05 November 2019

The Court Jeweller Book Club: November 2019

Image: The Court Jeweller

The new month has begun, so it's time to chat about what we've all been reading! If you missed last month's post, we've been switching up the format for our book club, and this month's post includes a rundown of my recent royal reading and some new royal books that will be in stores this month...

Image: The Court Jeweller

Without a doubt, one of the most exciting recent new releases for royal readers has been The Other Side of the Coin (Harper Collins, Oct 29), the second book published by the Queen's Personal Adviser and Curator, Angela Kelly. She has worked as a dresser and designer for the Queen for more than two decades, and the book details the story of her arrival in the royal household, as well as a breakdown of the various parts of her job. Kelly is involved in nearly every aspect of the Queen's public appearance; she designs much of HM's wardrobe, cares for and curates her jewelry, and works with a large staff to maintain the Queen's clothing, accessories, and hats. (She's even responsible for monitoring the Queen's health and communicating with her team of doctors.)

The book is a fascinating look into the world of the Queen's daily life, and for those fascinated by the royal calendar and the Queen's wardrobe, you won't be disappointed. There's some jewelry content included too, though not as much as was in Kelly's earlier book, Dressing the Queen (Royal Collection Trust, 2013). (There are also some confusing jewelry history discussions, notably one about the necklaces worn by the Queen to the State Opening of Parliament.) Overall it's an enjoyable memoir written by one of the people who is closest to the Queen.

Along with delving into Angela Kelly's book, my recent royal reading has also included two other books related to British royalty. I received a review copy of Robert Jobson's latest book, King Charles (Diversion, Nov 12), published last year in Britain under the title Charles at Seventy. The book wasn't a favorite of mine -- though there were some interesting revelations thanks to Jobson's personal interviews with Charles, much of the book felt like disorganized, repetitive content straight from previous newspaper coverage. I've been much more delighted by Anne Glenconner's fantastic new memoir, Lady-in-Waiting (Hachette, March 2020). I dove in the moment the review copy hit my desk, and I haven't been even a little bit disappointed. Lady Anne writes deftly and recalls a fascinating life, with cameos from members of the royal family at every turn. The coronation, Princess Margaret and Colin Tennant, etc. -- it's all here. Don't miss this one when it comes out next year! (You can pre-order it now -- I often do this so that a book shows up right at my doorstep on the day it's published!)

There are also three more books coming out in November that I thought would be especially of note. The first one, The Other Windsor Girl (William Morrow, Nov 5), is an extremely entertaining novel by Georgie Blalock about the "set" that surrounded Princess Margaret in the '40s and '50s. I read a review copy several weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. (I even recommended it in a recent issue of my newsletter!) With the new season of The Crown debuting on November 17, we're also getting a second tie-in book from Robert Lacey, The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume II (Crown, Nov 19). Lacey is the show's historical consultant; I haven't read this one (or the previous volume, incidentally), but die-hard fans of the show may want to snap it up.

Even though I'm in the middle of another book, I couldn't help myself from reading the first few chapters of my review copy of The Cartiers (Ballantine, Nov 26), a new history of the family written by Jean-Jacques Cartier's granddaughter, the writer and lecturer Francesca Cartier Brickell. If the rest of the book is as fascinating as the beginning, this one's going to be a show-stopper. And finally, don't miss The Season (WW Norton, Nov 19), Kristen Richardson's fascinating history of the London society season and the debutantes that populated its reception rooms. I read a copy a few months ago, and it's a captivating history of the rituals of an era gone by.

That's a roundup of some of my recent royal reads and recommendations, now it's your turn! What have you been reading lately?

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