Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen
A universally recognized yet enigmatic figure, Queen Elizabeth II is now England's longest reigning monarch. Most Britons can hardly remember life without her on the throne, but she was in some ways an accidental ruler. In the biography Young Elizabeth, Kate Williams explores Elizabeth's childhood and the turbulent family politics that set the stage for her reign.
Williams (Ambition and Desire) begins with Abdication Day, when Elizabeth's Uncle David (King Edward VIII) made his historic decision to give up the throne and marry Wallis Simpson, a surprise move that made Elizabeth's father king and put her first in line to the throne. From there, Williams relates the love story of Elizabeth's parents, her cozy early years spent in the nursery with her little sister, Margaret, and the abrupt changes to their family life caused by the abdication and World War II.
Meticulously organized, with a strong sense of duty, Elizabeth was well suited for the throne in some ways, though she lacked a thorough education. Much is made of Elizabeth's experiences driving an ambulance during the war (though even there she was set apart from her compatriots). More relevant, and more interesting, is Williams's portrait of the complicated ties among the royal family, including the close but often fractious relationship between Elizabeth and Margaret. Williams does her best to demystify the woman behind the crown, but the queen's personality and private life--so carefully guarded for six decades--ultimately remain elusive.
Part juicy family drama, part coming-of-age story in a royal setting, Young Elizabeth gives readers a new (if limited) angle on Her Majesty the Queen. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams