Mrs Queen Takes the Train wittily imagines the kerfuffle that transpires when a bored Queen Elizabeth strolls out of the palace in search of a little fun, leaving behind a desperate team of courtiers who must find the missing Windsor before a national scandal erupts.
Reminiscent of Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, this lively, wonderfully inventive romp takes readers into the mind of the grand matriarch of Britain’s Royal Family, bringing us an endearing runaway Queen Elizabeth on the town—and leading us behind the Buckingham Palace walls and into the upstairs/downstairs spaces of England’s monarchy.
This might be my sole venture in 2013 outside of the crime fiction genre. It proved to be a delightful romp, witty and at the same time poignant. Spending the weekend on her own at Windsor Castle, the Queen becomes, dare she admit it?, just a little bit depressed and wonders what she can do to cheer herself up. Back at BP she decides to visit the Mews to see Elizabeth, the horse born on her own birthday. And her adventure begins. The Queen, in an effective although unwitting disguise, on her way to visit Britannia, (where she knows she has been happy) sees herself as her subjects see her. Worried that she is "not quite herself" members of her household set out in search for her to prevent scandal erupting.
Meanwhile "Little Bit" is enjoying herself buying cheese and making new friends. Her personal skills stand her in good stead, making conversations with strangers, many of whom think she reminds them of "someone", but can't quite put a finger on it. Perhaps Helen Mirren? one thinks.
The central story is surrounded by insights into the royal household and the problems they face as the Queen ages.
My rating: 4.2
Author's website includes some discussion questions for book groups and some of the pictures from the book.
Read an Excerpt
My review of Alan Bennett's THE UNCOMMON READER