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.

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