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Mrs Queen Takes the Train: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 16, 2012
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Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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“[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.” (People (3 ½ stars))
“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.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
“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.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“A witty, contemporary story of the Downton Abbey-esque tensions between servants and employers, the young and the old, and tradition and modernity.” (Glamour.com)
“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.” (Booklist)
“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. . . . Royal watchers and students of class alike will enjoy this smart. . . tale.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Kuhn’s first novel ought to find an avid readership among the filmgoers who flocked to The King’s Speech and The Queen. . . . An affectionate, sympathetic but also unstinting look at the woman inside the sovereign.” (Kirkus)
From the Back Cover
After decades of service and years of watching her family's troubles splashed across the tabloids, Britain's Queen is beginning to feel her age. She needs some proper cheering up. An unexpected opportunity offers her relief: an impromptu visit to a place that holds happy memories—the former royal yacht, Britannia, now moored near Edinburgh. Hidden beneath a skull-emblazoned hoodie, the limber Elizabeth (thank goodness for yoga) walks out of Buckingham Palace into the freedom of a rainy London day and heads for King's Cross to catch a train to Scotland. But a characterful cast of royal attendants has discovered her missing. In uneasy alliance a lady-in-waiting, a butler, an equerry, a girl from the stables, a dresser, and a clerk from the shop that supplies Her Majesty's cheese set out to find her and bring her back before her absence becomes a national scandal.
Mrs Queen Takes the Train is a clever novel, offering a fresh look at a woman who wonders if she, like Britannia herself, has, too, become a relic of the past. William Kuhn paints a charming yet biting portrait of British social, political, and generational rivalries—between upstairs and downstairs, the monarchy and the government, the old and the young. Comic and poignant, fast paced and clever, this delightful debut tweaks the pomp of the monarchy, going beneath its rigid formality to reveal the human heart of the woman at its center.
Top Customer Reviews
Back at the palace, panic ensues. A small band of The Queen's most loyal staff brainstorm about where she could have gone. They're determined to corral her back home before the press and public get wind of the fact that she's missing and unattended.
This is non-fiction writer William Kuhn's debut novel, and he's off to a winning start. There have been many comparisons between Mrs. Queen Takes the Train and Alan Bennett's perennial favorite, The Uncommon Reader. The comparisons are somewhat apt, and not even Kuhn is dodging them:
"'Did you read the one about The Queen becoming a reader?' said the woman in spectacles to the young man at her side. `I did enjoy that one. So funny. And of course, being a reader myself, I liked that side of it.'"
That's the sort of awkward subject that can crop up when you're a queen conversing with commoners in mufti. But actually, The Queen's interactions with her subjects are gentle and surely eye-opening.
Kuhn's story is told not only from the monarch's POV, but also from that of the staff pursuing her. These are likeable and only slightly damaged individuals.Read more ›
The plot is a bit on the light side and the fun of this book comes from the way it is written and from the way the characters relate to each other. A butler and an equerry partially come out of the closet that they never knew they were in. A lady in waiting and a dresser who loathed each other for years travel together and become friends. The Queen herself learns to talk to common people and about the price of a train ticket to the North.
It was a pleasure to read this book. Recommended to anyone who likes a well-written, but light and gentle read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really didn't know what to expect but it wasn't this extraordinarily charming story with such a lot to say about what it means to be human.Published 3 days ago by sandra a osborn
What a charming book! Queen Elizabeth walks away from Buckingham Palace and visits a cheese shop and then decides to catch a train to Scotland. Read morePublished 1 month ago by L. D. Petty-Stone
What a fun read. I can't imagine the life of royalty, but this author conveys a very good sense of what it might be like.Published 1 month ago by PugsRule
I had to get this book to have it in paperbook to share with my Aunt. It just was a Positive story putting the Queen in a good light. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Uplifting.Published 1 month ago by Sandra Umek
Currently am listening to the audible version where the narrator does a great job. As one of the other commenters stated, perhaps it is a book best for older people. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Angela
Do not be fooled by the beautiful cover, the feathery pages, and the glossy reviews. This book is an ugly literary duckling stealthily disguised as a swan of a short story. Read morePublished 4 months ago by EpilepticCat