Newest Review: ... it was time I read something different from her to see how it compared. I found this book at a local car boot sale recently. I was ve... more
The Queen hits the rocks
The Queen and I - Sue Townsend
Member Name: CPTDANIELS
The Queen and I - Sue Townsend
Advantages: Wonderful concepts
Disadvantages: A bit dated
==Synopsis of the book:==
The Queen awakes the morning after the General Election to discover the Republican Party under Jack Barker have swept to power. One of their first actions is to take all the power and authority away from the Royal family. Now they are without titles just another family and without wealth. Not only that they move them out of their lovely homes with all their priceless possessions into a Council housing estate in the Midlands.
They are moved into what the locals affectionately call 'Hell Close' in various two bedroom semi's. These are not in good condition but the Queen has decided to try and make the best of it. She must now try and survive on her old age pension and do her best to integrate with the local people. But can she and her family survive such an ordeal? When they are not even used to dressing themselves in the morning.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
I found this quite an entertaining piece of fiction. It was in parts very amusing and I enjoyed the relaxed style of the story. Although at the same time as being a light hearted read it was at times hard to find what was happening to the Royal family credible. But I would imagine many would enjoy this book to see how they dealt with becoming normal members of society.
Sue Townsend is an author who will be familiar to most people. Much of her success has been based around her Adrian Mole series of stories that were transferred to television in the 1980's. I have always been a fan of this series but before this book had not tried anything else from her. As this English writer has written 5 other novels and a couple of plays, I thought it was time I read something different from her to see how it compared.
I found this book at a local car boot sale recently. I was very unsure about purchasing it basically because I really love the Adrian Mole stories and I really felt even if this was good it would not compare in my opinion to them. But after dithering for about 15 minutes (really annoying the seller!), I decided I would risk it. And as it only cost 25p it was not that big a risk financially anyway!!
When I looked at the cover I was hardly impressed. Basically because when someone tells me something is really funny I try and prove them wrong and the comments on the front told me how amusing this was. However, my faith was partly recovered when I read the summary of the story on the back cover. I found the concepts interesting and I liked the idea of this Republican Party taking control and the Royal family having to slum it with their former subjects.
I found the story easy to get into because I immediately felt sympathy for the former Royal family. Although I did find initially the story seemed to move around quite a lot between the various family members. I liked the way the author gave them all traits that endeared me to them. Obviously they all took their new lives differently and it was always interesting to see what they would do next. Yes at times it was very far fetched even silly but I still found it quite compelling.
The story moved on in a diary type format, providing the reader with an update on all the main characters within the story. And while I found it entertaining and struggled to find myself laughing. Yes it was clever and some of the scenes that were played out I sniggered or smiled at, but it was sharp wit rather than a laugh a minute story. What impressed me was how the author turned this traumatic experience into a humorous story. Not only that but there was to be sadness in the story and I thought the author handled this with cleverly showing a range of emotions from the characters but benefits it some subtle wit.
I found this a very easy read and although the story is well over 200 pages it simply flew past. There was enough depth to the story to make me interested in what was happening. And in truth the story in my opinion could have been expanded to cover either a longer period or more depth on the various characters within the family. It took me three evenings to read this and while I didn't think it was as good as the Mole stories it still was an enjoyable entertaining and very different read.
One of the biggest drawbacks with this book was it was originally written in 1991. This for me gave the story a very dated feel. I think that is because since then a lot has happened to the Royal Family that the author simply would not have been able to predict. It seemed funny to see William and Harry as Children again. I have to say it would be interesting if the same story was told now.
The lead character in the story for me was the Queen and I found her a tremendous character. Not always the funniest character but she was the one that was adapting to life in the Close while trying to keep all her family in order. I like the way she embraced her new life and really made an effort to get on with all the inhabitants of the new set up. However it was the support characters that amused me more with there unusual antics. At the top of these was Harris the Queen's former favourite Corgi who really embraced his new surroundings and his interaction with the Queen was at times priceless and very funny.
The only other feature that disappointed me was the sudden end to the story. It was almost as if the author had run out of ideas and her creativity was over. Yes a clever idea and in some respects this reminded me of the Spitting Image puppets of the Royal Family of the 1980's as that was how I pictured some of them.
Yet at the same time Townsend raised many important points about the struggle a lot of people have to make ends meet. It certainly reminded me how tough some people's lives are. That added elements of realism to the story and the Queen trying to make sure she had a 50p for the electricity meter although funny the way it was told, I imagine is not in the least funny for those struggling to do this.
I am pleased I tried this entertaining piece of fiction. It was cleverly written and I would recommend it to those who need a light and witty read. And while its true in my opinion it was not as good as the Adrian Mole stories the same humour was still there. Yes it was hard to believe in at times but if like me you find that just enjoy the often dry wit and don't take it too seriously.
==Other information on the book:==
Price: 6.29 New at Amazon
Year first published: 1991
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo
© CPTDANIELS December 2012.
Summary: Entertaining read