Book Review: The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr

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Published: 2012

For a few years now I have wanted to read a biography about Queen Elizabeth II. I find her an extremely intriguing person, who is frequently misrepresented in the media in my mind. Previous biographies of the Queen that I have come across have been rather lengthy volumes so I was looking for something a little bit more general, that would give me a good overview of her life and what she has been through. Plus, it’s hard to tell which author has the access to actually know the Queen.

Before reading the book I’ve had some exposure to the Queen’s past, as I have watched a documentary detailed her love and passion for horses (as you may already know I am an avid horse aficionado). That one was very interesting and is what prompted me to pick up this book. It’s a very condensed version of her life, and did give me a good general overview of the Queen, which was what I was looking for in this case.

There were a few elements to this book that I thought were nicely done. Again, I liked that it was short and to the point. I don’t recall ever being overwhelmed or bored by minute details, which is something I do do find occurs in biographies.

Another good feature was that Andrew Marr made sure to bring in the context, so I was able to better envision the period and struggles she may have been experiencing at that point in history. He was also sure to always give background on significant people in her life, wether positive or negative, to again refresh a person’s memory or just understand the context. I am forever grateful for that!

There were aspects of the book that I didn’t quite enjoy. There seems to be this very obvious bias against Canadians. Now I am not sure if the author is aware of this, but I couldn’t help but note that every instance a Canadian person or Canada as a whole was mentioned there was always a negative connotation attached that quite frankly got on my nerves a bit. I don’t mind hearing something bad about Canada, I know we aren’t perfect by any standard, but when I couldn’t find a single positive association to Canada that really displeased me. I think even the fact that I became aware of it should demonstrate that it was very prevalent in the book.

I also felt that Andrew Marr tended to stray from the point. I bought this book to read and know more about Queen Elizabeth II, the real Elizabeth as he alludes in the title. Frequently though I am not sure that the book really accomplishes this, instead he often gets caught up in detail and his opinions. It’s great to get context, but that shouldn’t be the whole point on a chapter. Often, I felt he drifted and didn’t really give any interesting details about the Queen, nothing that I have never heard of.

Overall, I will say if you know very little about the British monarchy, this is definitely a good first time read. Especially since he does focus quite a bit on explaining what the monarchy does in the first place. If you are looking for more in-depth account of the Queens life I am not sure you will find this here.

Any biographies or autobiographies that you have been reading? Anything on your bucket list? Very curious to know!

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr

    • Thanks for the comment bookheathen! I am not too sure if he is in real life, this was the only book I have read from him. I couldn’t help but feel a little taken aback myself, but maybe I am reading too much into it? Have you read anything by him?

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