Cover Image: The Force of Such Beauty

The Force of Such Beauty

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Member Reviews

I must admit I dragged my feet reading The Force of Such Beauty because I didn't care for the cover.  But I'm glad I did read it.  I always have looked at princesses as having a wonderful life but what happens when someone from outside the country becomes princess and life isn't as great as it seems.  Being told what to wear, how to take care of your body, that you are only there to produce and heir and a spare.  Your every move is watched, who you talk to.  It's more of a prison for some.  Barbara Bourland did a good job of pulling me into the lives of Caroline and Finn.
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The Force of Such Beauty by Barbara Bourland is a haunting book. This book surprised me in the author's ability to pull me into a different world and make me feel claustrophobic. Something about it reminded me of the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper." I think Ms Bourland did a remarkable job bringing this story to life. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.
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First off, the cover of this one is swoon worthy. The Force of Such Beauty by Barbara Bourland wrestles with themes of power, beauty, and the force of the patriarchy. 

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this book with me. All thoughts are my own.
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how not to want to be a royal. Just a beautiful mix of royal historical fiction, lit fiction, and a coming of age story. Thank you to Dutton for the gifted ARC my honest review.
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You might think it would be every woman's dream to marry a handsome prince and become a princess, but for marathon champion Caroline, it becomes a nightmare of fulfilling her duty as showpiece and providing the royal family with heirs. Interesting premise, but I just could not connect to the main character and her whole poor-me thing, and felt the characters were all pretty one-dimensional.
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After struggling for some time with my rating, I've landed on a weak four.  I read this in a relatively short period of time, so it was compelling enough, but it's a difficult book to rate.

Like most fairy tales, it starts with a dynamic if troubled young woman, who takes on a role as princess to increase her sense of self, and to live with the man she loves (or has been groomed to love).  Love turns to duty, duty turns sour, powers behind the throne exert their influence.  It's not pretty.

One can't help but think of modern day princesses, as did the author.  I found it interesting and unsettling.

Thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for the ARC.
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I read this book DAYS after Queen Elizabeth II died (not even on purpose) and WHOA. I seriously hope it goes viral or something because it totally changed the way I think about royalty. It reads a bit like Princess Diana fanfiction, but it goes deeper and adds more twists and creates a perfect storm of controversy and tension. The characters felt evil and real and thorough. The first 10% is wildly readable. The rest gets harder and harder — maybe others would disagree! — but it's worth it. Dang. I won't forget this one.
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THE FORCE OF SUCH BEAUTY by Barbara Bourland was not what I expected but ended up being so much more. Well-written, sad, and surprisingly twisty, Bourland wrote a story that shows that things aren’t what they seem, and you should really be careful what you wish for. The ending surprised me, and I read with shocked tears in my eyes. Reading this novel was an experience that will sit in my mind for quite some time to come.
Thanks to the publisher for the opportunity to read an advanced copy. All opinions are my own and freely given.
#TheForceofSuchBeauty #BarbaraBourland #Dutton
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I have Dutton Books to thank for putting this on my radar and @suethebookie for adding a trusted referral to it. I am embarrassed to say I probably would have skipped this otherwise, but thankfully I didn’t and I’m going to do my best to convince you all to pick this one up!

Whether you’re into following real life princesses or not, you probably have at least a vague idea of some of the very real downfalls of being part of a modern monarchy. (Think Diana & Megan Markle.) Yes, it looks glamorous and fun, but then there is reality. TFOSB deals with that very real reality. We meet Caroline or Caro, who is an Olympic marathon athlete who has a career ending injury. Fast forward some time and she marries a prince. What follows is a completely engrossing, harrowing and alarming account of her life. I cannot emphasize enough how fantastic the writing and storytelling is. I FLEW through this book. Could not turn the pages fast enough. It was all I thought about for the few days that I had the pleasure of reading it. Besides the book being fabulous, it was also nice to read a book that I didn’t feel I had read before. I am so grateful to have read it and I know this will definitely make it on my top books of 2022 list. It was that good. Barbara Bourland is now an auto buy author for me. 🏆🏆

