Queen Camilla Paperback – Oct 30 2007
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[Townsend's] political fantasies achieve satire's difficult double aim of being credibly realistic and preposterously funny Sunday Times A brilliantly satirical story - just the kind of book, one imagines, Camilla would keep in her loo Evening Standard One of our finest living comic writers The Times Brilliantly funny Closer Another fantastic read from Townsend OK! --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Sue Townsend is one of Britain's favourite comic authors. Her hugely successful novels include eight Adrian Mole books, The Public Confessions of a Middle-Aged Woman (Aged 55¾), Number Ten, Ghost Children, The Queen and I, Queen Camilla and The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, all of which are highly-acclaimed bestsellers. Sue passed away in 2014 and is survived by her husband, four children, ten grandchildren and millions of avid readers.
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I found something hilarious on almost every page - Sue Townsend has a wicked wit and, though I am a recent transplant to these shores and thus have probably missed some cultural references, I was nonetheless entranced by the storyline, and the foibles Miss Townsend gave her characters. Charles dithers, Camilla consoles, Anne swears a lot, Andrew's gotten chubby and chases girls with wild abandon, William is earnest and Harry's a thug. Throw some unexpected characters into the mix (along with some great cameos from the likes of Stephen Fry and Jeremy Paxman) and you've got a page-turner. Not "great literature," but I couldn't care less - life is too short to read books that enrich without entertaining. There were some scenes that were movingly written, and one that had me crying uncontrollably - that Townsend can inspire such a range of emotion is very telling and a compliment to her literary skills.
Another, interesting, surprising aspect was the integral participation of the community's pet dogs, and the stunning plot twist that they pull off - dumb animals, indeed!
I only gave the book four stars instead of five because of some rather glaring editorial errors that leapt off the page at me and took me out of the story. A good proofreader/editor would have solved that problem and made this a five-star novel.
For instance, the Royal Family has been locked in a low-end-of-society Exclusion zone run as a private enterprise, for thirteen years. And during that time Prince Philip has had a stroke and now lies in a care home almost forgotten. The Queen goes to visit daily but the nurses are absent, not paid well enough to risk their backs lifting him to change the sheets, or too rushed and understaffed. So when the Queen and her family are confined to house arrest, Philip ends up with no care apart from a man in a wheelchair who can't get near enough to the bed to give him food. This isn't funny, it's a look at what is happening in some care home somewhere today.
You don't need to have read the previous book in which the royalty was dethroned, but it does come as something of a shock if you haven't, to see that William is cheerfully working on scaffolding and Harry is hanging out with hoodies and Anne has married someone with no breeding but a chin, while Charles and Camilla keep each other happy and grow turnips and talk to the dogs. A health and safety officer called Graham claims to be the product of a young love affair between Charles and Camilla, and the rules on succession having changed, he would now stand ahead of William in line to inherit, if there was a crown to inherit that is.
There is a Big Brother style surveillance situation and an all-pervasive computer called Vulcan which knows what you bought last and what music you like, but occasionally puts two million pounds in someone's bank account by mistake or sends death certs to all the pensioners. The Prime Minister decides to ban stepladders and dogs, which gets all the dogs, which we see talking to one another, very worried indeed.
As I say there is a lot that's funny, and I'm delighted that Townsend is able to write in this fashion without being jailed as in some other countries, but there is also a lot in this book that is very sad indeed.
It was back in the early nineties that The Queen and I was published and it took thirteen years for Sue Townsend to write and publish this sequel.
All those years ago when a Republican party won the General Election, their first act in power was to strip the royal family of their assets and titles, also banishing them to live on a housing state. Now in the sequel the UK is still a republican state and the Royal Family are living in an exclusion zone, wearing electronic tags that monitor their every move. It is indeed a weird world with Prince William working as a scaffolder, a royal love child and the government passing obscure laws. Two of which are the banishing of the use of step ladders and control of dog ownership. There is unrest in the republic and a slim chance that the royals may be reinstated, but the Queen has threatened to abdicate and Charles will not consider becoming King unless Camilla is at his side as Queen.
The one part I did not enjoy was the way the dogs spoke to each other, although of course the humans did not understand them. This aspect reminded me of The Last Family in England.
The satirical characterisations are much more important than the plot which is just as well as there isn't really one apart from the politicians plans to sort out the mess that the country has become.
It goes without saying then that if you are a fan of Adrian Mole you will enjoy Queen Camilla and its predecessor The Queen and I both of which were republished earlier this year to tie in with the Queens Jubilee.
After reading The Queen and I, this story was familiar.
While they have adjusted to living in am Exclusion Zone, a new challenger for PM Jack Barker's job wants to bring the monarchy back, problem is for the most part the ex royals are happy.
After Queen Elizabeth abdicated, Prince Charles fears that Camilla will not be accepted as his Queen. To further complicate matters, Charles & Camilla's 40 year old love child contacts them and wants in his place in the succession. Plus
Jack Barker has decided to outlaw dogs from England. Outlawing dogs in England is tantamount to outlawing hockey in Canada. It's simply unthinkable.
Once again, Ms. Townsend has humorously brought out the humor and raised social issues seamlessly. I am praying for another novel featuring the Royals.