What I am Reading – Mrs Queen Takes the Train
“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards, says the White Queen.” Lewis Carroll
December is the month for fun reads so I’m happy to recommend Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn.
This is a book about The Queen. Yes, the one who comes immediately to mind when the word queen is mentioned: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
The author, William Kuhn, is a biographer and a historian. Mrs Queen Takes the Train is his first novel.
He begins with a deceptively simple idea. What if The Queen decided one day to take the train, like any other passenger? Mrs Queen Takes the Train describes exactly what happens when she does. The story begins with Her Majesty waging war with her computer, ultimately resorting in a fit of temper, as we all have at one time or another, to shutting down and rebooting. She finds herself becoming sad and decides to ward this feeling off by thinking of happier times including voyages spent on the now retired royal yacht, Britannia.
How presumptuous of the writer to climb into the head of the sitting monarch, but what fun he has with it. He provides a window into her thoughts on a variety of topics including her late daughter-in-law, wayward children, and demanding spouse with such skill that you almost believe that you really do know what she is thinking.
This is a queen who does yoga and sneaks expensive cheese to her beloved horse whose name is also Elizabeth. When she decides on the spur of the moment to pop up to Edinburgh in the company of the clerk from the cheese shop to visit the Britannia, a quietly desperate chase by five of her loyal attendants ensues. The results are both poignant and hilarious.
The portrait that emerges of this eighty-six year-old lady in a Hermes headscarf is so very appealing that you will find yourself wanting this to be The Queen. Regardless of how you feel about the Royals, you can’t help but like her, as she makes her way through her kingdom meeting some of her less fortunate subjects.
This book would be a wonderful stocking stuffer for anyone on your list who is a Royal Watcher. You might enjoy it, too. I know that I did.