I simply loved this. Mary Lynn told me about it and all I had to hear was “the queen goes out on her own and takes a train and goes about incognito” and I wanted to read it. But, and here’s why I loved it, it turned out to be so much more than that. I expected just a jolly light read and have found myself thinking quite a bit about this in the few days since I’ve finished it. I’ll admit to a fascination with royalty, especially since Will and Kate got married (and now are having a baby!), but this was also a great book to read after having read ever so many WWII and other historical British books. I know it’s fictitious, but there are definitely some factual details in there that why wouldn’t I believe? And you know what, let’s just think of the Queen as a totally made up character, in that case the author has created a wonderful character. I especially enjoyed her descriptions of her marriage to Philip and how they made it work and toughed things out. She talks about having gone through the war and doing things because you had to, not because what you wanted to, and you made things work and you were strong because of it. I felt like that must indeed be very true for people of a certain age in England. It fits in with every other book I’ve read. The queen doing the washing up was wonderful, or when she talked with her elderly lady in waiting and dresser. Royalty and staff, yet women of a certain age who understand each other’s world. There were also many references to the events portrayed in the film, The Queen, which is about the Queen’s response after Diana’s death. In this world the author has created you see a character who is strong, but like even the strongest among us, has self doubts and a bit of sadness from time to time. She was such a sympathetic character, and extremely likable as she accepts and acknowledges her faults.
There were just so many things to like in this book-the other characters and their stories, the Queen’s grace and ability to say the right things, the behind the scenes look at palace life, and of course, what attracted me in the first place-the Queen’s jaunt outside the palace mingling with the common folk in unintentional disguise. That the jaunt leads to her staff desperately trying to locate her makes it a little adventure, too. But it’s the reasons for the outing and what she gets out of it that give the book its heart and soul.
Highly recommended and making my top ten list of the year.