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Queen Mother: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: Part 4 (Counting One's Blessings)

Queen Mother: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: Part 4 (Counting One's Blessings) [Kindle Edition]

William Shawcross
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

‘Enchanting, often moving and sometimes hilarious’ Daily Mail

Full of wit, hilarity, acute observation and a deeply held sense of duty, the Queen Mother’s letters give readers a vivid insight into the person behind the public face.

Here, in her own words, is her grief at the tragically early death of the King in 1952 and her determination to rise above that terrible blow and, despite her sadness, to find a new role for herself during the long years of widowhood.

‘The warm personality and humour of the late, much-loved Queen Mother shines through in her letters, as does her affection for all, whether below or above stairs’ Scotsman

‘Recaptures her effervescent charm, and the simple fact that she was a good egg’ Spectator

‘How one warms to her!’ Evening Standard

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Insight into the Queen Mother 12 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I started reading this book, I didn't think I was going to like it, but once I got into it I found it entertaining and interesting. Worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very normal loving human being 27 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
A delightful record of the inner thoughts and feelings of a special lady showing that whether royal or a commoner we all share the same love and concerns about our families and friends. Queen Elizabeth admits not knowing how to spell certain words - so common with most of us! Her stated continued feeling of loss after the death of her beloved husband - our King. How alone she felt when her daughter Lilibet - our Queen
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable 9 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very revealing letters, well put together. Couldn't put it down. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in 20th Century history and the royal family.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 17 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Got this for my wife along with a kindle, she loves both!!!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  67 reviews
95 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Official But Revealing: A Century Through One Woman's Life 6 Nov 2009
By John D. Cofield - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Its important to understand that William Shawcross has written an authorized or official biography of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. That means, as Shawcross states in his Introduction, that he was invited by Queen Elizabeth II to write her mother's life. Shawcross was given access to the Royal Archives and other private collections as well as tape recorded reminiscences made by the Queen Mother herself in her final years. He also interviewed hundreds of former servants and friends. In the Introduction, Shawcross emphasizes that he was given "absolute freedom to write as I wished." There is no doubt in my mind that The Queen and Royal Family did indeed allow him to write freely, knowing that he would craft a truthful but respectful chronicle. This is by way of saying that one should not read this work expecting sensational gossip or shocking "revelations". Others have written about such things, and no doubt many more will be written in coming years. This book portrays the Queen Mother much as she herself would wish to be portrayed.

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was born in August, 1900, the daughter of a wealthy family of Scots and English nobility. The ninth of ten children, she had a happy childhood unburdened by too much education, did nursing in World War I, and eventually made her debut with the prospect of making a brilliant match. She attracted one of the most brilliant names available, Prince Albert Duke of York, second son of King George V. After refusing him several times she agreed to marry him in 1923. She became an early royal superstar, beloved by the British for her charm and good humor. Her awkward, stammering husband gained new confidence with her help, and when his older brother abdicated in 1936, he was able, with the support of his wife, to ascend the throne and perform admirably as King George VI through World War II. After the King's death in 1952 the Queen Mother lived another fifty years, becoming an ever more greatly beloved matriarch with her bright smile, sparkling jewels, and elegant and befeathered wardrobe.

Shawcross does an admirable job detailing the Queen Mother's life, producing a detailed, almost day to day chronicle. In so doing he also provides a fairly good political history of Britain during the twentieth century albeit through the eyes of a woman whose upper class antecedents and milieu hardly made her sympathetic to many of the social reforms enacted during her lifetime. Her personal relationships with her husband, daughters, and grandchildren are also well but respectfully covered.

This is a well written biography with impeccable scholarship. If it does not satisfy the appetites of those who wish only to read scandal, it nevertheless will please those who remember the Queen Mother as a strong personality who helped guide her country and her family through some of their greatest and darkest hours.
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive, but lacks insight. 17 Feb 2010
By E. A. Montgomery - Published on
How can a book so carefully compiled, so exhaustively footnoted, so completely researched be lacking? One expects an official biography to present a carefully shaded version of a life, the problem with TQM:TOB is that there is no shading at all. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon is never reflected against her peers, she exists in a bubble of her own life without much to contrast her with. While the resurfacing of the tennis courts is covered in exhaustive detail, the true information about who she was is detailed without being defined. Context is sketchy at best, with personalities left unrevealed. Just taking the section of her engagement to Prince Albert - he goes from interest in a married woman to a three year obsession with Elizabeth seemingly overnight. No other person in their lives had an opinion on this, it seems, except for glancing references to their parents being vexed over the push/pull dynamic between the two. A major suitor who would obviously be in competition is mentioned, but Elizabeth's view on him is silent. When she writes that she never thought she would say yes the reader has no idea to what she is referring. Did she think she would never marry at all? (She does state she thinks marriage is a sad day) That she would never marry Albert? What has changed her mind? Why did it need changing?

