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Counting One's Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hardcover – November 27, 2012
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“[The Queen Mother's letters] do offer a fascinating, provocative first-hand glimpse into another world . . . Perhaps the most endearing side of the collection is the sheer number of earnest thank-you notes, written for everything from gifts to visits, and a great many written to Elizabeth's mother-in-law, Queen Mary, with whom Elizabeth carries on a warm and intimate correspondence. Elizabeth clearly delights in her friends, and is charmingly quick to offer assistance, take an interest in others' lives, and have a laugh at her own expense . . . Read [Counting One's Blessings] for the sheer entertainment value.” ―Heather Horn, The Atlantic
“William Shawcross, a renowned writer and broadcaster who has been given access to nine decades of remarkable correspondence from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, has traced the stories the letters tell . . . From childhood onwards, her words danced on the page, teeming with vitality, ebullience and optimism . . . Her letters showed a relish for language and sparkled with the joy of living.” ―The Times of India
“The intriguing new book of letters shows the unlikely evolution of the former Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a charming, vivacious young woman who was one of the most sought-after debutantes of her day, into a gifted queen who became an enduring symbol of the British monarchy . . . she evolved into a curious, vital young woman who was an avid reader.” ―Lorna Koski, Women's Wear Daily
“With correspondents ranging from Kenneth Clark to Osbert Sitwell, as well as her parents-in-law, daughters and eldest grandson, the Queen Mother's selected letters--collated by her official biographer, William Shawcross--are seldom dull . . . [Counting One's Blessings] provides a study of maturing character against the background of great events . . . However fluffy the Queen may have seemed when young, she proved her mettle in 1939–45. Her wartime letters, showing her abnegation, selfless duty and distress, make impressive reading. They reach, at moments, an eloquent intensity . . . These letters exemplify the truth of a remark of Auden's. ‘Be good and you will be happy is a dangerous inversion,' the poet wrote. ‘Be happy and you will be good is the truth. Men often speak of their right to happiness. In fact, it is their only duty.' The Queen saw happiness as a duty--not an entitlement--because it was her route to good works.” ―Richard Davenport-Hines, The Times Literary Supplement
“One of the most appealing aspects of the Queen Mother was her zest for life to the end--her passion for the arts, horse racing, foreign travel and whizzing round the country in helicopters. She cared nothing about money; even the Queen complained wryly about her extravagance. ‘There's something about her that's kept very young,' Ted Hughes wrote . . . [Counting One's Blessings is] expertly edited and introduced by William Shawcross.” ―Sarah Bradford, The Literary Review
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Top Customer Reviews
Many of these letters are thank-you notes, and the reader could not find better models for such letters. Perhaps Elizabeth overused the words heavenly and angelic, but her warmth and enthusiasm for gifts and entertainments come through.
The royal family's joys and sorrows are shared in the letters to family members. Political events are a frequent theme, too, with discussions of growing relationships with Churchill and others. She also describes the exhausting days on tour in faraway places as the royals endure heat and humidity to see their subjects.
Even if you stop reading after the death of George VI in 1952, this book is a fascinating look at the activities of the royal family and the life of a very popular English queen.
In today's frenetic world with text messaging and e-mail speeding up so much of our communication I spent many enjoyable evenings reading the beautifully crafted letters in this book. Even more intriguing to me was to find that the style and tone, and above all graciousness, of the writing of the Queen Mother never changed over 80 years. She wrote with the same sense of warmth and humour when she was 101, as she had been writing when she was 21!
The Queen Mother never gave an interview to a journalist or the media in her entire life, that is why this book and these letters are so important, because it captures in a way that a journalist could never do the feelings of this most remarkable woman, and her perspective on the history of the 20th century.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Her sense of humor comes across but once she marries into the Royal Family she is very discreet as far as what she says and writes. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Lisa Schureman
Fabulous book, it allows you the reader to see the Royal family as any other family. Dependable bookseller; great experience all around.Published 18 months ago by robert petricek
Edited & annotated by William Shawcross, this volume beautifully complements his official biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother! Read morePublished 21 months ago by Revd SVL
This was well written and the content was interesting, however it would have been better if there were more letters.Published on March 29, 2014 by Hannah McDonough
Gift to my daughter. She is enjoying it. Service good. Received promptly. It is an interesting subject and the Queen Mother was quite a lady.Published on May 21, 2013 by Elta Shields
I was struck by the Queen Mother's zest and love for life as illustrated by the letters chosen for this book. Read morePublished on May 6, 2013 by belinda atkins