Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train

Here's a book recommendation for you.

Do you have a fascination with Britain's royal family? Are you a fan of the novels of Alexander McCall Smith? Then this book is for you, especially if, from time to time, you enjoy a light casual read. 

 I would prefer not to give away the plot, so suffice to say that the main character is a fictional present-day Queen Elizabeth II who makes the astonishing decision one day to have an adventure out in the real world, alone, sans security, ladies in waiting etc. etc.  She manages surprisingly well, encountering all kinds of ordinary and helpful British folk. Of course, when The Queen goes missing from her sitting room, excitement ensues and the hunt is on. The frantic activity as the chase is launched is a distinct contrast to the quiet serenity of the missing monarch.

William Kuhn’s portrayal of the queen is honest, gentle and compassionate. It is hard to imagine what it would be like to find oneself in her kind of life – a life of privilege, yes, but also a life constricted in so many ways, with little room for creativity or spontaneity such as it has been for more than 60 years. Kuhn has The Queen and others remember significant events from earlier in her life and he even integrates some vintage photographs into the text . We, the readers, begin to get a feeling for what it might be like to be The Queen.

Her life-long experiences with people of all kinds have given The Queen an assortment of social tools which help her to cope with life “outside” at the same time as allowing her to maintain her anonymity.We begin to be impressed with her ability to adapt.

The members of staff, following/searching for The Queen are a diverse bunch, each with an interesting back story. They come together in unexpected ways and we can appreciate the way in which they (and we) can be enriched by those around us.

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train is a quick and captivating read. It’s hard to put down and at the end we wish we could follow the characters just a little bit longer. Maybe there will be a sequel, Mr. William Kuhn?

Finally, I found myself wondering as I made my way through this novel, whether the actual Queen would read it and if she did, would she be "amused"?