August 03, 1981 12:00 PM

by Barbara Cartland

Cartland, the paperback duchess of naive romantic tales, was the obvious choice to do the fluffy text for this picture book. As the stepgrandmother of Lady Diana, the prolific novelist (her 300th tome was published in July on her 80th birthday) is practically a member of the royal family. In her introduction, Cartland claims that “far more Royalty in Europe have made love-matches than anyone had ever imagined.” The first she cites is William the Conqueror, and Cartland, who makes Marabel Morgan seem like a radical feminist, claims, “Like women all through the ages Matilda [of Flanders] was thrilled to be conquered by a masterful man.” Cartland also reports that Mme. de Maintenon, who married philandering Louis XIV after his first Queen, Marie Thérèse, died, wrote to the Bishop of Chartres when she was 67 “saying she was extremely tired and asking whether she could now refuse to go to bed with the King twice a day. These painful occasions,’ she said, were now too much for her.” The Bishop told her to do her duty. Romantic Royal Marriages briefly chronicles 60 royal couplings, concluding with Charles and Di, of course. (Beaufort, $9.95)

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