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3.7 out of 5 stars
Queen Camilla
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Fourteen years after "The Queen and I" was published, there is finally news from the former Royal Family, who were resettled by Republican prime minister Jack Barker to a council estate after the British electorate voted for a republic.

The royals are now electronically tagged and banned from leaving their Exclusion Zone, which is run by a private entrepreneur. In a republic where six million people already live in Exclusion Zones, Jack Barker is still the prime minister, but getting tired of office. In order to deliberately loose the forthcoming elections, he is introducing ever-weirder measures, including legislation against stepladders and dogs. The leader of the New Conservatives, Boy English, believes that the restoration of the monarchy is a vote winner.

It is against this backdrop that the Queen and her family (now including Princes Andrew and Edward as well as Camilla, wife of Prince Charles) continue their struggle for their survival - and their dogs' - survival. The appearance of Camilla's forgotten 'bastard son' Graham threatens William's position as the heir to the throne.

"Queen Camilla" is as funny as the "The Queen and I". You don't have to read the two books in the correct order, but it helps to see how the characters have evolved.

The book is an absolute treat, and Sue Townsend's masterful description of the Queen and her family leaves a profound impact on one's impression of the royals. I for one got to know the Queen a bit better, having read those books.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
« Queen Camilla » by Sue Townsend 2006 Penguin Books, UK

Sue Townsend is a very well-established comic novelist, and the light-hearted humour throughout « Queen Camilla » provides a welcome relief from the heavy- handed news reports that can make us heavy-hearted about the Royal Family on a daily basis. I read this book in the week between Prince Harry's well-delivered tribute at the Guard's Chapel on the Friday and his shambolic hung-over performance at Heathrow Airport the following Thursday. Townsend seems to have Harry's number exactly, and though he rarely appears in the novel at all, he was at one point suspected by Charles of having lobbed a brick tied round with a handwritten note saying « Yourl never be queen ». Near the end of the book Harry gets a 15-year-old neighbour on the council estate pregnant and agrees to marry her. Each member of the Royal Family receives piercing and perceptive treatment from Townsend, though she seems kindest about William - the only one in the family to take a real job and come home with callousses on his hands - and the Queen, whom everyone finds kind and caring, if a bit common in her tastes and interests, and who abdicates near the end.

In « Queen Camilla », the monarchy has been abolished and the Royal Family has been sent to live in an exclusion zone, along with « the criminal, the antisocial, the inadequate, the feckless, the agitators, the disgraced professionals, the stupid, the drug-addicted and the morbidly obese » - about 40% of the population. Tagged and watched on closed-circuit television, privacy is a thing of the past. Townsend touches all the bases, portraying government leaders and their public-private enterprise partners with the same astute and amusing good taste she brings to the Family. And let us not forget her portrayal of Vulcan, the hugely expensive national computer that knows all about our various aliments, our shopping history, our reading matter and everything else, trusted implicitly by the people but known by the police to be almost entirely unreliable. The `plot' such as it is, centres on the Prime Minister's attempt to lose the election by banning dogs, and therefore dogs - and their ability to talk to one another - play an important part in this story, as does Camilla's apparent inability to grasp the significance of her situation.

« Queen Camilla » is a fast and amusing read, which prompted a few gentle chuckles and touched a soft spot for our much beleagured Royal Family and our long-suffering electorate. And what the book speaks to, perhaps more than anything else, is the tremendous luxury of our freedoms, that such a book can be written and enjoyed, and no one is threatened, imprisoned, stoned or beheaded. Even in its mocking of our traditions, « Queen Camilla » is a celebration of all that we hold dear .
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This quirky, biting satire begins with the Royal Family having been exiled to council housing in what is called an Exclusion Zone - a place where the slappers, the morbidly obese, the criminal and other undesirables are sent. The Queen cares for her ailing husband and despairs of her dysfunctional brood. The caricatures are vividly drawn here, and only Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles' long-suffering wife, Camilla, come off very well.

I found something hilarious on almost every page - Sue Townsend has a wicked wit and, though I am a recent transplant to these shores and thus have probably missed some cultural references, I was nonetheless entranced by the storyline, and the foibles Miss Townsend gave her characters. Charles dithers, Camilla consoles, Anne swears a lot, Andrew's gotten chubby and chases girls with wild abandon, William is earnest and Harry's a thug. Throw some unexpected characters into the mix (along with some great cameos from the likes of Stephen Fry and Jeremy Paxman) and you've got a page-turner. Not "great literature," but I couldn't care less - life is too short to read books that enrich without entertaining. There were some scenes that were movingly written, and one that had me crying uncontrollably - that Townsend can inspire such a range of emotion is very telling and a compliment to her literary skills.

