Mrs Queen Takes the Train

Mrs. Queen Takes the TrainMrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a little slow to start, but once I got into it I very much enjoyed the characters. It’s about the Queen, but it’s also about the people around her. A more thoughtful book than Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, I could actually imagine the Queen doing these things, even yoga. Along the way, the author manages to comment on Britain’s class structure, the generation gap, homosexuality, animal abuse, sexual abuse, post-war trauma, physical disabilities, and more. It is humorous without making fun of the monarchy, and maybe even a little poignant as the Queen wrestles with her own identity and wonders if she is just a “useless” figurehead.

Book description: 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. 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 and heads for King’s Cross to catch a train to Scotland. But a colorful 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 bring her back before her absence becomes a national scandal.

Comic and poignant, fast-paced and clever, Mrs Queen Takes the Train tweaks the pomp of the monarchy, going beneath its rigid formality to reveal the human heart of the woman at its center.