Ellen Emerson White’s The President’s Daughter books
I’m usually the type who insists on reading a series in order, but I made an exception last year when I read Ellen Emerson White‘s Long May She Reign without having read the previous three books in her President’s Daughter series. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I absolutely loved it, and after reading The President’s Daughter, White House Autumn, and Long Live the Queen, I can say that even knowing what was going to happen in these three books, I still adored them and still found them compelling.
Meg Powers’ mother is Katharine Vaughn Powers, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and rising star in the Democratic Party. The Senator has been approached about running for President and decided to go for it. Although almost no one thinks she’ll be able to do it, she wins the election. (But you knew that, right?) This means Meg and her two younger brothers receive increasing media attention, the family moves into the White House, and Meg must leave her old friends behind in Boston while trying to make new friends in Washington, DC, even though all her classmates know she’s the President’s daughter. More traumatically, the Powers family and the entire nation face two major crises when Meg’s mother is the target of an assassination attempt in White House Autumn and Meg is kidnapped by terrorists in Long Live the Queen.
If Meg were a real person, I’d probably be intimidated by her smarts and strength. But as the main character in a fiction series, she is absolutely, completely compelling. White uses a limited third-person point of view that is more intimate than some books written in first-person, fleshing out Meg’s character and giving her depth, complexity, and a sense of humor. More than that, though, everyone feels real, except maybe Preston, who is excessively perfect, albeit in a very appealing way. In all three books, Meg seems like a real teen, put into environments and situations that ring true and seem plausible. (Although what are the odds of the President being shot and her daughter being kidnapped in less than one year? Still, achieving such realism in spite of this has got to be more difficult than making vampires or faeries seem believable, don’t you think? Because White couldn’t create her own universe or mythology, but needed to stick with what we know, or think we know, about life for presidential kids.) And Meg’s relationship with her parents, especially her mother, is believably complicated. They love each other, but having a mother who is President of the United States stresses things.
As with Long May She Reign, these are three intelligent books about an intelligent girl from an intelligent family. White does not write down to her audience at all and does not shy away from difficult situations. The first third of Long Live the Queen, when Meg is captured and tortured, is seriously intense. It’s not gratuitous, but not for the faint of heart, either, although the payoff in the rest of Long Live the Queen and all 720 pages in Long May She Reign is so worth it. Nor does she prevaricate about politics. The President, and Meg, are decidedly liberal with strong opinions, but with enough political savvy to know what it takes to get things done.
Simply put, these are awesome, awesome books, and I’m glad The President’s Daughter, White House Autumn, and Long Live the Queen have been republished, since I somehow never read them when I was younger. I can’t speak about differences between the new and old editions, but whatever updates were made were integrated well. Besides obvious things like cell phones and a few references to George W. Bush, I couldn’t figure out where the updates occurred. Highly recommended, particularly for readers looking for books about strong, smart young women who don’t care about name-dropping or designer labels.
Check out Ellen Emerson White on the Feiwel & Friends blog (posts one, two, and three). Also reviewed at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy (original editions) and The Moving Castle.