Top positive review
Up-to-date and well-written history
Reviewed in the United States on January 21, 2012
This is the most recent biography of William and Mary and the author, John Van der Kiste, uses the most up-to-date research. The book is well done. It is not only historically precise but highly readable with all historical allusions to people and events explained clearly. The alternation between the lives of these two people, a challenge for a biographer, flows smoothly. While the invasion of William has been called the "Glorious Revolution" since 1689, it was frequently not so very glorious to either William III or Mary II. Van der Kiste does a fine job of showing the many personal and political difficulties that they went through. Mary had a terrible conflict throughout her life between loyalty to her husband and to her father, the exiled James II. She was often lonely and a rift developed with her sister Anne that never healed. She always chose her husband over her father but her letters show a deep personal struggle. Her intelligence and graciousness were central to making the revolution ultimately acceptable to the English people. William was greeted joyously by the people but, as so often happened, the honeymoon with Parliament and popular opinion did not last long. Throughout his reign William consistently gave in to Parliament's demands. One reason was an understanding that was there from the beginning of his reign; another was that many of his interests (and deep personal roots and loves) were in the United Provinces and his beloved Orange and he had an abiding desire to protect his homeland from Louis XIV; and, in the last third of his reign, a third reason was just weariness of mind and health. For all the reasons Van der Kiste so well explains, the result was a different kind of England after William than before. The reign of William and Mary is the beginning of true Parliamentary leadership in England and the book is excellent in tracing that development through the lives of these two rulers. Both in England and America, events during the reign of William and Mary lie at the heart of our political processes .
This is an important book about a critical period in English history. The author does a fluent and historically accurate job of explaining both the personal and political issues at stake. It is a book that does both William and Mary justice.