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The Queen and I Paperback – 10 May 2012
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No other author could imagine this so graphically, demolish the institution so wittily and yet leave the family with its human dignity intact (The Times)
Kept me rolling about until the last page (Daily Mail)
Laugh-out-loud funny (Sunday Telegraph)
About the Author
Sue Townsend was born in Leicester in 1946. Despite not learning to read until the age of eight, leaving school at fifteen with no qualifications and having three children by the time she was in her mid-twenties, she always found time to read widely. She also wrote secretly for twenty years. After joining a writers' group at The Phoenix Theatre, Leicester, she won a Thames Television award for her first play, Womberang, and became a professional playwright and novelist. After the publication of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Sue continued to make the nation laugh and prick its conscience. She wrote seven further volumes of Adrian's diaries and five other popular novels - including The Queen and I, Number Ten and The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year - and numerous well received plays. Sue passed away in 2014 at the age of sixty-eight. She remains widely regarded as Britain's favourite comic writer.
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I am sure that, at the time of its release, The Queen and I was seen as an edgy, irreverent exploration of a Republican Britain, but I really don't think it has aged well, even outwith the misrepresentations of Charles and Diana's marriage etc. Some of the exchanges between characters are written quite childishly and... well, it's just not that funny! Sue Townsend built her reputation on providing sharp, witty commentary through her Adrian Mole diaries, but her observational humour is lacking here. In its place are poor caricatures in a ludicrous situation that has just crossed the boundaries of satire. Interestingly, Townsend's depiction of the Queen herself is actually quite sympathetic and I am not sure if this is indicative of an underlying respect for the monarch or if this was borne of a fear of going too far in upsetting the establishment.
Personally, I don't think she went far enough and perhaps if had been written even a few years later, when the wheels were falling off the Royal Family, we might have had a more daring and anarchic novel. I agree with other reviewers that the ending was a cop out but it was flagged up in the opening chapter! I don't know why so many people missed it, there really wasn't any attempt to disguise it. I will refrain from saying what it is though, just in case I get accused of revealing spoilers!
A disappointing read, I am afraid.
So why would the Queen or Prince Philip, whom also enjoys these activities, be unable to make a simple cup of tea?
yes, o.k., this is merely a supposedly funny book. However it was written by one of those ardent socialist/liberal types who do not give a stuff about how they might hurt or offend someone and do not know the meaning of respect.
The thought of the Queen moving onto a council estate (similar to mine) is just brilliant!
Prince Charles sporting a shellsuit and ponytail.... Oh yes.
Had to buy extra copies to give to friends!
Very funny in a typical Townsend way.