Staff Picks: A Queen and A Group of Interestings
Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen by Kate Williams
I have had a lifelong fascination with the British monarchy, since I’m named after a great-great aunt who had British parents and was herself named after Queen Victoria. As a result, I read a lot of books on British royalty. One of the most interesting books that I’ve read recently is Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen. The book covers the early life of the future Queen Elizabeth II, including her marriage, up to her coronation in 1952. I knew little about her early life, her education, her close relationships with her immediate family, or her work during World War II, and found these sections to be educational. However, I most enjoyed reading about the early lives of her parents, Albert, or Bertie (the future King George VI) and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The book necessarily has much information on Albert’s older brother, Edward (known as David to his family, who became King Edward VIII), and his relationship with Wallis Simpson. Had Edward VII not abdicated in 1936 to marry Wallis, who as a divorced woman could not be crowned queen, George VI or Elizabeth II might never have ruled. I also enjoyed learning about the early life of Princess Margaret, Elizabeth’s younger sister. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in 20th century British history.
You may be interested in reading In Triumph’s Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters, and the Price They Paid for Glory by Julia P. Gelardi. The author explores the lives of three royal matriarchs and their daughters.
~ Vicky, reference librarian, Warrenton central library
The Interestings: A Novel by Meg Wolitzer
I recently heard The Interestings: A Novel would be the latest of novels to be made into a television show. So of course, like any library staffer, I vowed to read ( in my case, listen) before I watched it. There are many, many stories intertwined within this novel. It begins during the summer of 1974, amidst President Nixon’s resignation, with six teenagers who find themselves “inseparable” at their summer camp. These summer camp friendships turn into life-long friendships, with struggles, including death, talents, success and failures.
Wolitzer ages the characters throughout:
Jules, an aspiring comedic actress
Ethan a gifted artist
Jonah a gifted musician
Ash, an actress
Ash’s brother Goodman, an aspiring architect.
The self named “Interestings” soon realized that – although their friendship bond can not be broken – maintaining these goals and aspirations are hard to sustain into adulthood. Jules seems to settle into her adult life, while Jonah has completely left his past behind. Ash and Ethan become an unlikely married couple, but hugely successful in their adult lives. The lesson, is how the characters adapt to the challenges they face in their adulthood and how the choices they make strengthen their friendship.
If you enjoy “The Interestings” you may also enjoy Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple. It is a witty look at what happens when creative forces like Bernadette stop creating, and how it affects their family and community. Funny and fast paced, you’ll be wondering where Bernadette went!
~Jody, reference librarian, Warrenton central library