Hard to move in Waterstones et al for tablefuls of Jubilee books and difficult to find your way through the maze and see if any of them are worth buying. The one I really wanted to have in my little grubby hand was a superb publication all about the Queen's jewels and their history but goes without saying it was way out of my price range.
So I was most appreciative of being sent two Jubilee books and asked to review them and here they are. Both coffee table type books and beautifully produced. The first, Elizabeth was by Jennie Bond, the former BBC Royal Correspondent. I always found Ms Bond grander than grand and had a persona more royal than the Queen and felt that she rather gloried in her royal connections. This book has a family tree at the opening page and chapters on the Queen's life up to the present day. Simply marvellous pictures, not only the ones we have all seen before, but others that are new, well to me anyway. One rather attractive one in black and white, taken in 1955, shows a slim and dark haired Queen pushing back the divots in the polo ground at Windsor Great Park. She looks so young! The potted history that we are given is precise, to the point and succinct but there is a little too much of Jennie peeping through at times. A bit too much of 'I told the Palace' and' When the Palace rang me' for my taste and a couple of rather snide little comments about the Queen's parenting which I thought were pretty unnecessary. In the light of the gorgeous programme we saw last week featuring home films of the Queen and the Duke and Charles and Anne, from which we saw how much fun they were having, this accusation has been refuted. Anyway, I don't suppose for one moment either of Charles' parents were happy to leave him behind for all those months and go on a grand tour after the Coronation and not nice to be snippy.
I gather from the blurb that Ms Bond gives talks about her work worldwide, including the Cunard's liners, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. Nice...........
The second book The Treasures of Queen Elizabeth is written by the ITV Royal Correspondent,Tim Ewart, so a direct challenge to Ms Bond. The narrative in this book is minimal, but again scores heavily on the photographic content. Much more of a hagiography than Ms Bond's effort, this has something extra to make it interesting. There are various envelopes inside the book containing facsimile documents showing a design for the Queen's wedding dress, the seating plan for the guests in the abbey in 1947, an extract from pages of the special Coronation edition of the Illustrated London News and plenty more. This gives the book the edge and it is beautifully packaged in a slip cover with the Cecil Beaton Coronation Portrait of the Queen on the front.
Both books are excellent souvenirs of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and having them arrive the day before all the jamborees kicked off last weekend gave me enormous pleasure and I could sit and look at all the photographs and follow the Queen's reign over the years.
BUT I cannot leave Jubilee editions without mentioning The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. This book is sheer delight and my original review is here.
The Queen discovers reading late in life and starts neglecting her royal duties in order to get stuck into a book. Total Joy from beginning to end and the publishers have reprinted a special Jubilee Edition. So if you don't want a picture book or a Souvenir Edition of the Jubilee Week, then this is the one for you. A portrait of the Queen which I find totally beguiling. Can you just see Her Maj sitting up in bed and reading Proust?
God Save the Queen say I at the end of this lovely week.