by Robert Lacey
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Source: sent by publisher
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary from harpercollins.com:
Elizabeth II was not born to be queen. She came into the world on April 21, 1926, the equivalent of the modern Princess Beatrice, first-born daughter of the Duke of York, destined to flutter on the royal fringe. So while Lilibet was brought up with almost religious respect for the crown, there seemed no chance of her inheriting it. Her head was never turned by the personal prospect of grandeur—which is why she would prove so very good at her job. Elizabeth II's lack of ego was to prove the paradoxical secret of her greatness.
For more than thirty years, acclaimed author and royal biographer Robert Lacey has been gathering material from members of the Queen's inner circle—her friends, relatives, private secretaries, and prime ministers. Now, in The Queen, Lacey offers a life of the celebrated monarch, told in six succinct chapters, accentuated by elegant color and black-and-white photographs that capture the distinctive flavor of passing eras and reveal how Elizabeth II adapted—or, on occasions, regally declined to adapt—to changing times.
With Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee this month, I realized that I really didn't know that much about the Queen. During my lifetime, she is someone who was just always there, as a fact-the sky is blue, Elizabeth is the Queen of England-something that doesn't change. I wanted to know more about the Queen, and this shorter bio seemed like a great place to start. I've seen complaints about the shorter length of this book (about 160 pgs) but I had no problem with that, I wanted a less overwhelming way to dive into her history.
I did enjoy reading the book, and I learned a lot about the royal family, but there were some drawbacks as well. I felt like it was more of a family history during Elizabeth's lifetime instead of her personal bio. The early chapters about her childhood up to the coronation were fantastic and I learned a lot about her. But then the book seemed to focus on the scandalous exploits of the other members of the royal family (well, mostly Charles and Diana) and how Elizabeth reacted to that instead of her own story of things she did as Queen.
Again, it was really fun and addicting to read about Charles and Diana's exploits because I was too young to know what was going on when it was really happening so all of the scandal was new to me. But at the same time, I read the book to read about Queen Elizabeth.
Sometimes I got the feeling that book had a wishy-washy viewpoint on the royal family. Sometimes they were portrayed in a positive light, but sometimes they were portrayed more scandalously. I, personally, found myself wanting to read the story through rose-colored glasses I suppose, but it wasn't written that way. I did love the things that were mentioned at the very end of the book, which was actually the wedding of William and Kate. The author spoke of forgiveness for the past and looking to the future and I think it was a great way to sum up the roller coaster ride of the royal family during Elizabeth's reign.
Bottom Line: A great primer for the history of the royal family during Elizabeth's lifetime, but I would have loved to see more of a focus on the Queen herself.
Check out a preview of the book on the HarperCollins website: http://www.harpercollins.com/browseinside/index.aspx?isbn13=9780062124463