The Wandering Princess: Princess Hélène of France, Duchess of Aosta
Biographies of aristocrats from the mid-Victorian age onward are not generally the most exciting reads. Generally by this time most of the titles are no more than ceremonial in nature, with few vestiges of power left. Most of the biographies read kind of like novels from the period of balls, parties, and long walks in the park. What makes things not much better is when the writing is dense and the book is thick. This is what we get in this new biography of Princess Helene of France, Duchess of Aosta. Besides being of the Orleans family, she married into the Italian monarchy and lived through two world wars. She traveled a lot, and her most notable achievement was being the head of the Italian Red Cross during World War I. Since she was only in court briefly and not much was happening anyway, she spent a lot of her time away. It is just that this is a slog to get through. If you can get through the morass of names, titles, and the like in the first few chapters, it gets slightly better in the later ones. But it is difficult trying to keep all the family lines separate throughout.