Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Review: Yours, E.R. by Terence Blacker

I am a total sucker for epistolary novels. And like so many Americans, I have a great fondness for the British Royal family. (Why are we so fascinated by this family?) So when I saw a short novel comprised of letters written by Queen Elizabeth to her retired private secretary, I couldn't add it to my stack fast enough. And I'm so glad I did as Terence Blacker's Yours, E.R. is a pure delight.

When Sir Jeremy Scrimgeour retires, Queen Elizabeth, who is used to having been briefed weekly by him, is loath to give him up entirely. So she writes him letters about current events, her opinions on things in the news and her family. She comments on the frivolous and the serious. She offers her perspective on life as a royal and the way it has impacted the younger generations of the family. The novel only spans a brief period of time, from the London Olympics to the birth of Prince George but it captures the mood and flavor of a Britain on the world stage, celebratory and proud.

All of these fictional letters are from ER's perspective and they offer a personal and entertaining look into what the real Queen might believe and feel is she was ever to air her opinions in public. Blacker gives a voice to the person behind the figurehead. And the woman he's created is sharp and current and yet firmly of her own age. She's funny with a dry wit and a realistic bent. Her letters are clearly responding to the unwritten weekly reports and news clippings that Sir Jeremy continues to send to her attention and they contain not only her responses to the modern world but also reminiscences of the past. She talks about her children and who they've become as adults, her late sister, Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson, Captain Mark Phillips, and more. Her nicknames for people and her impressions of them, including the current and previous Prime Ministers, actors, and others in the public view, are thoroughly entertaining. Even as Blacker creates a fictional persona for the Queen it is clear that he respects his actual monarch very much and while there's no saying whether ER herself holds anything like these opinions, he has made her an admirable character here in this light and eminently entertaining novel.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this sounds wonderful! I've just broken my self-imposed "no books from outside the house for three months" rule and reserved this at the library.

    I'm so glad the author was respectful of the Queen. Whatever we think of the monarchy, this woman has shouldered a huge responsibility and carried it out beyond expectation. And she's still going at nearly 90!

    Thanks for your review. :-)


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