Biography, at it's strongest, lets you feel as though you have glimpsed into the heart of a person. An interested reader will study original papers (of course) and peruse many books on the same subject for a variety of perspectives on the historical figure in question. The frustrating thing about TQM:TOB is that is reads more like a compilation of source material than a portrait of a life. Elizabeth is capable. Elizabeth is sickly. Elizabeth is beloved. Elizabeth is bereaved. Elizabeth is many things, but she is never defined. She never steps out from under the crown to reveal what is unique about her person. Perhaps the fault lies in this reader - with such a wealth of source material the answers may all be contained in the book. And yet on simple questions, her voice is silent. And without context or conjecture, Mr Shawcross is silent as well. This is an exceptionally detailed book, worth reading, but not a particularly rewarding one.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Saint Elizabeth 15 Jan 2010
By Ponette - Published on
I was very excited to see this book come out, because there hasn't been a recent book on the Queen Mother. Mr. Shawcross' work is indeed comprehensive, filled with detail and quite well researched. That said, however, it wasn't an enjoyable read. It was almost sterile in its portrayal of a remarkable woman who lived an entire century, almost like reading a pedantic Victorian diary. Yes, she was noble, yes, she had great dignity and preserved the integrity of the British monarchy, but that said, it was tiresome. She's portrayed as a noble saint (was there no one, save the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who disliked her?) who does no wrong. It's almost as if Mr. Shawcross, who was given extensive access to the palace resources, was afraid of offending her daughter (the present Queen). I've read references to the Queen Mother in other royal books, some not so flattering accounts, including her denials that she ever refused Bertie's proposal, and she comes across to me in this book as disingenuous and remote. I wasn't looking for any kind of scandal or even anything NEW about her, but the account was dry and in the end unsatisfying. I wanted to like this book, but it just seemed to me a waste of time when I was finished with it.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unexpected Queen 23 Nov 2009
By E M Hall - Published on
Eventhough with the majority of biographies you always know the ending, I still cried a little at William Shawcross's description of the Queen Mother's funeral in the final pages of his fascinating book on her life.

I am British and have lived in the US for 10 years. When the Queen Mother died in 2002 I was already here and paid little attention to what was going on back home at the time, only now realizing that both she and her younger daughter died within weeks of each other. What I had also never realized (given that she was already in her late 60's when I was born) was how much she did during the first and especially the second world wars to motivate, inspire and generally cheer up the people around her. Mr. Shawcross's description of the King and Queen during WWII gave me a far better understanding of that time than any lessons I took at school. This account also explained the relationship between Britain and the USA, the friendships between the King & Queen and the Roosevelts and the impetus that caused the USA to at last ally with Britain during WWII.

Also during this time, and until the King's death in 1952, the love story that was their marriage was a very rare thing to read about. His letters to her and hers to him, his wooing of her, her refusal of him and then the undying love, devotion and support that glued them together. This in itself gripped me and the description of the King's death again bought tears because you knew that she would not be able to cope without him. But she did (albeit with a deeply hidden sadness for her husband whom she remembered with a private mass every year on the anniversary of his death until she was too frail to go to chapel at the age of 101). For the next fifty years as the Queen Mother she remained a steadfast figure in British life fulfilling many national and international engagements supporting her regiments and charities along with official government and Royal duties. Her duty to her country and its people was paramount. Her dislike of change equally so but never expressed with unkindness. In some of her letters on life and religion she may have even been one of the very first "new agers" with her theories on what love really is, the use of homoeopathic medicine and life after death. She was a fascinating woman, filled with love, kindness, an unfailing sense of duty, stamina by the ton and an enjoyment of life, always remaining positive and willing to see the funny side of things which was to take her through almost 102 years.

William Shawcross's use of personal letters and interviews with those who knew and loved her and whom she loved in return gives the reader of this book a profound sense of who Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon really was, who she became and the legacy she leaves behind. It is a beautifully written tribute to a truly remarkable lady.
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very tedious storytelling...better than a sleeping pill 4 Nov 2009
By Baby Jane Hudson - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First off I need to tell you that I LOVE the woman - The Queen Mother! I wish I could say the same about this book. It is by far one of the most tedious books I have ever picked up. I, like Agatha the previous reviewer, found myself skipping entire sections of the book only to find I had not gone but a few years further into the story of her life and not missed a beat. Other parts of the book were surprisingly slim as to the importance of the matter being discussed. The author actually spent numerous pages on the 'controversy' of whether she was born in London or St Paul's Walden Bury(!).
The Author obviously intended this book to be the definitive Biography of a great woman but I'm sure her life was more interesting than he has portrayed. Too much attention and details, details, and even more details were given to the history of the world during her life than to her life itself. It would have been fun to get some juicy tidbits here and there but none were forthcoming. I so hoped to read what she really thought of the Duchess of Windsor and Princess Diana. Only one full page was devoted to the car crash that killed the Princess of Wales with an almost laughable emphasis that a "Drunken driver caused the crash". We all know Princess Margaret was a thorn in her mother's side at times and unfortunately nothing enlightening was given us as to their rocky relationship.
Also, surprising was the three paragraphs devoted to The Queen Mother's colon cancer (!). She obviously did not want any mention of the colostomy she HAD to have received in order to heal from the surgery. The author says she did not have one even temporarily. No mention was made of the letter she wrote to the World Ostomy Association in 1968 either. Many other things left out or thrown out by Prince Charles and QE2 as they were given advance copies to edit as they chose. Shades of Princess Beatrice throwing her mother Queen Victoria's letters and portions of her diaries into the fire.
I was anxiously looking forward to the date of release for this book after hearing that The Queen Mother had sat down, with tape recorder in hand, over the years to get the story right when it would be written.

This book was exhaustively researched and it is quite obvious. It will be considered a gem for historians years from now due to the listing of dates and daily activities (ad nauseum) but for the average reader it is quite boring.
Such a disappointment to read but it will be a valuable reference tool if I ever get caught in a game of Trivial Pursuit...
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