This whole book is the most wonderful side-eye to ignorant white people. I love it.
Princess Caraboo shuns her life of trauma and servitude along with her old name Mary Wilcox, and is discovered wandering in a village near Bristol, clearly distressed. Rescued and taken to a pub, Caraboo is mistaken for a member of foreign royalty, based on her manners, her language and her exoticism. Taken by the effusive and shallow Cassandra to Knole Park to be studied by her mother Lady Worrall, Caraboo continues to be the warrior princess they all presume her to be… whilst also understanding every word she says.
Meanwhile, Cassandra’s equally shallow but also terrible brother Fred returns to Knole, determined to out Caraboo as a fraud.
This book is a story about white ignorance, exoticism, racism, and wealth privilege, alongside the profound effects trauma can have on an individual (more on that in the content note at the bottom of the page). Best bit? It’s a true story.
Catherine’s prose is witty and beautiful, and I was absolutely drawn in by this story – as well as a desire to punch Fred squarely in the mouth for his treatment of sex workers in the second chapter.
What a winner to start off the British Books Challenge with!
Interested? Buy it here. YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY DO THAT.
What to read next:
- Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
- Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence
- The Hate U Give by Angie C Thomas (preorder)
Please note, this book opens with a violent act of sexual abuse which some readers may find distressing in the section called The End of Mary Wilcox. If you want to skip that part, start at Chapter 1. The main plot point you will have missed is that Caraboo had a still born child called Solomon.