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The Queen Mother - what a lady!,
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This review is from: Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: The Official Biography (Hardcover)
I ordered this from Amazon as soon as I could and I wasn't disappointed. 1000 pages but then the Queen Mother died at 101 years of age. I have read some of the other reviews and people have to realise that early 20th Century life is not the same as it was in the 1990's or the early 21st Century. There was a lot more propriety and different ways of looking at things so we can't apply what is common coin now to life back then. Britain was a very different place.
The book is well divided up into the sections of the Queen Mother's life and I was admittedly very interested in her early and formative years; such as her helping with the wounded soldiers during World War 1 - the loss of her brother Fergus and how it affected the family, living at Glamis. Most of us remember the Queen Mother as this wonderful elderly lady greeting people outside Clarence House on her birthday. It was nice to see pictures of her as a child and young woman to see just how pretty she had been and then realising how popular she was at dances (when they still used dance cards) and reading of how she refused the shy Duke of York three times before she accepted him.
I also found her to be a character with a steely backbone but also hilarious - particularly stories of her enjoying a gin with Dubonnet. I remembered Prince Charles paying tribute to her saying how much they used to laugh and this comes across in the book of the fun and laughter that surrounded her all through her life.
One particular endearing fact was where Shawcross outlines the first word ever spoken by our future Queen Elizabeth. Again, it is all to easy to forget these monarchs too were once children.
The Abdication and the War Years are well covered - the Queen Mother I believe was a woman who firmly supported her husband - I don't think it was anything specifically directed at Wallis Simpson - it was the weakness of Edward VIII that disappointed her - particularly since they had had a close family friendship then with the Abdication, it all fell apart.
The immediate time of life without her beloved Bertie - one feels for her sorrow as it was not really allowed to be private. He was her husband but he was our King and perhaps we didn't want her shutting herself away like Victoria did after Albert's death.
I enjoyed Shawcross's book and found it informative - I wasn't aware of the amount of health issues the Queen Mother had in her later years that were kept well away from the public eye. The Queen Mother had always been one of my favourite royals and Shawcross's book enhanced my knowledge of her more. At 1000 pages, it's a hefty read but one to be enjoyed and I particularly enjoyed reading it in conjunction with Bradford's biograph of King George VI.
A grand book covering an exceptional life.