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  #101  
Old 08-02-2011, 06:02 AM
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There is a very real reason for the work he produced - he believes that this is the woman who wrote about. He wrote what he wanted to write and good for him.
That he didn't try to read her mind and give his opinions is good - he leaves it up to the reader to make up their minds on the evidence he has produced.
Historians who present their opinions usually do so by presenting them as facts rather than making it clear that it is only their opinion - this work allows the reader to make up their own mind.
I enjoyed it.
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  #102  
Old 08-02-2011, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Aliza View Post
Welcome to the Royal Forums!
Thanks for the welcome!!

1. Hmmm. I just skimmed over that section of the book. My impression is that her mother adored Albert, but didn't wish the royal life on her. But, I did just skim it.

2.True. I remember that. However, even after she acknowledged that she was encouraging him, somehow their relationship continued. She really didn't cut him off.

5. Yes, I did see that part about "falling in love." Interesting. I can't say I believe that anyone is incapable of that--perhaps scared of it though. I absolutely agree here: I was surprised that he didn't use the evidence he had to come up with a theory as to why she said "no" then "yes." Most biographers try to come up with SOMETHING, even while acknowledging that they can't know for sure.

As I haven't read the whole book (not even close!!lol), I can't comment too much on how information about her life changes after she becomes DoY, although I remember the author mentioning it. However, having scanned part of the section on the abdication (which I do find fascinating), she did seem to make her feelings on that subject quite clear.

I do think that, whatever was going on, she was happy with the choice she ultimately made, and that's good. There certainly have been plenty of miserable marriages within the royal family and aristocracy over the centuries. So, it's nice to see a relationship that worked well, however it is that it came to be.

There are many monarchs and periods of British history that I find interesting--Henry VIII and his wives, Elizabeth I, Mary I, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the whole War of the Roses period (although that gets rather confusing). I haven't read much on the Stuarts-in particular the Civil War- or Hanovers, but I'd like to change that. George V sounds interesting.
I am interested in the present day BRF, too.
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  #103  
Old 08-02-2011, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Iluvbertie View Post
...this work allows the reader to make up their own mind. I enjoyed it.
I'm glad you enjoyed it. Nevertheless, he was not commissioned to write a history about QEQM but a biography. As a trained historian and historiographer I know full well there is a somewhat small but very real difference between the historian's work and the biographer's art.

I would not have wanted his opinions. But I can not fathom how one could make up one's mind on the subject of why Lady Elizabeth changed her mind and accepted Bertie's proposal when Shawcross does not write one single word in explanation! That doesn't leave a reader to make up their own mind, because the only opinion one could have would be sheer conjecture!

As I've mentioned before, though I did not know it when I read the biography the first time, I have since been on Amazon and similar sites and the vast, vast majority have the same complaint as I do. The major reviews in the American papers I've seen were not too great, either, to put it mildly.

Still, it's a lot of book to read and it's great that you feel you got your time and money's worth out of it. Have you read Vickers' biography of her yet?
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  #104  
Old 09-02-2011, 07:16 PM
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I don't know if this has been posted:

The Queen Mother William Shawcross's Official Biography - YouTube
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  #105  
Old 11-06-2011, 10:21 AM
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I've just bought this and one chapter in, I'm absolutely amazed by the level of detail Shawcross has put in. Two pages on where exactly the QM was born?!
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  #106  
Old 11-06-2011, 02:22 PM
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Very proud to have this book as well. WELL DONE is all I can say. Great detail to all events and for that I say thanks.
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  #107  
Old 11-14-2011, 09:55 PM
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Did anyone else feel that this was an absolute trek to get through? Initially I thought the level of detail was fascinating but now it's getting to be a bit wearing. It stilts the story. He spends six pages telling us what the Duchess had for breakfast (not exactly but you get my point) but slips in really big things that I'd like to know more about. For example, what did the Queen Mother think of Queen Alexandra? What was her relationship with her like? If it's going to be this detailed, the level of detail should be consistent in my view. But no, we have page after page of pretty banal detail and then bam - Queen Alexandra's dead, how sad, never mind. To me it's just a bit too much. And it's overbearingly sweet. I had no idea that the Queen Mother was an absolute darling to each and every person she met. I could be wrong of course and the book might change but 400 pages in and I'm already eyeing up the new Duchess of Windsor biog I bought.
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  #108  
Old 11-14-2011, 10:21 PM
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I kinda agree with you Beatrixfan.I thought some things were way too over detailed but,what do you expect from an offical biographer?Shawcross wanted every detail of her life.

