Charles refuses to follow his destiny unless his wife can be Queen, and public opinion suggests the people would rather have Jordan than Camilla on the throne. But no sooner has Prince William offered himself as the next monarch than one Graham Cracknall of Ruislip emerges, claiming to be Charles and Camilla's secret love child, and therefore the rightful heir to the crown.
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©2006 Sue Townsend; (P)2007 W F Howes Ltd.
Okay, so it's Sue Townsend, not Proust or Balzac, but this is a funny and heart-warming imaginary tale.
The story becomes believable in these times of eroded civil liberties. Maybe a 21st Century Prime Minister could manipulate Parliament to create concentration camps for undesirables and exile the Royal Family. Ms Townsend certainly does make it believable.
The narration does give you the mental image of Prince Charles fretting over the chickens he keeps in the back yard of his council-house garden, so proud of the washing up bowl he bought in the Pound Shop earlier that day. The rest of the Royal Family are similarly brought to life in the setting of a fenced in estate comprising of wife-beaters, benefit-cheats and chavs.
There is a real working-class grit that shows both the love and the ghastliness of council-estate Britain that is accentuated by the contrast between the underclass and the Royals that are forced to share their existence.
The story is engaging, sad, cheery, depressing and totally believeable in the same way as Orwell's 1984.
I could barely stop listening.
There are many funny scenes and moments in this book read with great gusto by Patricia Gallimore. Listeners to the Archers (she's Pat Archer) will be surprised to hear her having to swear like a trooper throughout the reading! The story is rather like a light-hearted combination of Orwell's 1984 crossed with a touch of Animal Farm. I enjoyed the story but have misgivings about the cruelty of some of the satire directed at the Royal family. I'm no Royalist, far from it, but while the lampooned politicians in the book are fictitious, the Royals are real people who can't answer back. I particularly disliked the depiction of Prince Phillip as an incontinent and demented inmate of a care home.
Off with their heads and save paper. A lot of utter nonsense not my idea of a Republic. Guess my Scottish sense of humour prefers something more gutsy.
"move over Jeeves"
If you like British literary comedy or campy dystopia satire, this is worth a try. It took an hour of play for me to warm to the novel and even longer to tolerate the talking dogs, but in the end I really enjoyed ths listen, canine characters included. The novel even softened my socialist distaste for the Monarchy.
If situations like "The Chancellor wondered if he had enough energy to stage a coup" in reaction to the "war on dog terror" appeal to you, download this. It's similar in tone to "The Messiah of Morris Avenue" with the Royal Family instead of Jesus.
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