The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s novel, The Royal We, is sheer delight from start to finish.  As an American who lived in England for several formative adolescent years (ages 12-16), an unabashed Royal-watcher, and a longtime fan of the authors’ site, Go Fug Yourself, I anticipated this book for many reasons.  The Royal We did not disappoint.

The story opens with a brief, suspense-setting moment as Bex, the American who is set to wed England’s first-born prince and royal heir (very clearly modeled after Prince William) faces questions and hesitations hours before her Royal Wedding.  Then the novel takes us back many years and shows us the first time Bex – on a junior year abroad from Cornell – meets Prince Nicholas.

I did not spend a college year abroad at Oxford, but my sister did, and I can’t wait for her to read this book.  The descriptions of Bex and Nicholas’s adventures at Oxford’s Pembroke College are enchanting.  Weeks after finishing the book I was thinking about the architecture of Oxford and the close relationships that blossomed among the not-all-strangers assigned to a given hall in a given dormitory in a given college

The Royal We is about Bex and Nick, but it has a beautifully drawn cast of supporting characters, too.  Bex and Nick each have one sibling – Bex, a beautiful twin sister, Lacey, and Nicholas a troublesome, cad of a younger brother named Freddie (inspired by Harry, with a strong of hilariously-named girlfriends including Fallopia).  Bex’s American family, including her father, the inventor of the Coucherator, are heartwarmingly loving and true, and Nick’s British family, particularly his aloof father and 60-years-on-the-throne grandmother, are chilly and funny.

As I read I tumbled headfirst into the world Cocks and Morgan created, populated by Gaz (his full name is Garamond, after the font), Lady Bollocks (nicknamed based on her initials, and the holder of a secret that erupts in the books’ second half), Clive (Bex’s first Oxford conquest, whose true nature comes out, also in the book’s second half), and Cilla (whose loyalty to Bex is one of the strong undercurrents of the book).

The Royal We is page-turning fun from beginning to end.  It’s also a fundamentally joyful and tremendously hopeful story with true love at its heart.  I closed the book feeling deep affection for both human, fallible Bex and human, fallible Nick.  They had become people rather than caricatures, and through this feat Cocks and Morgan remind us that Britain’s royal family is no different, ultimately, from all of us.  Every person, no matter how famous, is a human being too, complete with his or her stories of heartbreak and triumph, moving through the world as best as he or she can.

 

Lindsey Mead is a mother, writer, and financial services professional who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and son. Her work has been published and anthologized in a variety of print and online sources. She writes daily at A Design So Vast and can be found on Twitter (@lemead) and at Facebook.

 

Have you read The Royal We? We’d love to hear what you think — please share in the comments below. Thanks!