Just admit it: you’re head over heels for Reign. Ratings for the racy CW drama have been steadily rising – look no further than Thursday’s lavish wedding episode, which earned its highest viewership of the season – which seem to indicate the market for edgy princess drama is holding its own.
And with good reason. The 16th century, with its corseted dresses, complicated transnational politics, torrid affairs, absurd wigs and class struggles, has long inspired period television drama and film. Hundreds of authors have been similarly inspired, penning a host of deliciously scandalous offerings meant to satisfy your craving for all things bejeweled, lusty and forbidden. So if you’re longing for more after Reign’s last episode, there are plenty of books to choose from. Here’s a look at three of our very favorite princess books, complete with epic romance, sprawling castles, the Queen’s English, and a gripping storyline revolving around a throne at stake.
The Other Queen (Philippa Greggory)
If you’re obsessed with Reign’s storyline about Mary, Queen of Scots’ conflict between heart and country, then you’ll love The Other Queen by esteemed British novelist Philippa Gregory. Written with the same passionate, descriptive manner as Gregory’s other offerings (The Other Boleyn Girl), The Other Queen focuses on Queen Mary’s imprisonment by fellow queen and cousin Queen Elizabeth as her ultimate protection of England’s coveted throne. The bad news: You’ll race through this novel in a matter of hours. The good news? The book is part of a six-book series called The Tudor Court novels, all chronicling various (torrid!) aspects of British history.
Mary Queen of Scots (Antonia Fraser)
Many in literary circles single-handedly credit Antonia Fraser for inspiring the current landscape of epic historical biographies and fiction. Fraser – whose 40 year career spans biographies, novels and detective fiction – has penned a number of biographies about British royalty ranging from King James IV, Mary Antoniette and yes, Mary Queen of Scots. And if you think that that scripted drama about the Scottish queen is as good as it gets, think again – because Fraser’s oh-so-juicy 1969 biography makes period fiction seem pale in comparison.
Elizabeth I (Margaret George)
Tudor history from the female viewpoint makes Scandal’s intrigue look like child play, so it goes without saying that we’re fans of Margaret George’s 2011 novel Elizabeth I. Written in the first person perspective of Queen Elizabeth I and spanning girlhood to her years spent on the throne, this is a dynamic – and totally dramatic – portrait of a woman who broke all the rules when it came to safekeeping her crown.