I had forgotten that I had requested Sally Bedell Smith's Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch from the library, but I was excited to see it when it came in. I brought it home, intending really only to take a look at the pictures and maybe read the first few chapters. But pretty soon I just got kind of sucked in, and before you know it, I was finishing the book's last chapter about the wedding of William and Catherine and the future of the monarchy.*
Now, there's nothing really very challenging here. Smith keeps an upbeat tone about everything, spinning all the stories as positively as she can for both the Queen and the other members of her family. There is nothing really overtly gossipy about this book either; Smith seems to have spoken with a lot of people, but the quotes she shares all seem pretty innocuous. Although I did enjoy this bit, about a much younger Elizabeth and Philip:
"During a visit to the Brabournes in Kent, John said to Philip, 'I never realized what lovely skin she has.' 'Yes,' Philip replied, 'she's like that all over.'" (p. 48.)
So, it's a puff piece. But it's a well-done puff piece. I particularly enjoyed learning more about the Queen's knowledge and love of horses and horse-racing, as well as more about her relationships with all the different prime ministers she's known. And the book included a fair amount of pictures, which I always enjoy. Looking for a read about her majesty? You could do a lot worse than this one. And this might be a fun year to read one--it's QE2's Diamond Jubilee year, celebrating her 60 years on the throne.
*I did skip some of the political history and commonwealth visiting bits just to finish a bit faster.