When David abdicated the English throne to be with “that woman” Wallis Simpson, his stammering brother George VI (“Bertie”) was thrust onto the royal stage. Bertie rose to the occasion, partnering with Winston Churchill to help win the war against the Germans. But what some might not know is that behind the king of England was a determined and dedicated spouse, a queen who would protect her people and her family at all costs, a matriarch whom Hitler called, “the most dangerous woman in Europe.
Mother to the current Queen Elizabeth II, the Elizabeth of this story married into the royal family when there was yet no thought of Bertie ascending to the throne. As the title indicates, Elizabeth had secrets in her life, secrets that she has never dared to share with her own husband, secrets that drive a wedge between a perfect intimacy in their affectionate marriage. The story is told inside Elizabeth’s head, and at first, her constant obsession with a past event, began to annoy me as a reader. As the book developed, however, I realized that this obsession was an integral part of her character and important to understanding what made her “tick.” I desperately wanted her to be able to reveal the stories of her past so that she could have closure. In the end, I think the author made an interesting choice about what revelations take place.
Karen Harper has woven a well-researched tale that fills in the cracks of what might have happened in the private lives of the royal family. The character she creates for Elizabeth is both indomitable and human, ready to risk everything for England and her family, but still tender to all the slings and arrows that come her way.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.