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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Elizabeth the Queen, by Sally Bedell Smith

Cover Image from RandomHouse

From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world's most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.

In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes "heiress presumptive" when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet thethirteen-year-old Lilibet as she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen's daily routines-the "red boxes" of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad,and the constant scrutiny of the press-as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends.

Let me preface all of my remarks with this...I love the Royal Family. I'll read just about anything that comes my way about them, except for the tabloids. 

That being said, I've read many books that were intellectually satisfying. I've read some terribly dry things. I've read tomes that were pedantic. And I've read books that were fluffy in their treatment.

And then there's Elizabeth the Queen. This is, by far, the most approachable and interesting biography of the Queen I've read. Sally Bedell Smith has written a very REAL and honest story of the Queen and her family. It is interesting and warm, not cold and plodding. I found myself hurrying home and through work and chores to settle in with this book. (I don't say that often at all.) 

It is, in fact, reflective of her changed public image--from a stodgy and stand-offish monarch, to the warm and loving "grandmother" image she has grown into in the last 15 years. Definitely one I will recommend and purchase for my library.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Random House through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

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