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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 15 March 2013
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.
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on 3 October 2009
What makes this book different are the frequent and, in some cases, extensive quotes from the letters of the Queen Mother to members of her family and friends.

These display a great deal of wit, strong convictions and a refreshing ability to see the funny side of life. You begin to get a sense of her as a person rather than the familiar figurehead. She emerges as likeable - but not in the 'sugary' way in which she was normally portrayed.

The better part of the book covers her life up to the death of King George VI in 1952. This part of the book illustrates the impact which she had on the evolution of the monarchy and her influence over her husband and family (which was subtle rather than overbearing). The chapters covering her long widowhood consist largely of rather tedious and repetitive descriptions of a social life and official engagements which varied little from year to year. While this life sounds a happy one, if there really was so little of substance to say about it, the opportunity could have been taken to reduce the book in size from it hefty 943 pages of text.
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on 27 January 2013
This book sets out in amazing detail the life of an amazing women. The research which must have gone in to this book comes clearly accross as it sets out in detail a life that spans the 20th Century. Whilst it looks daunting when you first get it because of it's size I would throughly recomment it if you are a lover of history.
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on 13 December 2010
Some interesting themes in Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon's life.Her support for Chamberlain in the appeasement era,her strong dislike of Attlee's 1945-51 government and the people who elected it ("half-educated" was how Bowes-Lyon refered to the Great Unwashed at this time)and her abiding dislike of Germany and the Labour Party,as revealed by Woodrow Wyatt.
A shame Shawcross doesn't explore these themes of a right-winger who was contemptuous of the rabble(the British taxpayer) who paid to keep her in the style to which she'd became accustomed.Shawcross goes for a list system of what dresses Bowes-Lyon wore or what party she went to,or what a drag it is to visit Canada-even though someone else is paying for it.Akin to an extended diary with next to no analysis,never mind critical analysis.
Arise Lord Shawcross of Brown Nose.
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on 10 November 2009
Having been presented to Her Majesty and realising how close she was to her subjects I was delighted when Her official biography was published giving me the opportunity to learn more of her private life.For many years I hsave heard anecdotes connected with her formative years, her background and snippets of how she approached the daunting task of becoming Queen and of facing life without her late husband. All this and more I have learned from her biography. Reading the biography was made particularly enjoyable as I am of the same generation, albeit a few years younger,and I am certain that this is history made easy. I am of the opinion that all generations will enjoy this book and gain much from it. As is so frequently written, more than just a good read.
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on 27 December 2009
I so looked forward to reading this, the official biography of a much loved woman. However, it was such a boring read unfortunately. This wasn't about the woman as such, more about her diary engagements, ie where she went; what she wore; who accompanied her, etc. The author brushed over the major events in her life, in fact I got the impression he was given a list of what he could and what he could not write about (even though he said he was given free access to the QM's papers) and that, in my opinion, made for a very boring book. I wanted to know more about the person, and less about the details of each overseas visit, or how many times she went to Scotland, etc. There was hardly a mention of the family problems, for instance, and nothing about Princess Margaret's illnesses and subsequent death. Now if the author thinks these things are nothing to do with us, the general public, and he could be right, then I would have to ask the question...why bother at all?
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on 18 June 2012
This book appears to have been written by three different authors. The first quarter it is comprised of quoted extractions from letters, and reads like a PG Woodhouse book - full of 'What Ho's'.

The second quarter, covering her marriage, the abdication, and the war, is excellent. The events are dealt with purely on what was known then, without reference to what we know now. A fascinating read.

The rest of the book is a non-stop list of various visits, it reads like a travel itenary. There are the occasional mentions of 'Princess Margaret divorces ... Charles marries Diana ... Lord Mountbatten murdered', or whatever, but these appear almost as asides to the continuing list of places visited.

Overall it was worth the 99p paid through the Kindle Daily Deal offer, but certainly no more.
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on 26 February 2016
I don't know if I have to keep this very boring boring boring biogaphy for any intellectual reason or keep it to help hold the back door in my house during the summe when the windy conditions get iun the way? I should probably dump it in the garbage for being the most boring, stupid & crappy book ever published. But at the end I realized that the stupid scottish bitch didn't need 1096 pages to describe her worthless life. So her life goes to the dumpster.....
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on 7 October 2014
William Shawcross's biography tells us everything and nothing. Why did Elizabeth Lyon take to her bed so often? As a young woman she retires to bed for days , even weeks on end, was this the secret to her long life ? As Duchess of York the pattern continues, if anything unpleasant happened she retired to bed, even on honeymoon but not for the obvious reason.

This is such a long and detailed biography that I was tempted to give up, but I soldiered on with this long life of little consequence. Self obsessed and thinking everyone thought as highly of her as she herself did, it was a long self indulgent life and having met her socially, I can attest to her needing to be the centre of attention at all times. Desperately sad that she didn't manage to marry the Prince of Wales she led his younger brother on for years before agreeing to his third proposal. The oddest thing is her adoption of his parents the King and Queen as her own referring to them as one would to natural parents. Elizabeth was extremely determined and the choice of her own name for her first daughter almost gives the idea that she would be Queen at any cost and ensure her title of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Her behaviour towards the Prince of Wales on falling in love with Wallis Simpson was again to retire to her bed and complain bitterly about his lack of responsibility. Did she conspire against him during the Abdication crisis, and relish the thought of her husband becoming the King and she ,his Queen. Her behaviour towards the Duke and Duchess of Windsor was cruel and spiteful, I cannot believe that George VI would deny his beloved brother's wife her rightful title of HRH and banish them from his country.

Queen Elizabeth is remembered by many as she was portayed in the film "The Kings Speech" but she did not seek out Lionel Logue, he was recommended to the king by an actress friend of his.

When the Queen Mother's youngest daughter was divorced she still entertained Lord Snowdon and held him in high esteem seeming to neglect Princess Margarets need for her mother.

Many years were spent as a widow, reluctantly leaving Buckingham Palace for Clarence House where she established a sybaritic lifestyle which lasted all her life.
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on 29 October 2014
I was thrilled when I received my copy of The Queen Mother through the post a few weeks ago. It is a beautifully laid out book with pictures I hadn't seen before (one of the three Queens at King George VI's funeral, and a beautiful one of the Queen Mother in one of her gardens) She was a wonderful woman....a wonderful lady, in fact and this book (a rather large and very thick hardback) is full of her life in words and pictures. It is a delight to behold, and I feel honoured to own such a copy.

It comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (and it makes me feel rather guilty having recommended trivial things highly - although I have been truthful with those reviews).
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