Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Book Review for The Other Princess by Denny S. Bryce

 The Other Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria's Goddaughter by Denny S. Bryce

Publication October 3, 2023 by William Morrow

Genre:  Historical Fiction


Taken from Goodreads:  A stunning portrait of an African princess raised in Queen Victoria’s court and adapting to life in Victorian England—based on the real-life story of a recently rediscovered historical figure, Sarah Forbes Bonetta.

With a brilliant mind and a fierce will to survive, Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a kidnapped African princess, is rescued from enslavement at seven years old and presented to Queen Victoria as a “gift.” To the Queen, the girl is an exotic trophy to be trotted out for the entertainment of the royal court and to showcase Victoria’s magnanimity. Sarah charms most of the people she meets, even those who would cast her aside. Her keen intelligence and her aptitude for languages and musical composition helps Sarah navigate the Victorian era as an outsider given insider privileges.

But embedded in Sarah’s past is her destiny. Haunted by visions of destruction and decapitations, she desperately seeks a place, a home she will never run from, never fear, a refuge from nightmares and memories of death.

From West Africa to Windsor Castle to Sierra Leone, to St. James's Palace, and the Lagos Colony, Sarah juggles the power and pitfalls of a royal upbringing as she battles racism and systematic oppression on her way to living a life worthy of a Yoruba princess.

Based on the real life of Queen Victoria’s Black goddaughter, Sarah Forbes Bonetta’s story is a sweeping saga of an African princess in Victorian England and West Africa, as she searches for a home, family, love, and identity.


My Thoughts:  Princess Sarah Forbes Bonetta was born a princess.  Her early life was not privileged but she was given a privileged life when she was given to Queen Victoria as a “gift.”   The Other Princess starts with Sarah’s birth as a young daughter of a king to becoming the goddaughter of Queen Victoria. 

 I had no idea that Queen Victoria had a black goddaughter, one she took care of, looked out for, and made sure that her life was worth something.   Being Queen, Victoria had the ability to make decisions for Sarah without being questioned.   There were decisions she made that gave Sarah a step-up in life and there were some decisions made that had me question if she really had her best interests in mind. 

 The Other Princess had me wanting to learn more about Princess Sarah and her difficult life.   I could not put the book down and while it is not always an easy read due to the life Sarah lived, it is a book that pulled me in, kept me turning pages, and had me not wanting to leave the story I was reading.   

Thank you William Morrow for a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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Meet Denny S. Bryce (taken from her website):  I write historical fiction, and my third novel, The Other PRINCESS: a novel of Queen Victoria’s Goddaughter, will release from William Morrow Books on October 3, 2023.  My first two novels, WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES (an Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller) and IN THE FACE OF THE SUN, from Kensington Books, were dual-timeline novels that explored the 1920s in Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively, and the entertainment industry. Each novel featured a cast of courageous, flawed, adventurous, and sometimes dangerous female protagonists.

My novels explore the African American and/or Black experience in well-researched stories that I am proud to share as one of the Black authors worldwide telling these stories.

A former public relations professional, I spent more than 20 years running my marketing and public relations firm. For nearly 10 of those years, however, I wrote and read Buffy/Spike fan fiction. I am a devoted fan of genre television, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Angel (the TV series) fit the bill. These days, I am revisiting my love of classic film, jazz, and R&B (with a bit of hip-hop and rap thrown in because–why not?).

Before fanfiction and my days as a PR Diva, I was a professional dancer, part-time singer, and “bad” actress. I worked with professional dance companies in Chicago and New York and was cast in a theatrical production, which almost debuted off-off-off-Broadway. In college, I was a theater and dance major with a minor in history. But my love of American, European, and African history I credit to my maternal grandmother, Ella Elizabeth Joseph, who immigrated from Kingston, Jamaica, to New York City in 1923. I also must give my maternal grandfather some love, too. He was born in French Guiana and fought in the Great War (WWI) in France. In exploring my ancestry, like many African Americans, my family’s roots are in West Africa, today’s Nigeria. I am also first generation Bermudan (on my father’s side) and second-generation Jamaican (on my mother’s side).

I could go on and on about my family and my adventures, but those tales are part of the reason I write–I love storytelling–and I have many to write and share:)!

I am represented by Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates. Currently, I live in Savannah, Georgia, but I’m formerly from Washington, DC., Chicago, and New York City. Yes, I’ve moved around.

I love to travel and like to say I’m always a toothbrush away from my next flight to the nearest beach or mountaintop.


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