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Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: The Official Biography Paperback – Unabridged, 2 Jul 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1120 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Unabridged edition (2 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780330434300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330434300
  • ASIN: 0330434306
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 4.4 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 348,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'This official biography shows why she was so well loved . . . this book is a fitting tribute.' --Sarah Bradford, Daily Telegraph

`Exclusive access to the royal archives reveals the woman behind the pearls' --Times

'This is a magisterial work ... the constitutional and emotional tension which surrounded those days is well and compellingly crafted.' --Press & Journal (Highlands & Islands and Aberdeen)

Review

'Long-awaited...the book will be the most comprehensive account of her life.' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Queen Elisabeth, The Queen Mother or just Queen Mum was a household name all over the world. I suppose all of us who read this official biography have followed her life and have personal recollections of her. She war a fixture of royal life and events in her trademark clothes and pearls, always gracious and smiling, a real character and a real lady. Most of us will have formed an opinion about her.

Writing a biography on such a personality is not an easy task. Her first biographer Hugo Vickers had spent too much energy and pages on the Queen Mother's outfits and colour schemes of her dresses. He was all a bit to "loyal" and keeping with the myth, a bit to close to her and bit too admiring. Does William Shawcross fare better?

In my view yes indeed he does, very much so. He managed to get to the bottom of her personality, her basic functioning, and her basic personality: her great zest for life, her liking of people, her sense of duty and great loyalty and her positive approach to life in general, and her great sense of humour. But he is blind to her faults. There is a balance of this book - unless the official biography on Queen Mary he does not focus at length on her childhood and rushes through the "Queen Years". Of course, this is not my first biography of the Queen Mother and therefore not much came as a surprise to me, but there are new elements to discover. First, this is the first biography were one learns about the events and her views through herself - by her fantastic letters. Oh gosh how will future biographies been written? Based on text messages and emails...?? Secondly, the relationship with The King becomes clearer and more balanced. Popular view has it that she was the strong one and that he relied on her. Yes, that is true, but she relied very much on him too.
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By DRW on 10 Dec. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you are interested in how many regiments Queen Elizabeth inspected, snippets from letters to her (own) family, rather creepy correspondence between her and her mother in law, Queen Mary and other such trivia, then this book is for you.

However, if you want to know what motivated Queen Elizabeth in an extraordinary period of the British Royal Family, forget it. We learn nothing of her relations with her royal contemporaries; nothing of the family's views, actions or attitudes to their European cousins as their world closed; nothing not already known about the family's reaction as their world imploded with the abdication of Edward Vlll (and what we do get is sketchy in the exteme). We get a detailed account of the self indulgent and selfish life of the widowed Queen, but nothing of the period when she and the Royal Family were at the centre of a monumental gathering, and happening storm.

The book is far too long.

Don't bother : bad history; bad book.
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Format: Hardcover
This was very well-written, but offered no original insight into its subject. The author is clearly an Establishment figure (I laughed aloud at his sniffy, purse-lipped description of the new millennium party at the Millennium Dome) who had no desire to discuss the Queen Mother in any depth for fear of upsetting her relatives, who had cooperated with him in the writing of this hagiography.

For example, we learn that she took many months to consider Bertie's proposal, but there was no mention of the common belief that, encouraged by her social-climber of a mother, she was actually holding out for the bigger and more handsome prize; his older brother, the Prince of Wales. This was certainly Wallis Simpson's opinion, and it was shared by several 1920s/1930s Society figures - why was it not explored?

The deaths of Princesses Margaret and Diana merit a page or two apiece, yet the QM's safari, and her trip to Canada, are dealt with in excrutiating detail. I skim-read several sections of this book.

In short, if you want to know exactly what the QM was up to on 1st June 1936 (or any other date), this is the book for you. If you want an analysis of her motivations, character and beliefs, then look elsewhere.
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Format: Paperback
This reeks of that wierd sycophantic atmosphere that surround those biographers lucky enough to be granted official access to the papers of the rich and famous. And somehow in all the very uneven meticulous detail the author fails to find the spark that makes this woman's life likeable. Instead she comes across as spoilt, sheltered and very much of her era, but with a grain of common sense that stood her in good stead.

Particularly pointless are the lengthy chunks devoted to her first foreign tours, including the genial slaughter of various animals as she levelled her Purdey guns at one and all. We get a hint of a Duchess who seemed to be universally popular before she became Queen, and she certainly had an idyllic childhood. But can we trust this image? Any hint of melancholy undercurrents are firmly hustled out of sight. About the one fact that did surprise me was that the young princess Elizabeth was left at home at a very early age while her mum and husband toured Australia for 7 months. Think that one through...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Absolutely outstanding book. Don't be put off by 1,000 pages - after all this has to cover over 100 years! The book is beautifully written and the style such that quotes from correspondence seamlessly adds the reality to the descriptive text. I had great difficulty in putting the book down. The author blends so much history of the 20th century and for much of which the Queen Mother was in a pivotal position. Her charities involvement was huge and her work load phenomenal - her life dominated by her sense of duty and complete faith in the quality of the British people, through thick and thin. The author's eminently easy and readable style makes this book a pleasure to read. Thoroughly recommended.
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