Thursday, July 17, 2014

Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Somerset (2013)

Queen Anne is sort of a big cow of woman - not only because she was obese (she was) but she seemed to be just about as interesting as a watching a big old cow chew its cud in a field.   It's interesting for a while if you've never seen a cow before, and you may even watch it for a while because it's something new.  And if you love cows, of course, you're going to watch it forever, maybe even until it moves.  But once the novelty of the new wears off, it's just a cow in a field.  Queen Anne was dull.  And I made it about half way through this book because even though she's dull, it was a novelty.  Once the novelty wore off, I lost interest.  I don't think that's the fault of the writing or the research either - I just think Queen Anne is dull.  The houses and furniture named after her are far more interesting.  

The Farjeon's poem pretty much says it all:

Queen Anne's dead!
Poor Queen Anne!
If she was plain,
She had a pretty fan,
If she was dull,
She wore a pretty gown,
And almost looked alive
Underneath her crown.

Queen Anne's dead!
Poor plain Anne!
Fold her pretty gown,
Close her pretty fan,
And on her pretty monument
Let nothing else be read
But these plain words:
Queen Anne's dead.



Queen Anne: The Politics of PassionQueen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Somerset


Queen Anne is sort of this big cow of a woman, not only because she was obese (maybe she was the fattest British monarch?) but because reading about her was sort of like watching a big old cow chew its cud in a field.  If you've never, ever seen a cow before, watching a cow chew its cud in a field is wildly interesting at the beginning.  But soon you realize the cow isn't actually going to do anything, and the novelty wears off.  If you LOVE cows, then the cow will remain infinitely interesting.  But for most of us, the cow has to do something else to keep us in its thrall. I don't think this is Anne Somerset's fault - the writing is pretty good, and the research is detailed.  It's just that Queen Anne is a dull subject.  There is this moderately amusing book Kings And Queens that has a poem about Queen Anne that cleverly and snarkily sums it up:

Queen Anne's dead!
Poor Queen Anne!
If she was plain,
She had a pretty fan,
If she was dull,
She wore a pretty gown,
And almost looked alive
Underneath her crown.

Queen Anne's dead!
Poor plain Anne!
Fold her pretty gown,
Close her pretty fan,
And on her pretty monument
Let nothing else be read
But these plain words:
Queen Anne's dead.




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