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Description⎮Reviewed May 2018
Narrator: Gildart Jackson
Length: 7 hours 35 minutes
Publisher: Tantor Audio⎮2017
Synopsis: For eight brief years, before he was tragically killed in a mysterious air crash during the Second World War, Prince George, Duke of Kent, son of King George V and Queen Mary, and his beautiful wife, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, were the British monarchy’s – indeed, high society’s – most glamorous royal couple; and as golden royal icons, they are still remembered. As a young man voraciously addicted to drugs and sex with men as much as women, marriage and parenthood for the impetuously wayward playboy prince, with his nightclubbing lifestyle and intimate liaisons, was seen as the only stabilizing influence. Enter the stylish and sophisticated Princess Marina, the cultured, artistic, and multilingual youngest daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and his Russian-born wife, Grand Duchess Yelena Vladimirovna. As Duke and Duchess of Kent, George and Marina were the Crown’s most glittering representatives, not least in the aftermath of the abdication of George’s adored elder brother, the briefly reigned King Edward VIII, the man not only with whom he had shared both home and high-flying lifestyles but who had helped cure him of his addiction to morphine and cocaine.
4.5★ Audiobook⎮ With the royal wedding approaching, I’ve found myself listening to more and more royal biographies lately. I’m always searching for anything happening to do with European royalty, because one can only hear so much about Queen Victoria. Finding George and Marina: Duke and Duchess of Kent, felt like the perfect opportunity to learn more about the Greek and Danish royal houses, even if it was only through their connection to the house of Windsor.
Not long ago, I read about the wedding of George and Marina through the eyes of Rhys Bowen’s fictional character Lady Georgianna Runnoch in Royal Blood, the fourth installment in the series Her Royal Spyness. Obviously, that was a fictional account, but it was enough to pique my interest.
I’m fairly well acquainted with the life of Prince George, Duke of Kent. However, I knew very little about his wife before hearing George and Marina, especially about her life before marriage. Luckily for me, George and Marina focused heavily on Marina. I’m not sure if that was by design, since so much has already been written about the members of the House of Windsor, or if it was merely because Marina outlived her husband by more than two decades. Either way, it proved that I had chosen the right memoir for my interests.
Christopher Warwick did a fantastic job of detailing Marina’s European lineage and providing a plethora of anecdotal information on her family. This was the only time I wished I had a physical copy of this book handy. Whenever there is a long list of genealogy and the accompanying royal titles, I find it best to have at least a genealogical chart on standby. I wish it was common for audiobooks to provide downloadable PDFs outlining such information. It certainly would have helped me to cement what I was hearing. Thankfully, I already knew enough to follow along and digest what I could.
Warwick provided an even account of scandals of the time. We’ve all heard the rumors and Warwick addressed them head-on. This wasn’t necessarily an overly-flattering biography (one paying “lip service”), but I appreciated that it acknowledged both the contemporary and modern gossip surrounding the couple. It seemed more balanced than most royal biographies today, though not particularly in-depth.
George and Marina was the perfect length to scratch an intellectual itch. It held just enough information to satisfy my curiosity without boring me to death with unnecessary facts. I would recommend George and Marina to the casual historian, but it probably wouldn’t hold up to tougher standards. Unfortunately, it seems to be the only audiobook available about the couple.
Narration review: Gildart Jackson sounded like he was pulled straight from the set of The Crown. His accent and pronunciations were perfectly suited for a biography about old school royalty. Clearly a seasoned narrator, Jackson’s pace and timing kept me on the hook, something I always worry about with nonfiction titles. The audio quality wasn’t perfect, but I have to admit that it added a certain vintage vibe to the listening experience, like listening on an antique radio. ♣︎