‘Queen of Our Times’ by Robert Hardman promises new insights into Elizabeth II as she celebrates her Platinum Jubilee
Queen of Our Times, by Robert Hardman (Pegasus) We’ve seen plenty of books coming out ahead of this weekend’s official celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee marking 70 years on the throne, “Elizabeth & Margaret” by prolific Royal writer Andrew Morton being one example. It’s 694 pages, including the notes — 630 without, an indication of the depth of research and sources Hardman has mined. In six sections, each covering a couple of decades at a time — barring the 1990s, the decade that saw the Queen’s “annus horribilis” in 1992, which merits a chapter all its own — the book chronicles her life beginning in 1924. This is Hardman’s third biography of the Queen — he’s previously written “Her Majesty” and “Queen of the World” — which he insists he began “from scratch,” and promises new insights, interviews and new material from the Royal Archives.
Half-Bads in White Regalia, by Cody Caetano (Penguin Canada) Caetano’s voice leaps off the page with a rhythmic, hip-hop style right from the first page. The rhythm of the sentences — long and short with careful attention paid to the sound of each word — gives this memoir energy and descriptive heft: “I grew up thinking a home is the noise a house can’t make.” He unfolds a coming-of-age story — “Sixties Scoop origin story” as the publisher describes it — that starts with a move from the city (Toronto) to the village of Happyland (near Orillia).
Helpmeet, by Naben Ruthnum (Undertow Publications) At a mere 65 pages, Toronto writer Naben Ruthnum manages to get under your skin with this tightly and beautifully written horror story — also a love story — about a couple, Louise and Edward, as he is dying, as his body rots and transforms. Ruthnum has written other books under his own name, “A Hero Of Our Time” and “Curry,” but generally keeps his thriller writing (“Find You in the Dark”) to the pseudonym Nathan Ripley.
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty, by Akwaeke Emezi (Atria) Do not dismiss the idea of romance coming from great writers. National Book Award and Dylan Thomas Prize finalist Emezi has veered into new authorial territory, paying homage to their love of romance novels (which they devoured when growing up in Nigeria, their publisher says) by writing one. The story of Feyi, whose husband was killed in a car accident five years previously, the book starts off with a compellingly steamy scene; it’s sexy and romantic, yes, but continues with a depth of emotion and an exploration of life that makes this a satisfying read.
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