I have read almost every book by Sue Townsend, starting from "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole" and have always appreciated her ability to convey strong emotions combined with a fine humour, extrapolating a funny side to heart-knotting situations, thus usually delivering entertaining, laugh-out-loud books which also offer an opportunity to reflect and ponder over a few things in life.
I got to "The Queen & I" just recently, years later it was published for the first time and this probably took some sparkle away from it. Yes, it is outdated by now and although it still proves to be an easy, quite entertaining read, I felt it was rather "lukewarm". Perhaps even the farfetchedness of the events taking place added to a raised eyebrow (as opposed to some of Ms. Townsend's other books, the Mole saga in primis, more credible, down-to-earth works of fiction).
In this book, the Republicans have taken over and the Royal Family have lost all powers. They are all sent to a council estate and have to adjust to the best of their ability. Will they manage? That's for you to find out if you read this book, but should this be the first book you read by Sue Townsend, skip it altogether and get to the "Adrian Mole" books first, in chronological order, starting from "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4 ". Granted that this was published about 25 years ago for the first time (much earlier than "The Queen & I"), you would have to take the whole story into historical perspective (early 1980s) but if you like the tragic-comic genre it will not fail to engage you to this day!