Mrs. Queen takes the Train – William Kuhn

What would it be like if one of the most famous women in the world could wander about and not being recognised. To go out of her gate, walk to a shop and purchase some cheese, get in a taxi, get on a train, and talk to those who serve you, those sit with you on the train. To share the run of the mill, normal every day things that you have never experienced before.

William Kuhn’s novel Mrs.Queen takes the Train, takes this wonderful concept and applies it to The Queen. It seems Queen Elizabeth II  is feeling rather low, the world is moving on leaving her behind, she has lost her way somewhat, she has lost her mother and her sister, her children’s lives have taken a rather a different and very public path than what is expected of royalty and technology is beating her.

“Life beyond the palace walls was foreign to her”.

In a bid to do something to cheer herself she wants to revisit the formal Royal Yacht Britannia the place she felt the most relaxed. So her adventure begins…..

And as those who look after her, care for her and serve her realises that the Queen has stepped out on her own, they begin to make their own journeys to bring her back. The equerry and the butler. A lady in waiting and a dresser. A stable girl at the Mews and the shop assistant where the palace cheese comes from all follow the Queen.

This is a rather a fun read, and if like me you want to suspend belief and imagine what if The Queen could do such things, then this is rather enjoyable. It labours slightly too much on the whole Diana saga a bit for my liking, although I was rather amused by the possible scenarios and conversations that they all could have had “Diana stood at the other end and hung her head too, not in misery but in disguised defiance. The Duke paced back and forth, giving a naval rant as if to his most junior ratings. “what in the devil’s name do you think you two were doing? Everyone in this damnable country just wants you to be happy.”

This  is a minor point and actually if you know very little about some elements of the royal family this novel gives you some of the facts without even realising it. General perception and opinion is covered well about the royal family and I think the author has certainly captured the fascination that many of us from all over the world have with The Queen and what goes on beyond the palace walls. Gently funny without being  rude, all Terribly British I suppose.

The novel does jump around a bit and at times I felt it did not flow as it could have done. Characters popping up suddenly,  and the reader expecting them to just accept them with little introduction was a bit presumptive. I got a bit lost with the whole Rebecca/fox-hunting/boyfriend plot.  The  yoga element was actually unnecessary, The Queen has taken up yoga and it is through various poses that she copes with life and the chapters of this book are divided. The book would have worked well without this in, for me detracted from the story. A fun read to add to a collection if you have read The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett and The Queen and I by Sue Townsend.

Royal fantasy escapism, posing the questions what if the Queen went out on her own and got on a train…..and who is to say that she has not done this already………


Book Club #10 – Gold – Chris Cleave – POSTPONED

Our tenth book club was meant to have been earlier this month. However, on a very cold Monday morning, when the white stuff started to fall I did wonder whether it would be a good idea to go ahead with the evenings book club. As some come not very far, but far enough to be dealing with getting back in the dark, with the blizzard conditions, the wind was whipping it up a frenzy. I suppose it ended up being all about Health and Safety!! Ironically enough come about 9pm it seemed to have subsided but you can never tell with the British weather.

A quick text to everyone and they all thought it was a good idea, to postpone until the next month.

So we are going to do a double book club – Gold by Chris Cleave and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Good job we are starting in the afternoon this time. So double report next time.

Update – You can now read all about my Book Club’s response to Gold here