Another, interesting, surprising aspect was the integral participation of the community's pet dogs, and the stunning plot twist that they pull off - dumb animals, indeed!

I only gave the book four stars instead of five because of some rather glaring editorial errors that leapt off the page at me and took me out of the story. A good proofreader/editor would have solved that problem and made this a five-star novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The book carries on from The Queen and I and tells the next chapter of the Royal Family and their lives as ex-monarchs. England is under the rule of the Cromwell Party, and is the nanny state from hell! All 'undesirables'- teen mums, criminals, morbidly obese and the Queen and family live in an exclusion zone, complete with ankle tags and identity cards. What struck me most of all about the story was the 'accuracy'(obviously only time will tell!) of Sue Townsend's predictions which must have been based on all the clap-trap which political parties spout now, from the proposed id cards (which are used to suppress the residents throughout the book)to the not-too-far-fetched stepladder bill! The Big Brother world is very much alive and kicking, co-ordinated by a major computer system called Vulcan, which used in conjunction with the id cards and tags, can give every scrap of info about a person, from their favourite food to the names of their pets. The author consciously makes mention of George Orwell's novels, I believe to deliberately draw the feeling of wretchedness at the idea of the world becoming like this from the reader's very soul!I probably enjoyed this book more for the exploration of this hellish world, than for the story itself, which I felt took second place to the social commentary in this book. My only complaint was that Prince Phillip played no active part in the story as he is in a living-dead state in a horrible nursing home, which was a shame as I vaguely remember him being quite a good laugh in The Queen and I (but don't quote me on that!)but I loved the way the other royals were characterised, especially Princess Michael of Kent. Overall I really enjoyed the book-it's easy to read, amusing and despite the scary ideas, light-hearted.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2012
For me the name Sue Townsend will always be synonymous with the Adrian Mole stories, they are what have most helped make her Britain's favourite comic author today. Queen Camilla is just as funny as its predecessor The Queen and I, if you are looking for a satirical and fun read this certainly is one.
It was back in the early nineties that The Queen and I was published and it took thirteen years for Sue Townsend to write and publish this sequel.

All those years ago when a Republican party won the General Election, their first act in power was to strip the royal family of their assets and titles, also banishing them to live on a housing state. Now in the sequel the UK is still a republican state and the Royal Family are living in an exclusion zone, wearing electronic tags that monitor their every move. It is indeed a weird world with Prince William working as a scaffolder, a royal love child and the government passing obscure laws. Two of which are the banishing of the use of step ladders and control of dog ownership. There is unrest in the republic and a slim chance that the royals may be reinstated, but the Queen has threatened to abdicate and Charles will not consider becoming King unless Camilla is at his side as Queen.
The one part I did not enjoy was the way the dogs spoke to each other, although of course the humans did not understand them. This aspect reminded me of The Last Family in England.

The satirical characterisations are much more important than the plot which is just as well as there isn't really one apart from the politicians plans to sort out the mess that the country has become.
It goes without saying then that if you are a fan of Adrian Mole you will enjoy Queen Camilla and its predecessor The Queen and I both of which were republished earlier this year to tie in with the Queens Jubilee.
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I'm giving this tale five stars because I don't think anyone could have written it any better, but every time I read one of Sue Townsend's books I find myself saddened by the society she is reflecting. So while there are many comic and satirically amusing moments, I also find it tragic.

For instance, the Royal Family has been locked in a low-end-of-society Exclusion zone run as a private enterprise, for thirteen years. And during that time Prince Philip has had a stroke and now lies in a care home almost forgotten. The Queen goes to visit daily but the nurses are absent, not paid well enough to risk their backs lifting him to change the sheets, or too rushed and understaffed. So when the Queen and her family are confined to house arrest, Philip ends up with no care apart from a man in a wheelchair who can't get near enough to the bed to give him food. This isn't funny, it's a look at what is happening in some care home somewhere today.

You don't need to have read the previous book in which the royalty was dethroned, but it does come as something of a shock if you haven't, to see that William is cheerfully working on scaffolding and Harry is hanging out with hoodies and Anne has married someone with no breeding but a chin, while Charles and Camilla keep each other happy and grow turnips and talk to the dogs. A health and safety officer called Graham claims to be the product of a young love affair between Charles and Camilla, and the rules on succession having changed, he would now stand ahead of William in line to inherit, if there was a crown to inherit that is.

There is a Big Brother style surveillance situation and an all-pervasive computer called Vulcan which knows what you bought last and what music you like, but occasionally puts two million pounds in someone's bank account by mistake or sends death certs to all the pensioners. The Prime Minister decides to ban stepladders and dogs, which gets all the dogs, which we see talking to one another, very worried indeed.

