Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith

For many years, I have been vaguely familiar with the life of Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, but I had never read a biography of her before this recent publication, and I enjoyed learning more about her.

Since I usually picture her as she is now — a grandmother in her 80s — it surprised me to read that, in her youth, Paul McCartney considered her a “babe.”  I had never known that Elizabeth fell in love with Phillip when she was only thirteen years old and, after she grew up, accepted his proposal without consulting her parents.

Probably few Americans realize how hard Elizabeth works, not only making a great many public appearances but reading state correspondence and government documents for several hours a day, 363 days a year, to ensure that she is well-informed.  Government leaders, who frequently meet with her, find her comments wise and helpful.  Her amazingly good health and stamina, her ability to talk with all sorts of people, her calm in potentially dangerous circumstances, and her informality in a private setting — all are interesting facets of a complex woman.

Many people, like me, will probably not want to read every word of Elizabeth the Queen.  If you think, “I already know all about this event,” or “I don’t care about these details of British politics,” you can easily skim that part of the book!

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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