Saturday, July 28, 2012

Review: Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith

Title: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
Author: Sally Bedell Smith
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Random House
Publish Date: January 10, 2012
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a biography fan.
  • You're a history fan.
  • You're an Anglophile.
 What's the Story?:

From "In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibet as she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines—the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press—as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends."

My Two Cents:

This is a very appropriate book for me to be reading right now with the Olympics going on. Perhaps you all may realize by now that I'm sort of a Anglophile and thus, I've been very excited to read this book for awhile. I was glad that I was able to get it at the library.

While I know an awful lot about the Queen, I believe that this is the first biography of her that I've read. I really enjoyed Smith's writing. She makes the Queen seem a lot more like a person. Because of the high demands on the Queen, she often seems almost otherworldly. It was so nice to see the other side of her. I thought it was great how Smith was able to draw on a lot of different sources to really give a full picture of what the Queen is like both in her public and personal life.

One thing that I didn't like is that the book seemed to jump around a little bit but it only happened in really random spots. It was almost as if the author forgot a detail and just stuck it in wherever. It was a small thing but it did make it a little difficult to keep track of exactly what time the book was discussing was.

In about 3 years, the Queen will be the longest reigning English monarch (right now that record belongs to Queen Victoria). It's pretty cool that I might get to witness that historical event. Queen Elizabeth II is a fascinating figure and I loved that I got to learn more about her through this book.

Bottom line: My fellow Anglophiles and history lovers will really enjoy this book.



  1. I want to read this book... now I will for sure have to check it out from the library. Loved the Queen "skydiving" tonight!!

    Angela's Anxious Life

  2. Aha! I'm glad to see a review of this one, because I've been umming and aahing over it for a while. With a flurry of Jubilee biographies hitting the shelves, this one was at the top of my mental list! I'm an English girl and definitely have a soft spot for our Royal Family - especially after I saw the Queen being 'escorted' to the Olympic stadium by James Bond last night, haha. Nice to know our monarch has kept her sense of humour... :)

  3. I am an anglophile too and would love to read this book. Queen Elizabeth is such a fascinating woman!

  4. Now this is something i would enjoy! Thanks for sharing your review, another one for my wish list :)


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