More Character Than Charm
Sophia of Hanover and Her Times. By F. E. Bailey. (Hutchinson. 18s.) Reviewed by J. J. DWYER The accession of George I to the throne of England was after all only one step in a long staircase, but it was an exceedingly important step because the coming of George Louis the Elector installed the Han overian dynasty. It is this fact that gives historical importance to the Electress Sophia. As grand-daughter of James I and
mother or George 1 she is the link that connects the House of Brunswick with the Stuarts and, through the .Stuarts, with the ancient line of Sovereigns, Saxon and Norman, Plantagenet and Tudor.
Her father was Frederick, the Elector Palatine, who tried so hard and so disastrously to be King of Bohemia: her mother was " the Winter Queen." As the twelfth Child cf her parents, Sophia and her offspring had apparently little chance of succeeding' " fie ' 'the British throne, for if Charles II had had any legitimate children, or regain, if any of Queen Anne's numerous offspring had Survived. Sophia's chance would have been nil. As it was, she narrowly missed the English throne herself, for her death took place only two months before that of Anne. But her son succeeded and so her life's object was after all achieved. In 1702 the Act of Settlement had ensured the succession to herself and to her eldest son, as they fulfilled the all-important condition of being Protestants.
Sophia was a woman of character and capacity rather than charm. The thing for which she is remembered is her long friendship and vast correspondence with Leib
nitz. She was not what is called an intellectual woman and she had too much commonsense to be a " bluestocking "her real interests were, naturally, dynastic. Nor was she particularly kindly; the modern reader would need a very strong " historical sense " to condone her heartless attitude towards her son's unhappy and ill-treated wife.
The author has allotted a good deal of his space to Sophia's "times," as the ways of German princelings with their relatives and their subjects lend themselves to sprightly narrative. Thus the tragedy of Sophia Dorothea and Konigsmarck receives its full share of prominence. The book would, however, have been more readable if it were not such an obvious attempt to make historical biography palatable to people who do not want it.
Truth is Whispered, by Errol Fitzgerald. (Mills and Boon, 7s. 6d.). Mystery, suspense and romance together in a novel by the same author as Arrows of Chance.
All Quiet at Home, by Josephine Kamm.
(Longmans, 7s. 6d.). Family life in suburbia is apt superficially to appear monotonous. Actually, to those who live it it is momentous. Miss Kamm shows us how.