05 June, 2013

Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn [Annie, Central City Library]

What would happen if The Queen went AWOL? What is it like to never have time off? To live forever in the public gaze – with every action and emotion analysed? What is the significance of The Queen, and the monarchy, in today’s world?These, are other questions, are gently explored by a first-time novelist / long time historian and biographer (whose research into the Victorian era court shines through this novel).

In honour of Queen's Birthday weekend, I thought a review of this recent bestseller was in order. Step back a little from the joy and celebration of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee last year, and pick up this engaging and thoughtful read. One to quietly savour as a gentle pleasure. The hardback version I read gives a subtle tactile pleasure to the read, as well, with its unevenly trimmed pages.

The surrounding cast of six (with a few cameos) enables to author to explore many aspects of modern society including issues around class, age, race, sexuality, and war. Each character is given equal weight, as they support and interact with The Queen and each other.By escaping alone, she has the chance to meet a variety of people, and to hear their stories - very much the voice of the common people, from their own mouths.

This fictional version of The Queen is entirely human and sympathetically portrayed. She is an older woman, pondering her past and her actions.

Other popular culture and fictional representations of The Queen are mentioned, mainly Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader and the Helen Mirren portrayal in The Queen, both worth exploring.

Title: Mrs Queen Takes the Train
Author: William Kuhn
ISBN: 9780062208286 (hbk) / 9781743312872
Published: 2012
Publisher: Harper (hbk) / Allen & Unwin (pbk)

- Annie, Central City Library

1 comment:

  1. Annie, Thanks for this very kind review. Mrs. Queen and I are re-reading and savoring it ourselves.

    Bill Kuhn


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