Saturday, August 15, 2009

"England's royals are given the sack and go on the dole..."

The Queen and I is one of those books that's so many things. By Sue Townsend, it's the story of what happens when Britain elects a new Prime Minister who promptly abolishes the monarchy, and the royal family are sent to live in council housing. This book is some bizarre combination of hilarious and mildly depressing. You get the most bizarre sentences in it, just all these normal things like trying to open a tin of corned beef or buy bread at a supermarket, except it's the Queen of England doing it and she's always called 'the Queen.' One comes out of it quite liking the royal family (except perhaps Prince Phillip and Princess Margaret), but the Queen is especially admirable. She adapts to her new life well, and she's rather, well, plucky. One feels a bit impolite calling Her Majesty 'plucky.' There's a sentence I like in the book, reprinted on the cover (mine isn't the one I have the picture of), which says, "How do you talk to someone whose head you are used to licking and sticking on an envelope?" The book is basically an exploration of this, and I love how used the neighbourhood gets to the royal family, and how they make friends with all these perfectly ordinary people. It's one of those books that just highlights the extremely singular way the English react to things.
I spent most of the book wondering how I wanted it to end, and never decided, so I don't know if I like how it did end but at least it wasn't a dissatisfying ending. I positively raced through the book, read in two days, which is always a sign I've enjoyed it. I wouldn't mind reading a biography of the Queen; there's probably a good one out there.

Wouldn't it be strange having novels written about you? I wonder if she reads them.

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