An absolute delight of a debut novel by William Kuhn-author of Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books-Mrs Queen Takes the Train wittily imagines the kerfuffle that transpires when a bored Queen Elizabeth strolls out of the palace in search of a little fun, leaving behind a desperate team of courtiers who must find the missing Windsor before a national scandal erupts. Reminiscent of Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader, this lively, wonderfully inventive romp takes readers into the mind of the grand matriarch of Britain's Royal Family, bringing us an endearing runaway Queen Elizabeth on the town-and leading us behind the Buckingham Palace walls and into the upstairs/downstairs spaces of England's monarchy.
In his first novel, historian Kuhn (Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books) attempts yet another imagining of the inner life of Queen Elizabeth II. Royalty is a lonely-if-privileged existence in the 21st century, and the queen has endured years of sordid scandals and stoic service. When she hears that the former royal yacht, Britannia, is moored in Scotland, she decides to visit, hoping to relive some happy memories. Disguised in a hoodie, she slips from the palace unnoticed. Upon discovering her gone, a motley crew of palace servants forms a search party. Included are the Queen's down-on-her-luck lady-in-waiting, Anne; a dedicated butler; an equerry just back from Iraq; a young mistress of the Mews; the queen's longtime dresser, Shirley; and a cheese shop clerk and sometime paparazzo. All are hoping to coax the monarch to return before the tabloids, or MI5, get wind of the adventure. Kuhn explores not only the queen's inner life, but the Downtown Abbey style-tensions between servants and royals, the old guard and the new. The servants are the real stars here, distinguishing this from other Elizabethan imaginings. Royal watchers and students of class alike will enjoy this smart, if familiar, tale. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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October 15, 2012
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