Saturday, June 26, 2010

Reading Royalty - Royal Visit 2010

Who would have thought that a pair of naughty runaway corgis could lead to a constitutional crisis in Great Britain. In The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, Queen Elizabeth follows her recalcitrant dogs onto the Westminster mobile library. Having spent very little time on the kitchen side of the property, she had no idea that the mobile library visited every week. Out of politeness - as one does - she borrows a book. Never a great reader - she was a doer, not a reader - she does finish this one as it is her duty to finish all that she begins. As we know, books are nefarious, in that one often leads to another. Soon, in an unqueenly-like fashion, she is faking illness to spend a day in bed with her latest novel. As she begins to neglect her royal duties, her staff must intervene. An light, funny novella to pass the time while waiting for the royal walkabout.

The Autobiography of the Queen by Emma Tennant has Queen Elizabeth disguised as Gloria Smith seeking solitude and anonymity in St. Lucia. After 50 years of being constantly in public service, she desired to experience life as she never had - independently. For the first time she had to make decisions about caring for herself, choosing clothes, carrying cash and shopping. In this funny and touching story, the Queen realizes, in her time away, her importance to her country, and comes to a greater understanding of her subjects' lives.

In Frances Itani's Remembering the Bones events take a darker turn. Georgina Danforth Whitley was born on the exact day in 1926 as Queen Elizabeth and as a result was always aware of their very different but parallel lives. Georgina was thrilled to be invited, along with 98 other people also born on April 21, 1926, to a birthday lunch at Buckingham Palace. En route, tragedy strikes, and her car plunges into a deep ravine. Immobilized and injured, but conscious, Georgina sustains herself by recalling her childhood, marriage and children, reflecting on the Queen's life, and naming the bones in her body. This is a tense, page-turning read as anxiety soars with Georgie's efforts to both measure and sustain her life.

Deadly Sin by James Hawkins. "Emotions run high when Queen Elizabeth II attempts to heal the schism between Christians and Muslims by attending a London mosque for Friday prayers. David Bliss, newly returned to duty while he tries to find a publisher for his novel, has the task of protecting the royal couple, but is caught off guard when an attack comes from an unexpected quarter. Meanwhile, Bliss's aging friend Daphne Lovelace needs help. Her elderly neighbours have died and apparently left their house to the family from hell. While Bliss desperately tries to protect the queen, Daphne puts on her oldest coat and takes up residence in a seniors' home as she tries to discover what really happened to her neighbours. Age apparently catches up with her, and in no time she appears as senile as the other inhabitants, but Trina Button in far-off Canada smells a rat and forces Bliss to take action. Is someone playing God? And what role does Jack the Ripper play?" - publisher

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