around at the same time as I got the more personal stories.

The ending, where Sophia died weeks before Queen Anne, thus never becoming Queen, but just the head of the dynasty, is slightly bittersweet. (If Hollywood had made her life story into a movie… you just know that there would have been a lot of tension music going on there… Right?)

The book flows well in the beginning, and is easy to read, but quickly becomes more convoluted with names (there are quite a lot of people with similar names) – and a bit more difficult to read. It might also be because I know the characters in the beginning, but the children of Sophia and her other relatives are more unknown to me.

But it is not written as popular history, which might be why it is not as easy to read as, say, the biography of the Duke of Edinburgh.

A couple of points: As someone whose knowledge of German geography is rather limited, I rather wished the map at the end of the book was in the beginning. I had to look up a couple of things along the way. But kudos for including it.

The extra nice bit is the appendix with the selected letters in the end, both in the original language and translated.

One comment

  1. Thankyou for your very kind review of my book Sophia of Hanover. I agree with you that the family names are very confusing which is why I included the lists of the various families at the end. I would have liked to put perforation marks with a little scissors from top to bottom of these pages to encourage readers to cut them out and use them as bookmarks whilst reading, but since this was my first book and I was a little in awe of the publishers I didn’t suggest this, especially as it would mean cutting the last page of the text out.
    I am really pleased that you enjoyed the appendix, it was a bit of an after-thought, but I hoped that my readers might share some of the pleasure that I got through reading the letters in their original language and coming so close to the letter writers themselves.
    Kind Regards
    Jo Duggan (J N Duggan)

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