This book has been featured in countless book lists, but it wasn’t until Mr. Smithereens actually purchased it and read it for himself and pushed it in my arms that I started considering it seriously. Yes, it takes some doing, and Mr. S is nothing if not persistent.
This is a very short book, a novella rather, and it’s the perfect fun book for a few evenings (or even a luxuriously lazy weekend, now that the days are short and cold). The opening paragraph made me laugh out loud, featuring a pompous and rather ignorant French president quizzed about Jean Genet by Her Majesty, whose honest literary interest is met with blank stares and embarrassment. The tone is set, and the rest of the book is even better, until the final twist that will leave you smiling and reaching for a cuppa, as they say.
I wonder what people thought of it at Buckingham Palace, and I rather like to think that they read it and decided that it was not disrespectful (even if it is indeed irreverent). I think that the fictional queen comes out as very wise, although she takes decisions that her real-life counterpart would probably not choose. But who knows what happens really behind close doors, in the intimacy of libraries.
Paired with a box of Darjeeling or Earl Grey it would be the perfect gift to give a fellow book lover, if you can be sure that s/he hasn’t read it already.