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How the royal family should be

16.02.2007 (22.02.2007)

Funny , entertaining ,great characters ,good plot , easy read

May offend some , but shouldn't

Recommendable Yes:

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Among my husband's mammoth Christmas list ( he always knows exactly what he wants unfortunately ) there was a copy of Queen Camilla by Sue Townsend . He has been an ardent fan of Ms Townsend since her first Adrian Mole books . Having read all of those books up to and including The Cappuccino Years , he had seen this one and quite fancied it .

So here we are middle of February and he still hasn't looked at it , but I have . Having had some time to spare I picked this book up one evening not quite knowing what to expect . I have never read any of the author's other books and had not read any reviews of this particular book , so I had no idea what to expect .

The dust jacket shows a chicken , smoking a cigarette and wearing a crown so that's not much help . I decided to just dive straight in .

Inside the cover there is a rough map of what is called an exclusion zone . This includes Slapper alley , Pliers woman's house , Asbo gardens , Grice - a - g- go ,
"Everything a pound" shop , Frank Bruno House and Hell close . I had no idea what this was all about but everything soon became amusingly clear .

I won't spoil the "plot" but the book is set in an England which has seen radical changes . The dregs of society are now housed in exclusion zones . In the FEZ , the flowers exclusion zone , there are people living who have Asbo orders , are criminals , drug takers and also the royal family .

The book opens with Camilla having a fag on her back doorstep whilst Charles does the washing up in a new red bowl ; an impulse buy of his , bought that day , from the everything's a pound shop . After a full introduction to Charles' and Camilla's set up and their three dogs there is an interruption by the door bell . It's the Queen on a mission to see if Charles has any oil of cloves in his Homeopathic medicines , as she has horrible toothache . Further on she eventually has to see the pliers woman , which I think speaks for itself .

This is just a tiny part of the first few pages of what I found to be an increasingly humorous book . The picture painted of all the royals , and the rough and ready neighbours , of the FEZ is hilarious . By the end of the book I was there , believing this place and it's characters were real . Well almost . There are so many different characters and types , but yet many are so true to life .

The dogs play an important part in this book and put the final nail in the political party of the days coffin , culminating in them ceasing to be re-elected .

The political party in power at the start is led by a somewhat corrupt Jack Barker who is really hoping not to be voted back into power . The opposition led by Boy English certainly has plenty of similarities to the present opposition and its leader . As does Jack Barker and you know who .

Throughout the book the almost alter ego characters of people such as Camilla , The Queen , Prince Phillip etc are both amusing and realistic although the circumstances are rather far fetched . Still you never know :) However the Queen actually wanting to stay in the FEZ rather than return to her previous life , I don't think so .

Still it all makes for a comic , lively read . The hard book copy I read had 442 pages but I read it very quickly . It was one of those " I'll jut read one more page" books , that keeps your interest till the end .

It left me wanting a follow up . Whether or not there is one I am going to check out . I thought from what I'd seen in the shops there probably were similar ones by Sue Townsend , which lead up to this one . Looking at the inside back of the dust jacket I think this one is a follow up to The Queen and I and Number Ten . However reading this as a stand alone book I still really enjoyed it .

I shall just type a small passage sampler in :-
"Charles urged ,'But does a dog have a soul?' The cleric faltered . Souls were not fashionable , nor was Heaven , and even God was currently out of favour with the religious community to which the Reverend had once belonged . It was why he had been exiled to the Flowers Exclusion Zone . He was still not entirely sure why he had been sent from his comfortable parish church in Suffolk to the hellhole he now officiated over . Was it Jerad? Or perhaps it was the piece he had written in the parish magazine , where he'd suggested that , 'If Jesus were alive today , he would probably recruit his disciples from the gay bars in Old Compton Street ' "

As you can see the style is very accessible and amusing . It is satirical and paints a picture of a strange England . I actually warmed to the caricatures of the royal family more than the real ones . Probably that's just me being a bit odd :) I will read it again shortly and I imagine pick up on much more second time around , as you often do . The characters I have mentioned plus many more will have you in stitches . I recommend this as a light , entertaining and different sort of read .

Thanks for reading
Copyright Eiley

Sue Townsend is an author and playwright who lives in Leicester .
Queen Camilla retails on Amazon for £9.49
I bought the new , hard backed copy for £9.99 from Asda in December 2006 .
It was published in October 2006 .
ISBN 0-718-14856-8

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Comments about this review »

rainbow86 07.03.2007 19:50

Sounds hilarious! Great review

beevorm 21.02.2007 00:31

I might well give this a go, always liked the way Sue Townsend writes. Mike x

jackyann53 18.02.2007 22:18

I loved the Adrian Mole books and reckon I'd enjoy this too probably. Great review Eiley. Jacky x

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Manufacturer's product description

What if being Royal was a crime? The UK has come over all republican. The Royal Family exiled to an Exclusion Zone ...

Product details

Author Sue Townsend
Title Queen Camilla
Genre Humour


Listed on Ciao since 16/02/2007

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