The Force of Such Beauty

by Barbara Bourland

(Dutton,  July 2022)

Editor’s note:  Ms. Bourland was unavailable for a video interview with Authorlink® at this time.

Barbara Bourland writes compelling page-turners that tell timeless women’s stories in new and engaging ways. Cast in the mold of universal literary forms—the detective story, the thriller, the fairytale—they weave in and out of their genres until the plot turns inside out and the narrative, upon reflection, appears to be something else entirely.

Her debut, I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, examined the compulsion to control one’s appearance, and her second novel, Fake Like Me, addressed the worry of never being good enough. Now, Bourland deconstructs the princess trope through an unexpected and powerful examination of wealth, power, politics, and royalty in THE FORCE OF SUCH BEAUTY, which Dutton will publish on July 19, 2022.

It’s a story that seems to have all the trappings of a modern-day fairy tale, centered on a beautiful woman who’s swept off her feet by her prince and turned into the princess of a small, idyllic European kingdom. Caroline, a former Olympic marathon runner recently sidelined after a career-ending injury, is gorgeous, disciplined, and accustomed to being in
the spotlight. After she meets Finn, the handsome and charming prince of Lucomo, they fall madly in love. Quickly they’re engaged and then married, and Caroline is enveloped in palace life, struggling to learn the endless rules and expectations that everyone but she seems to understand. Wealth and privilege swiftly lose their luster, and despite her best efforts, she
always seems to be lacking in the eyes of the press, the palace courtiers, her inscrutable mother-in-law, and her own husband. As she tries to conform and be the good princess that’s demanded of her, Caroline loses her freedom, her identity, and even possibly her sanity. Determined to save herself and her children at any cost, she hatches a plan to reclaim her

Barbara Bourland was inspired to create the character of Caroline by the stories of Charlene Wittstock, a former Olympic swimmer who reportedly made at least two failed escape attempts before her wedding to Prince Albert of Monaco. The novel was also influenced by Princess Diana’s and Meghan Markle’s well-documented struggles in royal life. THE FORCE
OF SUCH BEAUTY is a clear-eyed, unflinching look at the princess fantasy as it’s upheld in the minds of so many women, exposing what it might really be like for someone who is governed down to how she looks, behaves, and even bears and raises her children.

“There will always be princesses. Yet—what must it take to spend each day two steps behind your partner, always in shadow? What must it take from you to discard yourself— modernity, even—in exchange for the illusion of safety? In the case of this book’s narrator, Caroline Muller, it takes everything. I’ve been possessed by Caroline, and by the desire to find genuine beauty in the life of a princess—something that gets to the utter tragedy of believing in any of it, at all.” —Barbara Bourland

Barbara Bourland is the author of two previous novels: I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, a Refinery29 Best Book of 2017 and Irish Independent Book of the Year; and Fake Like Me, a finalist for the 2020 Edgar Best Novel Award.

Her third novel, THE FORCE OF SUCH BEAUTY, was written with the support of an Independent Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council and will be published by Dutton in July 2022. Barbara Bourlandlives in Baltimore.
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“An immersive depiction of the glittering surface and rotten core of royal living, painted in
sumptuous and chilling detail.”—Kirkus

“Barbara Bourland dismantles the conventional princess story in The Force of Such Beauty to
explosively examine the real-life notions of fame, power, and womanhood.” —Veranda

“Barbara Bourland’s The Force of Such Beauty is like if My Year of Rest and Relaxation was
about Grace Kelly.” —Molly Odintz, Senior Editor for CrimeReads

“Fractures the familiar tale of ‘happily ever after’ and reimagines it with spectacular style,
vision, and substance. …Thoughtfully interrogates the trappings of marriage, status,
womanhood, and power, while reading as vividly and compulsively as a thriller.” —Jung
Yun, author of Shelter and O Beautiful

“A wayward girl is made a princess, and then? Luxury turns to boredom, fascination to fear,
fame to thralldom, and love to betrayal. Threads of beauty and dread follow our heroine’s
descent into the gilded lunacy of a royal kingdom that requires a princess to be glamorous,
grateful, and quiet. But Caro is no passive princess in a tower; she is smart, incisive, and
achingly real. I couldn’t put this book down until its explosive, heartrending, thoroughly
satisfying ending.” —Jennie Melamed, author of Gather the Daughters

“A fierce spin on the fantasy of marriage that is pacey, propulsive, and fun… Its detailed and
ultimately revolting catalogue of excess and materialism creates a compelling atmosphere of
claustrophobia… [in a] setting [that] cleverly draws one’s thoughts from the personal
implications of a marriage to the wider world of commerce, status and power.”
—Ros Anderson, author of The Hierarchies

“A dazzling spiderweb, a richly imagined, chilling spin on the girl-meets-prince fairy tale that
scrambles notions of power and femininity. With a sense of spellbound dread, we’re seduced
along with its complicated heroine into a magnetic world of startling beauty and tragic
costs.”—Lauren Acampora, author of The Paper Wasp