Friday, November 2, 2012

Queen Camilla by Sue Townsend

Paperback443 pages
GenreHumorous fiction
PublisherPenguin Books 2007
SourceNo idea, but picked from bookshelves for Q in the Title Challenge
First Sentence: Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, stood smoking a cheap cigarette on the back doorstep of Number Sixteen Hell Close.
Review Quote:   Wickedly satirical, mad, ferociously farcical, subversive. Great stuff - Daily Mail
My Opinion: Satirical fun

For me the name Sue Townsend will always be synonymous with the Adrian Mole stories, they are what have most helped make her Britain's favourite comic author today. Queen Camilla is just as funny as its predecessor The Queen and I, if you are looking for a satirical and fun read this certainly is one. 
It was back in the early nineties that The Queen and I was published and it took thirteen years for Sue Townsend to write and publish this sequel. 

All those years ago when a Republican party won the General Election, their first act in power was to strip the royal family of their assets and titles, also banishing them to live on a housing state. Now in the sequel the UK is still a republican state and the Royal Family are living in an exclusion zone, wearing electronic tags that monitor their every move. It is indeed a weird world with Prince William working as a scaffolder, a royal love child and the government passing obscure laws. Two of which are the banishing of the use of step ladders and control of dog ownership. There is unrest in the republic and a slim chance that the royals may be reinstated, but the Queen has threatened to abdicate and Charles will not consider becoming King unless Camilla is at his side as Queen. 
The one part I did not enjoy was the way the dogs spoke to each other, although of course the humans did not understand them. This aspect reminded me of The Last Family in England.

The satirical characterisations are much more important than the plot which is just as well as there isn't really one apart from the politicians plans to sort out the mess that the country has become.
It goes without saying then that if you are a fan of Adrian Mole you will enjoy Queen Camilla and its predecessor The Queen and I  both of which were republished earlier this year to tie in with the Queens Jubilee.

Author Profile

Susan Lillian Townsend was born April 2nd 1946 in Leicester, where she spent her childhood free time playing in local fields and woods. She only learned to read at the age of eight when, off school with mumps, she was given by her mother a pile of Just William books and taught to read in just three weeks. From that moment she became obsessed with reading. Later, she started to write for the school magazine.

Sue left school at fifteen with no qualifications and found employment in a string of unfulfilling jobs, from petrol-pump attendant to shop assistant. She kept writing, but did so in secret. At eighteen she married and a year later her first child was born. With two more children in her family and a subsequent divorce, she at last found a job she enjoyed – at the youth club on the estate she lives in.

In 1978 Sue met Colin Broadway and after she admitted to him that she had been writing secretly for years he encouraged her to join a writer’s group at Leicester’s Phoenix Arts Centre. After the third meeting, where Sue had shown nothing nor said anything, she was told to share some work with the group next week. Two weeks later she presented Womberang , a play set in a gynaecological waiting room. The play was put on and in 1979 won a Thames Television Playwright Award, including a bursary as Writer in Residence.
Having, almost by accident, embarked on a professional writing career, Sue went on to write numerous successful plays, including Bazaar and Rummage (1982) and The Great Celestial Cow (1984), both of which were performed at London’s Royal Court Theatre.
But it was the Adrian Mole diaries, which Sue had started in 1975, writing the first two and a half months in one sitting, that brought her lasting fame. These first appeared as a half-hour piece on Radio Four in 1982 as The Diary of Nigel Mole. Later that year, the publishers Methuen brought out The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾ (1982) and later its sequel, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole(1984). Together these books made Sue the bestselling author of the 1980s. There have been six further books in the Adrian Mole series , which have sold over eight million copies and have been adapted for radio, television and theatre.
In 1991 she was awarded an Honorary MA by the University of Leicester and subsequently has placed her papers in their Special Collections archives. Sue has continued to write other books, many of which have also gone on to be bestsellers, including The Queen and I (1992) and Number 10 (2002). Her latest novel is The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, published in 2012 by Michael Joseph.
She has suffered from diabetes for many years, as a result of which she was registered blind in 2001, and has woven this theme into her work.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.
Amazon Author Page - Sue Townsend    Goodreads Author Profile   Authors Official Website

I have chosen to read this title as the letter Q for The A - Z Book Challenge which I have decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I have a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, it will be interesting to see how far I can get before I get stuck. You can follow my progress here.   


  1. What a great book to review - this looks brilliant! And I really enjoy reading your excellently thorough author profiles too. It's so interesting to hear the background to these authors' lives.


    1. Thankyou Sarah for letting me know you enjoy the profiles. I appreciat the encouragement. Queen Camilla is well worth reading if you find the time to do so, with your family life. :)

  2. :):)

    Thank you for reviewing it...

  3. Sounds like an interesting book, if only I could find the time to

    1. You deserve to find time for yourself to read Jo-Anne. :)

  4. Loved the cover and the caricature of Camilla. Looks like a fun read. I'll have to see if it's available in Canada.

    1. It is a clever caricature in drawing and in words in the novel as well. I hope you manage to track it down Mirella, you may want to read The Queen and I first.

  5. Hi there, the November edition of Books You Loved is now live. Here is the link Books You Loved November Edition Please do pop by and link in a post about a book you loved. Maybe this one? Cheers

    1. Will do Carole, thanks for the reminder again. :)

    2. No worries. Thanks for linking in. Have a great week.

  6. Nice review. THANKS.

    Stopping by from Carole's November Books I Loved. I am in that list as #2.

    Silver's Reviews

    1. Thankyou for calling by Elizabeth, appreciated.

  7. Hi Linda,

    I had to smile at the charicature of the divinely beautiful Camilla!!!

    I am not sure exactly where I stand on the issue of the Monarchy, all I do know is that the prospect of adopting the US system and having an elected President, fills me with horror!! Imagine ... President Cameron!!

    I have never read and of the Adrian Mole series, as I have never been keen on satirical writing if I am being totally honest, and the slightly irreverent tone about the Royal Family, doesn't really appeal either.

    I am glad that you enjoyed the book though and as always you have published a comprehensive and thoughtful review.


    1. Yvonne, I am definitely pro-monarchy but find that Sue Townsend paints such an amusing picture of the Royals. I would like to think they can see the funny side as well, but who knows?


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