In this magisterial new biography, New York Times best-selling author Sally Bedell Smith brings to life one of the world’s most fascinating and enigmatic women: Queen Elizabeth II.
From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.
In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibet as she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines - the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press - as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends.
©2011 Sally Bedell Smith (P)2011 Random House Audio
“She was so young, and the task was so enormous. Yet with grace and a determination to do her duty come what may - and so much has indeed come - Elizabeth II studiously made herself part of the fabric of global civilization in the most tumultuous of times. This is a terrific book about a fascinating figure.” (Jon Meacham)
I love to read, and I'm thrilled to get to listen to books this way- I can fit in much more reading time on a daily basis- thanks audible!
I'm around a 3.5 on this one. The audio version was great, Rosalyn Landor has such a soothing and wonderful voice. I really enjoyed learning more about Elizabeth II as a person, and particularly liked the earlier stories about her childhood and first years of her marriage and reign. I felt that the middle sort of all ran together with different official engagements and traveling, and that it got too much into Prince Charles, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge toward the end, rather than end by summarizing the impact and important of Elizabeth II, though much of the book had taken the time to explain her role in the governing of England and the larger Commonwealth. I do wonder whether the royal family had any real part in this biography, whether some of the more endearing stories are accurate, but all in all I thought that the author did a good job of trying to portray Elizabeth as a woman, a husband, mother and friend.
The preview recording that accompanies this book is misleading in two ways. First, and happily, the narrator for the bulk of the text is not the shaky voiced author who squeaks her way through the introduction. The pompous British narrator is easier on the ears, if effusively enthusiastic in her delivery of hours of fawning words. The second surprise is the personal observations and behind-the-scenes glimpse implied by the content of the preview are non-existent in the book proper.
The bulk if this book is an astonishingly positive, squeaky clean and obviously biased history of an historic figure, as gleaned from the official statements of the palace and scrubbed down news sources. It is a historical narrative without a hint of scandal, intimacy or insight except in so far as it agrees with the thesis that the queen is an awesome, consistent, heroic figure and as flawless as any monarch who ever lived.
Is there a contrasting view point? Who knows? This is my first biography of Queen Elizabeth II, and I certainly didn't get a hint of of controversy from any part of this unbalanced narrative.
I would absolutely listen to this book again. I felt like I came to know her as much more than a figure-head for the British people. I was continually intrigued by the story and I found myself admiring the queen for much more than just her role as a queen.
I have adored Queen Elizabeth II since I was 3 1/2. She continued to be my favorite queen as I listened to this book.
Overall, this book is both amazingly crafted and wonderfully narrated. The narrator did voices both consistently and believably. Sally Bedell Smith did her research for real and although it could have been easy to be biased, I felt the presentation was very fair. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a closer look at Her Majesty, the Queen.
Although this is clearly a totally rosy picture of Queen Elizabeth II, I found it very informative and interesting. The narrator did a good job too. Well worth a credit.
What's there not to love? :-) I love the feel, smell and experience of a good book but nowadays who has the time?
Duty, Motherhood, and Love of Country
Elizabeth the Queen of course!
She brought compassion, reality and an incredible sense of personal knowlwedge and intimacy of a woman who will be remembered for generations.
The description of Elizabeth's relationship with her Father and losing him so young and being thrust into a role she may not have been quite ready for.
I would definately and likely be reading this again.
Queen Elizabeth is the only woman who many of us have watched for decades. She has hit her stride and more. A true leader, able to change and to be sensitive to the world around her. This book opened my eyes to this truly remarkable woman.
I highly recommend it to woman professionals.
I am a retired Court Reporter and I LOVE books. All kinds of books but my favorites are mysteries and period books. I like civil war books and some biographies.
This is a very interesting and informative book about the Queen and her early days.
Near the top
Her sense of laughter
Couldn't wait to get back to hearing more about the Queen
I never imagined that I would enjoy this book as much as I did. The Queen was young when she became the Queen. Her love for Phillip began early in her life. She has alot of responsibilites. She always tries to be optimistic and not critical. I highly recommend this book.
How tough is it to narrate a life that is lived so privately in public? Very tough. But that's what keeps us curious. Those who criticize William and Kate for guarding their privacy so jealously would do well to remember that they have opened themselves up in ways that the Queen never has and never will-- interviews, for example. And the appetite is more insatiable than ever. Her Majesty is something to behold, and I wonder what it would be like to have some sense of national pride that was timeless. Politicians come and go, but it would be lovely to have some traditions that were a point of pride in the US. A good, solid read on the hardest subject imaginable.
Overall, I liked this, although for me, the British narration was a little hard to take, but I am American and don't talk that way. The story begins with Queen Elizabeth's birth and does a great job of presenting the background which played into the kind of Queen Elizabeth became. My only complaint is that the book tries overly hard to paint a better than deserved picture of various members of the Royal Family and less than favorable of others, but I think that is to be expected. I liked the book and would recommend to others.
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