As I say there is a lot that's funny, and I'm delighted that Townsend is able to write in this fashion without being jailed as in some other countries, but there is also a lot in this book that is very sad indeed.
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on 2 November 2012
For me the name Sue Townsend will always be synonymous with the Adrian Mole stories, they are what have most helped make her Britain's favourite comic author today. Queen Camilla is just as funny as its predecessor The Queen and I, if you are looking for a satirical and fun read this certainly is one.
It was back in the early nineties that The Queen and I was published and it took thirteen years for Sue Townsend to write and publish this sequel.

All those years ago when a Republican party won the General Election, their first act in power was to strip the royal family of their assets and titles, also banishing them to live on a housing state. Now in the sequel the UK is still a republican state and the Royal Family are living in an exclusion zone, wearing electronic tags that monitor their every move. It is indeed a weird world with Prince William working as a scaffolder, a royal love child and the government passing obscure laws. Two of which are the banishing of the use of step ladders and control of dog ownership. There is unrest in the republic and a slim chance that the royals may be reinstated, but the Queen has threatened to abdicate and Charles will not consider becoming King unless Camilla is at his side as Queen.
The one part I did not enjoy was the way the dogs spoke to each other, although of course the humans did not understand them. This aspect reminded me of The Last Family in England.

The satirical characterisations are much more important than the plot which is just as well as there isn't really one apart from the politicians plans to sort out the mess that the country has become.
It goes without saying then that if you are a fan of Adrian Mole you will enjoy Queen Camilla and its predecessor The Queen and I both of which were republished earlier this year to tie in with the Queens Jubilee.
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on 7 January 2012
Neither this book nor The Queen and I is in the same league as Adrian Mole. But then not many books are. I read this in an afternoon - it's not demanding and it's great fun to read. Sue Townsend's genius is her creation of flawed characters who are both comic and "real". She writes about stereotypical characters and subverts the stereotypes with great subtlety and humour.

Sue Townsend has managed to create a comic dystopia - quite an achievement in itself - which is both enjoyably silly and also slightly frightening. She sees through the pomposity of politics and journalism and the righteous rhetoric of many of those who restrict our freedoms in order to keep us "safe", and she does this with the beautifully light touch which is such a hallmark of her writing.

Unfortunately, as at least one other reviewer has pointed out, there are some howlers in Queen Camilla ("slathering" instead of "slavering", to give one example) that ought to have been picked up by the editor. This didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Sue Townsend's other books, the Queen and/or the Royal Family (the characterisation of Prince Harry is excellent), George Orwell, or just top-notch comic writing.
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on 16 June 2015
Hard to define this book really. It is the second Sue Townsend book I have read recently and found disappointing. There are are mild sections of amusement in the book, but no laugh out loud parts, which I would have expected. The plotline is very similar to the Queen and I, but not as good. The Royal Family have been banished to an exclusion zone by the reigning Parliament, an exclusion zone which also includes any other character that the Government feel not appropriate for the country want to live in. The residents are tagged, tattooed and hold ID cards that are checked at regular intervals. Not happy with that the Primeminister now wants to banish dogs from all existence. The ending seems hurried and, well odd.

The plotline isnt particularly good, it is not a page turner and i found it boring to say the least. I read to the end but only out of curiosity to see if, at any stage it got better, it doesnt. Im not sure who I would recommend it to if I had to, probably no one, even as a holiday read, there isnt enough in it for a book club to discuss, other than has Sue Townsend lost it since the demise of Adrian Mole?
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on 9 July 2014
A big fan of the Adrian Mole books which I read as a teenager, I was bitterly disappointed with Queen Camilla, a follow-up to the 1992 The Queen And I.

Not into talking dogs (or indeed the kicking of them across decking), jokes (I use the term loosely) about the obese, the unemployed? Not clued up on British 'celebrities' such as Stephen Fry or Jeremy Paxman, the current political situation, the in-jokes surrounding the Royal family? Then you probably aren't going to enjoy this novel.

Set on the Flowers Exclusion Zone (FEZ), a 'sink hole' estate, an open prison in all but name, in which the residents are electronically tagged, their every move recorded, this could have been a humorous social commentary (something the author is renowned for) and yet for me the witticisms were nothing but cheap stereotypical jibes aimed at a society loathed by certain tabloid newspapers.

Loosely plotted and reading more like a over-long comedy skit than a novel, I'm afraid Queen Camilla failed to raise so much as a smile but then humour is very much subjective.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
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