Reader reviews for Mrs Queen Takes the Train

I picked this up after reading a positive review from one of my friends here on Goodreads (Yes, Melinda, you) and am pleased to say I enjoyed it quite a lot.

It's a unique story that's for sure - Queen Elizabeth II impulsively sets off on a train journey across the United Kingdom whilst feeling sombre and during the journey reflects upon her life and comes to a few realisations.

It's good to see more books touching on mental illness (specially depression in this case) which don't typecast the sufferer as "crazy".

Overall, I found Mrs Queen Takes the Train to be a nice easy going read, light and enjoyable with a mix of history throughout which kept it both interesting and entertaining.

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Though the structure makes it a bit difficult to follow, Kuhn delivers a comic and touching fabricated day in the life of Queen Elizabeth II. But this is no normal day. The Queen is feeling a bit sad and decides, quite suddenly, to travel to a place that once brought her happiness. The Queen's unusual (and alarming) absence brings together six unlikely people from all walks of life whose personal histories are revealed in stories from the past as well as the present. Paired off in uneasy alliances, they are nonetheless united by their commitment to getting "Mrs. Queen" safely back to Buckingham Palace. The Queen's physical journey (made easier by her practice of yoga) is nothing compared to her emotional one, as she copes with previous losses and new discoveries, demonstrating a warm heart beneath what is often perceived as a chilly exterior. An enjoyable read if you can stick with what appear to be divergent backstories until they eventually coalesce into a satisfying whole.
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The Queen of England has gone rogue!Not so much Sarah Palin-style, but she has slipped her handlers. It started innocuously enough. Elizabeth (or “Little Bit” as she addresses herself) has been feeling rather blue. The monarchy has taken more than a few hits in the last several years. After a visit to her favorite horse, the stable girl loans The Queen a “hoodie,” as it has begun sleeting outside. This unusual attire, adorned with skull and crossbones, lends her instant anonymity, and she simply can’t resist embarking upon a small adventure. A jaunt to the local cheese shop segues into an impromptu trip to Scotland.Back at the palace, panic ensues. A small band of The Queen’s most loyal staff brainstorm about where she could have gone. They’re determined to corral her back home before the press and public get wind of the fact that she’s missing and unattended.This is non-fiction writer William Kuhn’s debut novel, and he’s off to a winning start. There have been many comparisons between Mrs. Queen Takes the Train and Alan Bennett’s perennial favorite, The Uncommon Reader. The comparisons are somewhat apt, and not even Kuhn is dodging them:“’Did you read the one about The Queen becoming a reader?’ said the woman in spectacles to the young man at her side. ‘I did enjoy that one. So funny. And of course, being a reader myself, I liked that side of it.’”That’s the sort of awkward subject that can crop up when you’re a queen conversing with commoners in mufti. But actually, The Queen’s interactions with her subjects are gentle and surely eye-opening.Kuhn’s story is told not only from the monarch’s POV, but also from that of the staff pursuing her. These are likeable and only slightly damaged individuals. Their pursuit becomes a bonding experience, giving Kuhn a canvas on which to paint several different shades of relationship forming. He spends a fair amount of time at the top of the book introducing his cast, developing the characters, and establishing the workings of the palace. It’s all rather sweet. But Kuhn isn’t ignoring the real world as he spins his tale. There is social commentary on subjects that include racism, homelessness, terrorism, animal rights, and mental illness, making Kuhn’s novel slightly less twee than Bennett’s novella. I’m not one of those Americans infatuated with royalty, but I found it all rather charming. And who couldn’t find it in their heart to empathize with a queen?
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This might be my sole venture in 2013 outside of the crime fiction genre. It proved to be a delightful romp, witty and at the same time poignant. The Queen, in an effective although unwitting disguise, sees herself as her subjects see her. Worried that she is "not quite herself" members of her household set out in search for her to prevent scandal erupting.Meanwhile "Little Bit" is enjoying herself buying cheese and making new friends. Her personal skills stand her in good stead, making conversations with strangers, many of whom think she reminds them on "someone", but can't quite put a finger on it. Perhaps Helen Mirren? one thinks.The central story is surrounded by insights into the royal household and the problems they face as the Queen ages.
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Queen Elizabeth...she lets me call her Little Bit when we have tea...goes on holiday and causes quite a to-do. Delightful novel that will certainly appeal to Anglophiles everywhere. Yes, it's quite funny but there are serious moments, too. And I really enjoyed the supporting cast of the Queen's staff who accompany her on her journey. Kuhn paints the Queen as a very caring, concerned and kind monarch. And it made me want to read Shakespeare's Henry V (or see a production) when I finished.