I too wish what she thought about Alexandra and other things but,maybe there is no record of some things.
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  #109  
Old 11-14-2011, 11:15 PM
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Really? I thought the entire book was a travellogue. "Then Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth travelled on June 20, 1952 to Denmark. It was a sunny day and Her Majesty wore a pale yellow chiffon outfit to be greeted by the Ambassador" seems to be all there is. Change the dates/weather/location/and color, but it's all the same.
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  #110  
Old 11-15-2011, 12:11 AM
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I read the biography and agree with much of the comments here. Some episodes were analyzed to death and some skimmed over. As Scooter mention, a great portion of the book was a travelogue; there was so much detail of her travel itinerary, my eyes were glazing over. I'd have liked to have known what made Elizabeth finally change her mind about marrying Bertie as well, not about what was constantly served at meals. Shawcross is very reverential of the QM and for the thickness of the book, I came away somewhat disappointed. I thought to see more of the "iron fist in velvet glove" nature of the QM, but I think the author did treat his subject very reverentially.
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  #111  
Old 11-16-2011, 12:21 AM
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I really enjoyed the book and realized early on that only certain records were allowed to the authorized biographer (much like being on the Royal Forums). I couldn't put it down, and found the daily details as close to getting to live with the Queen Mother as I'll ever get. It would truly be fun to live with the Royals for a week or two. Sure, a lot of it may seem boring, most people have boring moments in their lives..
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  #112  
Old 11-16-2011, 08:31 AM
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I agree with alot of what has been written. On the one hand, the book is really interesting and showed a new side to some of the "cast" - how George V and Queen Mary are documented amazed me - and I love the little letters from a young Princess Elizabeth etc. But the travelogue part annoys me and makes some of the chapters a bit clunky. I mean, it's an official biography and it's without a doubt the definitive account of the QM's life but in some places I find myself forcing myself not to skip bits.
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  #113  
Old 11-16-2011, 09:52 AM
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I liked the portrayal of George V and Queen Mary as well; there were parts where it showed a warmer and more personable side to them, especially the anecdote where the King was very strict with his family about punctuality, but forgave Elizabeth her tardiness when late to the dinner table. She seemed to have really charmed the socks off him! I found all the descriptions of the royal homes to be very interesting as well, especially when the QM bought and restored Castle Mey. And, yes, I don't think you could get any closer to life with the QM than this book. I wouldn't mind trying royal life for a few weeks myself!
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  #114  
Old 12-01-2011, 10:48 PM
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Well, I'm at the end of the war. And I have to say, it's a real hard grind to get to each chapter! It's especially hard when I've just bought some real crackers to read (My Memoirs by Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, A Measure of Understanding by Queen Frederica and The Heart has it's Reasons by the Duchess of Windsor). I just don't see the point in so much detail. Like you Baroness, I've really enjoyed the portrayal of George V and Queen Mary but it begs the question, with all he put in about Queen Mary, why not save it and write a biography about her (which I'd love)? It's a real shame because the narrative is so slow in places. There's some genuinely interesting passages (I had no idea the Duke of Windsor was so vile to Bertie after the abdication) but elsewhere it's endless window dressing about clothes or meals. And the way the QM is portrayed is a bit tiring. There's one part where the QM is hinted at falling out with a member of the government over a message she didn't approve which was circulated to women who took in evacuees. You get the feeling that the critique of the QM from the minister was quite cutting so naturally it's not included.

All in all, I think the book is pretty much the Queen's commanded testament to how her mother should be thought of in generations to come and that's natural for a daughter but also for a reigning monarch who wants her dynasty to be remembered kindly. But I think the book really does lack reality in places. Of course most of the stuff that may have shown a different side was destroyed by Princess Margaret but even if it had survived I get the feeling it'd never have gone in.
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  #115  
Old 12-04-2011, 05:09 PM
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And the draft was sanitized for publication by QE and Charles. Personally, I thought the book made an excellent doorstop, but that is about all.
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  #116  
Old 12-05-2011, 08:53 PM
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I have to agree. I've sadly shelved it. I can't really bear anymore. Moved onto the Pope Hennesy biog of Queen Mary.
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  #117  
Old 12-05-2011, 09:05 PM
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Hope you enjoy it better, BeatrixFan!
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  #118  
Old 12-06-2011, 08:21 AM
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You'll enjoy Pope-Hennessy. His bio of Queen Mary is especially strong on her youth and the madcap life of her mother. You'll gain a new appreciation of the Duchess of Teck, why she was called "The People's Princess", and of Princess May's formative years while having quite a few laugh out loud moments along the way.
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  #119  
Old 12-06-2011, 11:00 AM
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This sounds like an interesting bio; I'd be really interested to read about the madcap lifestyle of the Tecks!
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  #120  
Old 12-06-2011, 11:40 PM
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I just adore the picture of King George V and Queen Mary near the end of the book. Either he has his hand on her knee or she has hers on his. I can't remember.

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You'll enjoy Pope-Hennessy. His bio of Queen Mary is especially strong on her youth and the madcap life of her mother.
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