In this magisterial new biography, New York Times best-selling author Sally Bedell Smith brings to life one of the world’s most fascinating and enigmatic women: Queen Elizabeth II.
From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.
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.
“She was so young, and the task was so enormous. Yet with grace and a determination to do her duty come what may - and so much has indeed come - Elizabeth II studiously made herself part of the fabric of global civilization in the most tumultuous of times. This is a terrific book about a fascinating figure.” (Jon Meacham)
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3.5 stars- fascinating
I'm around a 3.5 on this one. The audio version was great, Rosalyn Landor has such a soothing and wonderful voice. I really enjoyed learning more about Elizabeth II as a person, and particularly liked the earlier stories about her childhood and first years of her marriage and reign. I felt that the middle sort of all ran together with different official engagements and traveling, and that it got too much into Prince Charles, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge toward the end, rather than end by summarizing the impact and important of Elizabeth II, though much of the book had taken the time to explain her role in the governing of England and the larger Commonwealth. I do wonder whether the royal family had any real part in this biography, whether some of the more endearing stories are accurate, but all in all I thought that the author did a good job of trying to portray Elizabeth as a woman, a husband, mother and friend.
A Personal Look at a Great Queen
I would absolutely listen to this book again. I felt like I came to know her as much more than a figure-head for the British people. I was continually intrigued by the story and I found myself admiring the queen for much more than just her role as a queen.
I have adored Queen Elizabeth II since I was 3 1/2. She continued to be my favorite queen as I listened to this book.
Overall, this book is both amazingly crafted and wonderfully narrated. The narrator did voices both consistently and believably. Sally Bedell Smith did her research for real and although it could have been easy to be biased, I felt the presentation was very fair. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a closer look at Her Majesty, the Queen.