If the novel feels maddeningly aimless at times, it only serves to reinforce the central metaphor of a doomed aristocratic beauty crushed by the weight of expectation. “Diana probably only did end up where she was because she was a bit directionless,”... Whereas Jasmine’s case history could have been cut and pasted from any of Forrest’s previous books (“a spoiled princess marinated in childhood trauma … she felt intoxicating but was clearly toxic”), the characterisation of Steven is tenderly handled and shows real imaginative effort.
It's 1981, Charles and Diana have just got married and shy, working-class Steven meets the glamorous, glittering Jasmine, a rich girl from Notting Hill. United by their love of fashion and the feeling that they don't fit in, Steven and jasmine form a fast, fierce friendship, which is glorious... while it lasts. With hints of Brideshead Revisited and Emma Jane Unsworth's Animals, Royals is the coolest book you'll read this year.