Review Date: 07/25/2022
Publication Date: 07/19/2022
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i've been gradually reading this over the past few weeks which has meant caroline has cemented herself in my mind as a real princess of a far off land. i was invested in her running career, her family, and the way her life changed slowly and then all at once after she marries finn, the prince of lucomo. really enjoyed this!!!!
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When I was a young girl, I believed that the life of a princess would be the best life one could ever live. As I grew up, as I grew older, I began to see through the gauzy veil that’s thrown over the eyes of little girls. In my more mature years, I finally began to see the truth.
Princess Diana was my first difficult lesson in the art of being a princess. And Princess Charlene; surely now we’re keen enough to read between the lines. And history, when it actually tells the bare truth, is riddled with women who were destroyed after serving their purpose of providing an heir.
Barbara Bourland takes this taboo subject and writes a heartbreaking story from Caroline, who at one time was a record-breaking long-distance runner. Caroline talks to us throughout the book; about her childhood, her dreams, the accident that ruined her career, and how she met Finn as they were both recovering. As Caroline talks, we see her slowly being reshaped; her image first, her lifestyle, and her new royal family. The gauntlet her soon-to-be mother-in-law runs Catherine through is enough to give her fair warning, but Caroline sees no other choice.
With parallels to actual historical princesses, this book of fiction seems so natural, so exposed; euphoric happiness at one moment and dark depression the next. After the last page, you’ll have to remind yourself that Caroline is a figment of the author’s mind. But truly, is she?
Thanks so much to Penguin Group- Dutton for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I started and stopped this book too many times and finally just quickly finished it to be done.  What this woman gave up to become a princess/brood mare was unforgiveable and then to literally to held prisoner. The book starts off with her escape attempt and left me questioning if she was thinking about her children at all. This book was really slow but has so many good reviews I have to wonder if I was reading the same book.
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I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into with this book. The cover elicited almost this mystical retro feel and the concept intrigued me. It was giving TJR protagonist in the most basic terms. I haven't yet read any of Bourland's other books but I think I must now because of how incredible this book it.
It's a woman's decent into madness, a gilded cage, a story you already (think) you know the ending too. You start out seeing Caroline trying to run away and then her journey into the lions den.
It's heartbreaking, it's shocking, and yet you want to root for Caroline. You want to help her and hug her even at her worst, especially then when she is the most falsified and the most trapped.

I truly loved this book and the story therein and plan on purchasing a copy for myself.
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Who ever thought that the life of a princess is like a storybook. This book explores that and much more. Interesting book, not quite what I thought it would be.
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LOVED LOVED LOVED -what a fantastic story! I was hooked from the beginning and just absolutely loved the direction this went.
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Captivating and engrossing - the kind of awful thing where you can't look away, I couldn't stop reading. 
 I found the protagonist, ex international athlete Caroline, rather narcissistic. 
 She was convinced she was special:
At 11 years old, she was a fast long distance runner, won all kinds of awards & was the fastest woman in the world in her early 20's.  After her fall during a race (which ended her career as a runner) a plastic surgeon reconstructed her face, making her very beautiful.  Men apparently couldn't keep their hands off her and she was traumatized by their attention.  She was attracted to Finn, the prince of a small, yet wealthy European country, because he was special, too.  Guards trailed him and people played up to him.  Caroline manipulated her way to be in the same place as Finn, to attract him, yet make him chase her.  She then extracts a promise of marriage from him, she can't risk sleeping with him because she knows she only has her beauty and unavailability to make her special.  As an ex athlete, who is disabled & uneducated, she didn't have much luck having a career in the real world.
Caroline loves how protected she feels when she visits his palace and she makes a deliberate effort to be married to Finn, apparently without researching what it is really like to be royalty and not to have a private life.  So, I had a hard time feeling badly for her when she decided she did not want to live according to the palace rules.
Overall, it was a good read - the narrative is so realistic that I kept thinking I was reading nonfiction and the ending has an awesome twist!
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Thank you Penguin Group and NetGalley for providing an e-Arc for an honest review.

This book took me quite a while to get through being that the pace was slow and its also not a genre I usually read. It is beautifully written and broke my heart to read about Caroline's journey from Olympic gold medalist to Princess. She mentions at the beginning of the book while she is living in Lisbon that her time there was the only time she every truly lived for herself and chose what she could do with her body. From a young age she ran and trained to become an athlete thus giving her body over to training and her country when she became an Olympian. Then after marrying into a royal family she gave her body to be used a brood mare to produce perfect children and to be trapped behind the gilded bars of royalty. 

We read and watch fairytales and are shown the beauty and the elegance of these things as children. And we dream of strong princes coming to sweep us away and all of our problems with it. But as Caroline points out "The force of such beauty is meant to destabilize a person." I definitely felt destabilized while reading this book but I gathered that that was the intent.
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Unfortunately - sometimes my experience reading a book is impacted by my expectations going in. I had seen some amazing reviews for The Force of Such Beauty before I started and think I came in with expectations too high. 

This is the story of Caroline - a South African athlete who falls in love and marries the prince of a small country - and then learns being a princess isn’t at all what she thought it would be. It was a compelling read and definitely interesting to think about the parallels between the story and real life figures. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t go in with such high expectations. 

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance reading copy.
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I felt claustrophobic or smothered through much of this book, but this is because the writing is so good. It does a great job highlighting the darker side of monarchies. I love reading about independent women, so this was right up my alley. 

I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.
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I'm so sorry but I just didn't like this book. I read almost 70% before stopping. It was well written but I just can't make myself like books about athletes. No matter what I always end up hating them. 

This book is truly written well and the descriptions are very well done but it's just not for me.

Thank you #NetGalley for this ARC.
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