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Counting One's Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  216 ratings  ·  49 reviews
William Shawcross, author of the best-selling Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother: The Official Biography— a book that was called “ monumental” by reviewers— has created a new perspective on her life through a masterful selection of her personal letters. A prolific correspondent throughout her long life, from before the First World War to the turn of the twenty-first century ...more
ebook, 688 pages
Published November 27th 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 2012)
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Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I feel that, instead of a review, I should write "How to Read This Book," because I wasn't sure just how to approach it in the beginning.

Q: This book was published to accompany William Shawcross's biography of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother: The Official Biography, which came out a few years prior to this. Do I have to read the biography first?
A: It's up to you. While I'm sure you would get more from the letters knowing more of the background from the biography, I found that the letters thems
This collection of letters gives a more intimate view of one person than you could find anywhere. The Queen Mother's letters reveal exactly who she was in her dealings with others--kind and generous and thankful, yet also firm and opinionated. She was a very strong person, and in every way a lady. I think she's the kind of person most women look up to and wish to be--classy and gracious, but also not someone to be pushed around or meddled with. She was in no way a saint, but definitely a good, g ...more
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How could I not rate this book as amazing when it was basically written by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother herself. What a wonderfully "delicious" read! The word "delicious" has a whole new meaning for me now after reading this book about her. She uses this word quite often to express things that were so precious and happy to her. Besides discovering what a wonderful, thoughtful, loving, brave, strong person that she was, it was also very enlightening to the events in history that occurred duri ...more
Paris Baker
Such a good and interesting book! The Queen mother seemed like such a wonderful person and i loved getting an insight into her very unique life!
Conrad Wesselhoeft
In 1943, a British military officer named Mark Bonham Carter met a 17-year-old Princess Elizabeth--the reigning queen today--after escaping from a POW camp in Italy. A member of the royal household captured Carter's impression of the princess: "It was a new experience for him to find friendliness so allied to dignity, and kindness to a perfect naturalness. He left treading on air."

One gets the sense from reading these letters that the Queen Mother was cut from the same bolt as her daughter--or m
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: primary-source
I read the official biography of the Queen Mother written by the editor of this book and really, really enjoyed it for the most part. As soon as I saw a book of her letters, I immediately grabbed it at the library and voraciously began reading it. The Queen Mother's letters really bring her to life and help to understand the type of person she was, something which I don't think you can fully get from a biography. She really seemed as if she loved living life to the fullest and enjoyed every minu ...more
This is quite entertaining: a selection of the surviving letters of the Queen Mother, with the caveat that a great many have not survived (Princess Margaret and Mrs Shand Kidd destroyed a lot), and being letters they are limited to periods when she was not seeing the correspondents (due to absence abroad, for instance), so there are periods without letters to some people. She is fairly careful to be discreet about the royal family (one or two comments slip through). Good for background, e.g. on ...more
I received this book as a giveaway first-read. I took my time reading it, to savor each letter. I loved this book and am sharing it with family and friends. Counting One's Blessings is a wonderful look at the 20th century through the Queen Mother's eyes, full of warmth and humor, faith and insight, compassion and optimism. It was especially fascinating to read her letters about WWI and WWII, as well as her comments about cultural and international changes in the latter half of the century. I enj ...more
Rachel Rogers
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started out fascinating. I really knew nothing about the Queen Mother other than what "The King's Speech" illustrated. This gave me great insight into her, King George VI and a whole lot of British history. She was quite a Lady, in every sense.

It got a little old after the King died and especially after she became interested in horse-racing, not something that interests me. The discussions of races, horses, trainers, etc. didn't hold my interest like the tours and Battle of Britain did.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adored the first two sections of this collection of letters...from the high-spirited, affectionate missives of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon as a child to her mother, governess and friends; and later the jolly escapades of a young woman going out into society, after living through the horrors of WW1; and finally accepting the proposal of Bertie. Apart from her participation in a Big Game Hunt, I defy anyone not to be captivated with her personality.
I felt after that this collection could have done with
It's what it says on the tin. After watching the first season of 'The Crown' and rewatching 'The King's Speech' I found myself fascinated by Queen Elizabeth (mother of the current QE) and King George VI. There's stuff about his stutter, how she refused to leave the king during WWII (since he wasn't going to leave and that meant their daughters were staying too), and what not. And so I was pleased to find this book available at my local library.

It's what it says on the tin. It's a bunch of letter
Emma Dargue
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting collection of letters that cover the whole of the Queen Mother's life until her death in 2002. You really get a behind the scenes look at what life was like for her and her feelings on particular subjects ranging from the abdication crisis, to the king and everything in between. The way the letters are ordered makes sense in four clear time frames and come with an introduction in all four time frames as well as a conclusion in the fourth section. These are all really well researched ...more
Carl Sagstad
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic personal viewpoint of much of the 20th century from a woman who saw it all, the best thing about it is it’s her own words and she avoids gossip. I expected some interesting letters but then I couldn’t put it down!
It’s a big book but worth the effort for all the nuggets of wisdom and unique perspectives within.
Fun fact: at 16 she wrote to Lady Violet Bonham Carter...having no idea her granddaughter Helena would play her in a film nearly 100 years later!
Fran Johnson
Although, unlike many, I didn't really care much for the Queen Mother, I liked this book. It's a series of letters that the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth's Mother, wrote over a number of years. The most interesting letters, perhaps, were destroyed by her other daughter, Princess Margaret. These are her letters to Princess Diana.

