** Received this as a winner of a GoodReads giveaway **
First off, when reading this book, one will quickly notice the similar feel to the story as you** Received this as a winner of a GoodReads giveaway **
First off, when reading this book, one will quickly notice the similar feel to the story as you would get from a Lemony Snicket book -- bad stuff happening and characters that are just up to no good.
Alexander is a 12-year old boy who comes from a family that is very wealthy and is also extremely bad -- the male family members have seemingly no redeeming qualities. Because of this, the generally die before reaching old age and as it turns out, Alexander is the last Baddenfield.
In the story, Alexander figures out to gain 9 lives (like a cat) and the story is spent following Alexander along how he plans to use his extra lives.
That synopsis aside, let me give some thoughts on the book. The plot is a fun, story line and the two main characters (Alexander and Winterbottom) play off each other in a humourous way. The book is dark (hello, boy dies a lot) but done in both an amusing way, but also in a way that a young reader would still respect the seriousness of death. In general, I think this story does a good job of trying to get a young reader to value the preciousness of life -- that it is both important to take care of one's self, but it is also important to take chances and live life to the fullest.
My final thought contains a **SPOILER ALERT**
When Alexander dies for the 9th and last time, he is an unchanged boy who ends up dying a lonely, sad death. The author chose to keep this book unhappy (and slightly morbid) all the way to the end...especially when you consider the last page of the book shows Alexander descending to hell.
Does this ending get a moral point across? I think it does, but not sure if it does in the right way...and the hell ending comes across as both silly and creepy a the same time.
Though the author wanted to avoid a happy-ending story, I would preferred an ending in which Winterbottom did in fact leave the castle, but found himself in mortal peril. Alexander finds him and saves his life (putting his own last life in the way) so that we still get the early death of Alexander, but at least his last act would have been his one good/heroic deed of his life.
**END SPOILER ALERT**
Overall, quick read and fun story, but an ending that makes you wonder if it was worth the read in the end....more
Very fun collection of stories. I look forward to getting a chance to share these with my kids. Very enjoyable with some good lessons underneath the eVery fun collection of stories. I look forward to getting a chance to share these with my kids. Very enjoyable with some good lessons underneath the elvish soil.
I was also surprised to see how well the different stories in this book came together, really caught me by surprise....more
** I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book through GoodReads **
Probably like many Americans, I only know bits and pieces of what London/Englan** I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book through GoodReads **
Probably like many Americans, I only know bits and pieces of what London/England/the United Kingdom is like...but always find stories in this setting to be interesting. In 'Mrs. Queen Takes the Train' I enjoyed getting a glimpse of what modern day England is like -- an interesting mix of modern culture (a la USA) and an old-world land of royalty/hierarchy/traditions.
I gave this book a 3, but I'd like to break that into how I felt about the story and the plot; plus how I felt about some of the specific elements of the book.
The plot of the book and the telling of the Queen's story in this book, I would have given a 4. I really enjoyed the Queen's perspective on modern life and technology. The circumstances that initiated her journey and her encounters along the way were very enjoyable -- it felt like the 'Odyssey' of an old woman. Furthermore, I have no idea how much of Kuhn's writing mirrors what actually goes on in Buckingham Palace, but there was enough truth to help give the reader an understanding of what it must be like to be the Queen in 21st century England.
As for some of the specific elements of the book, let me insert that I am a conservative Christian and thus never enjoy stories that treat homosexuality so casually, which this book does. While I enjoyed the story, I kept getting turned off by the writer's need to insert his agenda into the plot. As for language, I recall the bad language being pretty minimal - which was nice considering much of today's adult writings.
***potential SPOILERS ahead***
For those who are interested, let me also share a little bit about the story.
The main character is Queen Elizabeth II -- queen for 60 years. She has lived a long life, most of it as queen and she has done her duty very well. In the 90's, though, she went through a really tough time dealing with her children's divorces and then the death of Diane. She questions her significance and realizes that she is falling into depression. One night, the Queen breaks routine and walks down to the stables to feed some cheese to her favorite horse. While there, she is given a hoodie to keep her warm in the cold air -- a hoodie that turns into quite the disguise. The guards don't recognize her and usher her out to the main roads. While out in the city, she decides to catch a train and go see the Britannia, the ship that is one of her favorite memories.
Obviously, this sudden disappearance sets off an alarm inside the Palace. An older butler, a young equerry, the Queen's elderly dressmaid, and a lady-in-waiting all take off in pursuit using whatever transportation they can obtain. In an odd circumstance, a young man selling cheese and a girl from the Mews (the royal stables) wind up on the train with the Queen -- and attempt to make sure she is safe.
Several of the sideline characters in this story are dealing with their own battles of loneliness and through the events that transpire find some one unexpected that can help fill the emptiness and settle some of the unsurety of their lives.
As for the Queen, her journey gives her an outsider's perspective on who the Queen is...and why her job is significant and does help the people of her nation.