Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Mrs Queen Takes the Train: A Novel

Mrs Queen Takes the Train: A Novel

3.8 17
by William Kuhn
     
 

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An absolute delight of a debut novel by William Kuhn—author of Reading Jackie:  Her Autobiography in BooksMrs 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

Overview

An absolute delight of a debut novel by William Kuhn—author of Reading Jackie:  Her Autobiography in BooksMrs 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.

Editorial Reviews

People (3 ½ stars)
“[A] charmer of a first novel. . . . This Elizabeth is delightful, slyly funny company. You’ll never look at the real one the same way again.”
(3 1/2 stars) - People Magazine
"[A] charmer of a first novel. . . . This Elizabeth is delightful, slyly funny company. You’ll never look at the real one the same way again."
USA Today
“You’ll come away thinking Her Majesty, at least this fictional one, charming, caring, thoughtful and brave. . . . A delightful escape. We can only hope there are more train rides in Her Majesty’s future.”
People

“[A] charmer of a first novel. . . . This Elizabeth is delightful, slyly funny company. You’ll never look at the real one the same way again.”

Booklist
“This book is the perfect cup of tea for the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Give it to lovers of all things British. It’s also a good bet for fans of Alexander McCall Smith.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A delightful read, a bit of fiction (the train journey) set into nonfiction (everything else), and a sly look at how the monarchy is changing along with—or maybe two beats behind—the rest of Britain.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Poignant and sweet, MRS QUEEN TAKES THE TRAIN is a comic study of the British class system, an unusual testament to the possibilities of friendship outside normal comfort zones and an affirmation of the humanity within all of us.”
Glamour.com
“A witty, contemporary story of the Downton Abbey-esque tensions between servants and employers, the young and the old, and tradition and modernity.”
Publishers Weekly
In his first novel, historian Kuhn (Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books) attempts yet another imagining of the inner life of Queen Elizabeth II. Royalty is a lonely-if-privileged existence in the 21st century, and the queen has endured years of sordid scandals and stoic service. When she hears that the former royal yacht, Britannia, is moored in Scotland, she decides to visit, hoping to relive some happy memories. Disguised in a hoodie, she slips from the palace unnoticed. Upon discovering her gone, a motley crew of palace servants forms a search party. Included are the Queen's down-on-her-luck lady-in-waiting, Anne; a dedicated butler; an equerry just back from Iraq; a young mistress of the Mews; the queen's longtime dresser, Shirley; and a cheese shop clerk and sometime paparazzo. All are hoping to coax the monarch to return before the tabloids, or MI5, get wind of the adventure. Kuhn explores not only the queen's inner life, but the Downtown Abbey style-tensions between servants and royals, the old guard and the new. The servants are the real stars here, distinguishing this from other Elizabethan imaginings. Royal watchers and students of class alike will enjoy this smart, if familiar, tale. (Oct.)
Library Journal
What if, once upon a time, Queen Elizabeth II did a runner? That's the fantastic, unlikely premise of this debut novel by nonfiction author Kuhn (Reading Jackie). Beset by troubles with her computer, austerity budgets, and, let's face it, family problems, the monarch thinks of magical moments aboard the royal yacht Britannia, now decommissioned and a tourist attraction in Edinburgh. Outfitted with stout shoes, her ever-present handbag (the contents of which are revealed), and a blue hoodie borrowed from a palace employee, Elizabeth heads to Scotland. In an effort to protect her, a gaggle of six ladies-in-waiting, palace staff, and common folk help steer her adroitly but inconspicuously from the sidelines. No one outside the royal circle seems to recognize her, although there are a few murmurs about Helen Mirren. VERDICT Expertly timed to capitalize on the glow emanating from the Diamond Jubilee, the satire here is featherweight (Kuhn is no Sue Townsend) in this 60-gun salute to the establishment that perpetuates the institution of the monarchy, including, of course, the queen herself. Long may she wave.—Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO
Kirkus Reviews
An imaginative glimpse into the queen of England's psyche as she rebels against her routine. Historian and biographer Kuhn's first novel ought to find an avid readership among the filmgoers who flocked to The King's Speech and The Queen. In fact, among the most delectable moments are when courtiers and queen reflect, with rue and occasional appreciation, upon the accuracy of such films. Sometime in the recent past, as British sentiment is swinging back from the anti-monarchism sparked by the Diana debacle, government economies are beginning to rankle the queen and feed into her increasing sense of malaise. It was bad enough when her yacht, Britannia, was decommissioned on the grounds that a constitutional monarch did not need a yacht. Now, they want to take away the private train that transports her to her Scottish retreat, Balmoral Castle. While walking alone in the Buckingham Palace gardens, the queen impulsively decides to visit Britannia where it's moored, as a tourist attraction, near Edinburgh. At this point, storylines involving peripheral characters already introduced, at rather excessive length, by Kuhn, coalesce. Rebecca, a troubled young woman who works in the royal stables, and Rajiv, a young man of Indian heritage with poetic aspirations who's employed by the royal cheese purveyor, help the queen aboard a public train to Edinburgh, where incognita in Rebecca's hoodie, she chats up unsuspecting fellow passengers. Meanwhile, Luke, an equerry who is still reeling from his service in Iraq, and William, the queen's butler, team up to locate the queen before MI5 and the tabloids do. A lady-in-waiting, Anne, and the queen's loyal chief dresser, Shirley, are also on Her Majesty Elizabeth II's trail. Kuhn does a convincing job of inhabiting the heads of his characters, crowned or not. Until an overworked denouement restores her remoteness, Kuhn's queen is generous with surprising ruminations on her love for dogs, horses (but not deer!), Dubonnet and gin, and her subjects. An affectionate, sympathetic but also unstinting look at the woman inside the sovereign.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062208293
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/08/2013
Series:
P.S.
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
256,073
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

William Kuhn is a biographer and historian, and the author of Reading Jackie, Democratic Royalism, Henry & Mary Ponsonby, and The Politics of Pleasure. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts. This is his first novel. His next book, a work of historical fiction, explores the friendship over nearly forty years of Isabella Stewart Gardner and John Singer Sargent.

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