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Posted May 10, 2014
The Autobiography of the Queen is the 46th novel by British author, Emma Tennant. When one annus horribilis seems to be following another for Her Majesty, what with kiss-and-tell scandals enveloping the family, the European Union insisting on laws that are unfriendly to the monarchy, the prospect of paying tax and losing land rights, she begin to feel she no longer has a part to play in her Empire. She decides to retire from the stresses and strains of life as the Nation’s Head, move to a house bought off plan on a Caribbean Island and write her autobiography. Arrangements are made in secret by a footman, Brno, who is very generously rewarded for his silence, and Mrs Gloria Smith is on her way to St Lucia. Tennant gives the reader a plot with the potential for plenty of humour; indeed, the Queen is described partaking in many activities foreign to a monarch: packing her own bag; catching a mini-cab; being refused entry to a bar; serving cocktails; wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops; hiding from Palace staff; having the contents of her handbag stolen; and travelling economy class. But if readers who enjoyed Alan Bennett’s “The Uncommon Reader” or William Kuhn’s “Mrs Queen Takes The Train” are expecting something similar, they may well be disappointed. In comparison, this novel is less believable, the characters are less appealing, the story is less sympathetic to Her Majesty, it is just not as funny and unfortunately falls rather flat.
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