Title: Red, White and Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St. Martins Press (Macmillan)
Genre: Romance (LGBTQ+)
I wanted my first review on this blog to be a book I really loved and there’s no book I love more than Red, White and Royal Blue.
You know those books that you think about constantly even when you’re not reading? The books that you make time for, even if that means getting up earlier so you can squeeze in more reading time? Books you can’t wait to keep reading but are terrified of finishing because you don’t want it to end?
Red, White and Royal Blue was one of those books for me. It is, without a doubt, one of my favourite books of all time. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. If I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it and counting down the hours until I could pick it back up. I really wanted to reread it immediately but I restrained myself and will instead add it to my reread pile, which I’m hoping to get to later in 2020.
I don’t even know where to start. I loved every single one of the 418 pages. I don’t think I have ever smiled and laughed so much whilst reading a book. It was a thoroughly heart-warming read and I have recommended it to pretty much everyone since reading it.
This book begins in an alternate version contemporary American, where the successor to President Obama is female. Her 2020 re-election is approaching and the novel centres on the feud between her son, Alex, and the Prince of England, Henry. After an incident threatens diplomatic relations, they are forced to feign friendship. Alex and Henry soon transition from can’t-bear-to-be-in-the-same-room-as-you to can’t-bear-to-be-apart-from-you and their hate-to-love romance is amazing.
Alex and Henry are there for each other when no one else is and each understands the difficult position of being the children of public figures. They’re both going through a lot of personal difficulties but together they face the challenges that come their way and — yes, it’s cheesy — prove that love conquers all.
I loved Henry and Alex, as well as practically every other character, and I would love an exact retelling but from Henry’s perspective. They are both wonderfully complex and intricate characters and I love how their reluctance to like each other gradually turns into a friendship and blossoms into a romance. I really loved the mixed media element to the novel, with an exchange of beautiful texts and emails. Henry’s letter writing was a beautiful part of the novel and I am a little annoyed at myself for being so consumed with reading that I didn’t note down or tab all the parts I loved. But, I will definitely tab this book when I reread it.
The diverse cast of characters in this novel was another equally amazing element. I loved the commentary and critique, from sexism and racism to the stigma attached to drug abuse. There is also discussions of homophobia and the lack of representation and diversity in positions of power. It also challenges the idealisation of the glamour of royal life and highlights the lack of freedom, rigid (and antiquated) principles and the inability to live as yourself. I know a lot of British readers disliked the inaccurate portrayal of the British monarchy but it’s an alternate reality so I didn’t pay that much attention to the it.
Red, White and Royal Blue is definitely my favourite book of 2019. I am desperate to read more of Casey McQuiston’s work and I will be waiting eagerly for 2021.
I would love some recommendations for books you think I’ll enjoy. What books couldn’t you get out of your head?