It's a thick book (almost 700 pages) but an easy read because they are mostly short letters and can be read at what ever pace you like.
Piper Winchester
Beautiful letters.
It's a huge book but worth the time.
I feel like I got to know Queen Elizabeth, I didn't know much about her before going into this. But I'm going to read more about her because she's swell.
I did not read this book as a novel. I still use it like a reference book. I open it at random and read a few pages. You will not find scandolous writting of course but I was often surprised with the insight Queen Mother showed.
Mark Hollingsworth
I read William Shawcross' biography of the Queen Mother in early 2012, and thoroughly enjoyed it. This book added to my knowledge, sympathy and understanding of this most remarkable woman. I am glad I read the biography first, because these letters enable you to not necessarily read the book in chronological order, but you can now revisit areas of the biography and read the detailed correspondence in full that Shawcross used to extract from and create his narrative.

In today's frenetic world with
Not rating it, mostly because I don't think it's appropriate to give a rating to something the author didn't intend to be public.

That said, I thought this was a touching, wonderful insight into the life of the Queen Mother. I particularly enjoyed the insights throughout her years as Queen, seeing the war through her eyes. I was stunned in parts by the sheer number of people she knew and conversed with, the interconnections, the names that popped up in the start only to have their grandchildren p
Nicole N. (A Myriad of Books)
First thing I thought when I finished this book? Delightful. Very delightful, insightful, and funny.

I didn't know much about The Queen Mother except that she rejected her husband a few times before finally accepting (and that I learned from watching "The King's Speech" lol).

This is the second book that I've read in diary and/or letter format, and I really did enjoy it. You get some much insight and a great look into the lives of the character. The Queen Mother lived such a long life and lived th
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're hoping for dirt on the Royal Family this is not the book for you. When she married Prince Albert she decided that discretion would be wise as she couldn't be sure that Family business might not be leaked to the Press. It was interesting to see her mindset during the Abdication Crisis but once the Duke of Windsor left the country he's only mentioned in passing four or five times. Britain was at war and that was foremost on her mind. George VI was the love of her life and he had to ask h ...more
Sep 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
I enjoyed reading this book. I find diaries and letters fascinating, especially those written in the early part of the 20th century and for me those were the most interesting letters in this book.

I was disappointed that many of the letters were quite bland. There is nothing there that is going to "frighten the horses". I don't want scandal but I think that if we are to really get an insight into the personality of someone then we need to know their reactions to some of the major events that ent
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Queen Mother was a prolific letter writer in her 101+ years. She was born in 1900 and lived until 2002. Two world wars, unexpected accession to the throne (when Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson), her own daughter's early accession to the throne -- she lived through a lot. She had a great sense of humour which is illustrated in many of these letters. She loved horse racing (steeple chasing) and a good drink. She also had a very close and loving relationship with her grandson Prin ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I have always been fascinated with British history, especially royal history, so when I saw this book up for a giveaway, I entered to win it. I was lucky enough to win it and finally got around to reading it. I loved every page of it. It was such a great experience to read the Queen Mother's own letters and learn more about her and the British Royal family. I highly recommend to anyone who is fascinated with British history and the British Royal family. ...more
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a sweet book of letters written by the Queen mother during her life time. It's not a book to read quickly, because it is entirely letters. She was a prolific letter writer from about the age of 11 til her death in 2002, at the age of 102. It was a glimpse into the royal families personal life and service to England during the 2oth century. I really enjoyed it. ...more
Heidi Rose
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I simply adored this book. To see the Queen Mother's life shared in her letters was just beautiful.

The thing that resonated with me most though was that no matter what station you are born to in life or what obstacles you have to overcome, family is all there is for all of us.

Definitely keeping this beautiful book on a special shelf in my library. H x
I didn’t actually finish this, but I did read the first fourth (which was very interesting), and I skimmed the last fourth. This is quite a massive book, and I have a lot of other books I would rather read right now. Unfortunately Goodreads doesn’t have an option to shelve books you haven’t finished without adding them to your “read” shelf...
Catherine Boardman
Collection of the Queen Mothers letters, some of the,most interesting letters have been destroyed and there are no replies so it all feels a feels a bit lopsided, but still an interesting insight into the twentieth century.
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For followers of the Queen Mother -- This is an excellent compilation of her letters. Provides great insight into one of the most important members ever to grace the Royal Family. An endearing memory of Elizabeth II's mother, and her contributions to the empire. ...more
Lynn Sweet
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Am thoroughly enjoying this book of the "queen mum's" letters. Makes me sad that books of collected letters must be going the way of the horse and buggy...who writes beautiful letters any more? Special bonus: since Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons was of the era, great for Downton Abbey fans! ...more
Such an interesting collection of letters touching on many extraordinary events of the 20th century as well as her own life. The Queen Mum was a witty and chatty correspondent to her family and her wide circle of lifelong friends. My favorites were the letters to her "darling Bertie." ...more
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William Shawcross is a widely renowned writer and broadcaster.

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