"The Queen: A Life in Brief" Review

"The Queen: A Life in Brief"
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:  

The Queen
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.
My Review:

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


  1. Eh, perhaps not for me. All that drama

  2. I hadn't heard of this book yet. I too don't know very much about her as a queen - for all the queen's I know about this is not one which is sad as she is still a reigning Queen!

  3. I'm the same way, I was too young to understand what was happening during the Charles/Diana scandal before she died. Even though this one didn't always hold the same view of the royal family, the fact that it isn't insanely long seems like a plus. When I'm in the mood for a bio I might grab this one.

  4. Oh, it sounds like a pretty cool biography - for its length and all!
    Though yeah, I wish it focused more on her later on and not on the other people - like Charles and Diana.

    Thanks for the review, I think I'm going to try to find t his biography :D

  5. I want the history and the drama so maybe a longer book would be for me.

  6. I've never heard of this one thanks for sharing. I like the premise.

  7. This sounds like a really interesting book, even if it couldn't decide how to view the Royal family! I think a lot of people wouldn't know much about them and this could be a great starting point!

  8. I don't really enjoy reading biographies for some reason. Maybe I haven't read the right one yet.
    That is a very interesting family though. Too bad you couldn't find out more about her instead of the wild youngin's lol

  9. I don't know much about her either.
    Thanks for review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog


Thanks so much for your lovely comments!