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The Good Stuff Delightfully odd and uniquely refreshing Richly developed unusual characters who feel very real Makes you realize that the Queen is a living human being and not just a figure head (yes this is a fictionalized version of the Queen - but still) Discusses race & class differences but in a non preachy in your face sort of way - almost light and playful - but at the same time makes you see the absurdity of judging someone based on race or class (Hope that makes sense probably should have taken the cold medicine AFTER I finished this review) Adored the character of Rajiv and found his back story intriguing - don't want to put any spoilers but his interactions with other characters in terms of his race are funny yet sad and true The Queen's journey is that of most women dealing with mid life crisis & depression and the age old question of "Did I do any good in this life?" Found myself wondering actually how the Queen feels and what makes her happy Actually learned a few things about the inner workings of the Royal Household A wonderful healing journey Within characters various discussions they discuss frankly serious issues such as homosexuality, post-traumatic stress and depression - again never done in a preachy way, just matter of fact and out in the open The Not So Good Stuff Jumps around a lot which I found quite disconcerting -- but hey I was also very sick while reading -- so take that with a grain of salt Felt the yoga bits didn't really work - that they were just thrown in to make it even quirkier - but hey it could be that I just couldn't imagine H.R.H. actually doing a child's poseFavorite Quotes/Passages"She recalled with shame how little she'd taken it seriously when Diana Wales was suffering from depression. None of them had. In her depression was only something that soldiers returning from battle suffered, 'shell shock' yes, but everyone felt dejected every now and again. You didn't take medicine for it. You pulled up your socks. Went for a walk. The whole Diana business had taught her that depression was an illness and that there were drugs that would help if it didn't lift after a month or two of feeling unhappy." "This time it was Anne's turn to shoot Luke a resentful glance. He was after all a young man of about her nephew's age, and sometimes she wondered whether all young men weren't in league against all old ladies. Young men hadn't looked at her on the street for a long time and she still minded." "Now he'd inherited the earldom and was old enough to stand in the pulpit, he thought he could give her a lecture in how to behave. That was gratitude for you. Had she the power, she certainly would have thrown him in the Tower at that moment. But no, she was quite powerless, she had to do as she was told."Who Should/Shouldn't Read Wonderful book for a book club. Would lead to fabulous discussions on the Monarchy, Depression, public figures, fame, racism & class Would definitely appeal to those fascinated by the British Monarchy Keeping my copy for when my Mother-in-Law comes to visit as I think she would really enjoy this one4.5/5 Dewey'sI received this from HarperCollins as part of our Indigo Insiders program & am in no way required to review
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This book tells the story of a day when Her Majesty Queen Elizabath II decides she would like to take a break from the many responsibilities she has. On a whim, she leaves the palace grounds, headed to Edinburgh, to visit her retired yacht now attached to a shopping mall there. The yacht was the site of some of her most peaceful days, and she has decided she could use a little peace. The story follows the Queen, and a group of people who are trying to bring her home without the media realizing she has been gone. This book would especially appeal to royalty-lovers, but I am not sure if the general reader would find it entertaining.
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The novel had some charming moments but mostly I found it a bit boring. I found myself speed reading pages and skipping paragraphs in order to finish. Maybe I didn't devote the amount of attention that this novel needs in order to enjoy it.
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What a witty and clever idea for a novel, I felt like I was a fly on the wall observing royal etiquette, duties and jealousies. Loved the beginning when the queen expresses her opinion on modern technology, Gin and Camilla. A fun romp through modern day England meshed with old England traditions and a Queen who has been Queen for a very long time and longs for a little freedom. Enjoyed many of the characters we meet on her journey as well as those who job it is to attend to this long reigning monarch. Quite enjoyable.
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This was cute. Like other recent books that attempt to humanize the Queen (The Reluctant Reader), the author takes on an aloof story telling air (or maybe that's just a British literary thing?). It was a nice diversion, and an interesting thought experiment about what goes on inside the Queen's head.
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