From a look at the Jackie O’s fraught relationship with her sister to an intimate portrait of Camilla Bowles.
Meghan and Harry’s decision to step down from their positions as working members of the British royal family shocked the media and continues to fascinate people worldwide. Which is what makes the recently released Finding Freedom all the more fascinating. In the new biography, royal reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand offer a behind-the-scenes look at the couple, from their first date to their jaw-dropping announcement. Scobie tells Bustle that the couple "seem very different in the pages of some of the British tabloids compared to the people we saw in front of us" — a fact that inspired the two writers to set the record straight.
But if you’ve already sped through the tell-all and are looking for more books like Finding Freedom, here are 18 books that take you all the way from Hollywood to Highgrove House — while offering intimate and vulnerable portraits of some of our most beloved cultural figures. Because if you’re infatuated with Meghan and Harry’s headline-making love story, just wait until you read about Camilla and Charles’.
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After she posed for a picture in which she played chess naked against a clothed Marcel Duchamp, 20-year-old Eve Babitz became Hollywood’s highest-ranking It girl. Nearly a decade later, Joan Didion discovered Babitz’s knack for writing — a talent for which she has never been fully recognized. Lili Anolik aims to get Babitz the recognition she deserves, and revisits her salad days in L.A. in the Sixties and Seventies, in Hollywood’s Eve.
Written by Jacques Cartier’s great-granddaughter, The Cartiers tells the story of how three brothers built a luxury empire in the late 19th century. With ties to royalty, the family rubbed elbows with the movers and shakers of the world. Read all about their glittering story here.
Royal watchers hungry for salacious and conspiratorial details can’t do better than Wild Game: Zoetrope co-founder Adrienne Brodeur’s memoir of being party to her mother’s extramarital affair when she was only 14 years old. Examining the impact of her mother’s secret on the lives of all involved — Brodeur, her parents, and her mother’s lover — Wild Game is a force to be reckoned with in contemporary nonfiction.
Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, takes center stage in this utterly devourable biography from Craig Brown. Born into one of the richest families in the world, Margaret rose to glamorous prominence after her sister’s coronation in the 1950s. Nevertheless, she lived a life marred by controversy and disappointment, which Brown lays bare in Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret.
Meghan made headlines when she became the first American to marry into the modern-day British royal family, wedding Prince Harry, the sixth in line to the throne. The former Suits actress is hardly the first American woman to marry an English noble, however. Anne de Courcy’s The Husband Hunters examines the "Dollar Princesses": Gilded Age socialites who breathed new life into the British gentry.
She was the maid of honor at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, and later served as a lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret. Known for her sharp tongue and biting wit, Anne Glenconner dishes on her life as one of the most famous royal-adjacent folks alive in Lady in Waiting.
Because racism has fueled much of the media and public criticism concerning the Duchess of Sussex, readers who loved Finding Freedom should look to other behind-the-scenes tales of strong, Black women. One such title, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, examines the lives and times of Black women who created their own communities and ways of life in the northeast at the turn of the 20th century.
Another book focusing on Black women’s excellence, Martha S. Jones’ Vanguard analyzes the work of Black suffragettes, both before the ratification of the 19th amendment — which saw white feminists cut ties with their Black sisters in order to secure support for white women’s enfranchisement — and on the road to the Voting Rights Act.
Often vilified in the media for her affairs with Prince Charles — before, during, and after his marriage to Princess Diana — Camilla’s story reads like that of a modern-day Cinderella. From an upper-middle-class childhood in East Sussex, to her on-and-off relationship with Charles — for whom she was deemed a poor match, resulting in his marriage to Diana — and finally to her induction into the British royal family as the Duchess of Cornwall, The Duchess has all the juicy details on the woman the world once loved to hate.
One of them became First Lady. The other became a Polish Princess. Yet when Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died in 1994, she left her younger sister nothing but a snide comment in her will. Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger explore the complicated relationship of John and Janet Bouvier’s daughters in The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters.
If there is such a thing as a tell-all novel, Carrie Fisher’s former personal assistant, Byron Lane, has published it. Centering on Kathi and Charlie — a former sci-fi actress and her would-be P.A. — A Star Is Bored draws from Lane’s time with Fisher, to uproarious results.
The grandson of Queen Victoria and uncle of Prince Phillip, Dickie Mountbatten not only pushed his nephew toward his long-lived romance with Queen Elizabeth II, but he also helped change the British royal family name forever. Read all about Dickie and his wife, Edwina, including their numerous extramarital affairs and the details of his alleged perversions, in The Mountbattens.
We can’t talk about high-profile, successful women without mentioning Michelle Obama. The former First Lady’s first memoir, Becoming, was the best-selling book of 2018, despite not being published until the middle of November of that year. Read Michelle O’s fabulous and heartfelt story for yourself after you finish Finding Freedom.
Much like Meghan, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) knows a thing or two about being an outsider. Born in Somalia, Omar immigrated to the United States as an asylum-seeker in 1995, and became a citizen in 2000. Her election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 made her the first woman of color to represent Minnesota in such a capacity. Read her whole story in This Is What America Looks Like.
Many people around the world believe the British monarchy is an outdated institution, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fascinated by it. Similar in its attraction, American debutante culture is a tight-knit world of social cues and who’s whos. Kristen Richardson unknots the mystery and magic of the ball in The Season.
Its first guest was a Vanderbilt. It hosted the Beatles in 1964. It was bankrupted by Donald Trump. The National Historic Landmark continues to lord dramatically over Central Park today. Read about its life and grandiose times in Julie Satow’s The Plaza.
Infamous after her messy divorce proceedings resulted in lurid photographs of her being shown in court, the Duchess of Argyll died mostly alone and largely friendless in 1993. Lyndsy Spence scrapes away the muck and mire to reveal the complicated woman at the center of the story in The Grit in the Pearl.
Supremes founder Mary Wilson tells the inside story of the ultimate girl group in Supreme Glamour. Tracing the group’s history from 1959 to their post-Diana Ross success, this book is the perfect read for audiophiles, biography lovers, and anyone else who just enjoys a good Cinderella story.
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