Her Majesty, The Queen of England, is depressed. She reads biographies about The Royals and writes "Not true" or "Never happened" in the margins. To keep calm and fit and rail against aging, she takes up yoga and even tries to learn the computer. But nothing can dissuade her sadness over her children's marriages breaking up, the death of Princess Diana, the fire at Windsor castle and other woes. The Queen had "internalized the shock, stored it up, and now she was suffering," writes William Kuhn in Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, an affecting, yet amusing, fictitious look at the heart and soul of Queen Elizabeth.
When the Prime Minister informs that the government can no longer subsidize the Royal Train--an outdated, expensive mode of transportation dedicated exclusively for official business of The Monarchy--the 80 year-old Queen is delivered a final jolt. She gets fed up and walks away from Buckingham Palace, unattended, on a rainy day. Cloaked beneath a borrowed hoodie with a skull stenciled on the back, she sets off for King's Cross, London's busiest public train station, and sets off to the Royal Yacht Britannia moored in Scotland. Along the way, she encounters an array of ethnically diverse commoners - some who mistake her for a homeless person, others Helen Mirren.
Orbiting the suspense and excitement that swirls around Her Majesty's mysterious disappearance are engaging stories about the lives of those who work behind the scenes at the palace, those who know Queen Elizabeth best. Kuhn (Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books) delivers a clever, funny send-up mirroring all facets of contemporary British life while portraying The Queen as an emblem of "correctness...in a secular era."
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
Harper, $25.99, Hardcover, 9780871404619, 384 pp
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Please note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (10/26/12), click HERE.