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I have a mild (OK, not that mild) interest with fashion and jewellery and over the past month I’ve had some major issues with insomnia – just one of those things but deeply annoying at the time. You may wonder why these two things are connected, so let me explain…..

One of my tactics is to not lie there feeling sorry for myself, willing myself to go to sleep etc., but to get up and do something to take my mind off the sleeplessness. Sometimes that means watching TV, sometimes reading fiction, but often dipping into what are sometimes described as coffee-table books. And these are my two most recent, all about QEII.

 

Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe by Angela Kelly

Dressing-the-Queen-CoverAngela Kelly is a designer and Personal Assistant, Adviser and Curator to the Queen, and this book takes us through the steps involved in creating the dazzling suite of outfits that the Queen wore during the Diamond Jubilee and it is totally fascinating. Fabulous pictures in full colour, covering everything from fabric to storage to packing to hats and umbrellas, shawls and accessories. It’s quite a light book, not at all academic but nice and gossipy without being indiscreet. It is entirely responsible for my new obsession of spotting the hat pin(s) whenever I see a photo of the Queen.

 

The Queen’s Diamonds by Hugh Roberts

The Queen's Diamonds, coverI still feel a little bit guilty about this. Last year the Book God and I finally (after living in London for 26 years) took the tour of Buckingham Palace, partly because it was something we’d always wanted to do and partly because of the special exhibition about the Coronation. And of course we ended up in the garden shop and of course we bought stuff, and this was my indulgence. I love love love jewellery, and this is apparently the first authorised account of the history of the diamonds in the royal collection from the time of Queen Adelaide in the 1830s to now. It is full of astonishing pictures of fabulous things. Written by the Surveyor Emeritus of the Queen’s Works of Art (what a title) and a previous Director of the Royal Collection. An expensive indulgence but a lovely thing to look at if you love bling.

 

IMG_0106I think it was Anne Fadiman who talked in one of her books about the shelf where she kept books about her particular obsession which was (as far as I remember) polar exploration. I would have a similar shelf if I was more organised (and didn’t have quite so many books) but mine would be all about Royal and aristocratic women. I just can’t resist them, everything from Queen Marie of Romania to The Mitfords via our own royal family. Adore the glamour and clothes and jewellery and privilege as only someone brought up on a council estate in the West of Scotland can.

This is largely my late Mum’s influence and sits uncomfortably alongside my general centre left politics but, you know, can’t help it. Doesn’t mean I watch stuff like Downton Abbey though, I do draw the line (though I used to adore the Upstairs Downstairs, though I have no illusions that I would have been anything other than a scullery maid)

Counting One’s Blessings is a selection of the letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother from her childhood to her death. I’ve said before that I often find it difficult to review books like this because they are what they are, and this very much is what it is – demonstrating nothing more than that the QM was a woman of her class and generation, loving the country (and in particular horses), with some insights into her life with King George VI (some of which is picked up in The King’s Speech), her friendships with some interesting people (Osbert Sitwell. Ted Hughes) and her interest in British Art.

If you are looking for scandal, especially around Diana, Princess of Wales, then you will be disappointed. It appears that the QM was so concerned in her later life about things being leaked that she didn’t put her intimate thought on such matters in her letters. Enjoyable if you are interested in the Royal Family or ladies of a certain class and era, but not sure it is for everyone.

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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