Review: Ingrid: prinsesse af Sverige, dronning af Danmark

Book cover: Queen Ingrid by Lundgren
Ingrid: prinsesse af Sverige, dronning af Danmark by Roger Lundgren

This is actually a rather decent book on Queen Ingrid of Denmark. I read  Sibylla: En biografi by the same author a while back, and didn’t care for the writing style at all, which I why I am surprised that this one worked for me.

The reason for why this works is mainly that Lundgren has used, liberally, quotes from interviews and other books on the subject. His own writing voice has also seemed to mature in the three years between the two books, and it doesn’t feel so fawning and childlike.

With the overflow of the quotes, it feels like a television documentary with Lundgren as the narrator, and the royals as the subjects.

Some of the things that come up are new information, and some isn’t. We learn that both Queen Margrethe and her son Crown Prince Frederik learned Swedish from Ingrid, at their own request, to speak with their Scandinavian relatives and friends. I knew from before that Queen Margrethe spoke Swedish well, but I had never heard the tidbit about Frederik. And now it came from his own “mouth.”

At the same time, the quotes can be a bit duplicating in their information – why is it necessary to have quotes from Queen Margrethe and Princess Benedikte iterating almost word for word the same information, for example? (And this happens a lot throughout the book.)

There is a literature list in the back, but I wish that he would have made it clear throughout the book when he was quoting from another piece of royal biography or when it was in direct interviews with the royals.

For example, the story from Ex-King Constantine of Greece that his father-in-law locked Constantine into a bathroom when he came to ask for Anne-Marie’s hand in marriage, first came to my light with the DR television series about King Christian’s descendants (or other biographies, for all I know). If Lundgren did not get his information from there, but from an interview with Constantine, it would have been good to have that cited in the material.

When there is not quotes to liven the material, from Ingrid’s younger years, or when her parents met each other, the story falls a bit flat because everything is so sugar glossy and nice.

Overall, I don’t regret reading (or buying) the book, but there are some definite room for improvement. And while I, after reading the Sibylla book, had not planned on reading Lundgren’s newest book on Queen Silvia, I am now planning to do it.


Review: My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir

My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir
My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir by Noelle Hancock

The premise of this book is a little bit crazy, but I appreciated it in the end. The author lost her job during the 2008 crash and is flailing over what to do. She decides to live a year with Eleanor Roosevelt for inspiration, facing her fears all the time.

She swims with sharks, does comedy stand-up, flies a plane, sky dives and a lot of other things.

I rather liked the concept of facing one fear each day. Interspersed with quotes and Eleanor Roosevelt’s history, it makes for an interesting and dynamic book.

The writing is easy and fun to read along to. (Must confess I skipped ahead on some pages – turns out that reading about certain aspects set my own fears fluttering.)

Review: Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch

Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch
Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch by Barbara A. Perry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually rather liked this. My first foray into reading about the Kennedy clan (as an adult) had to be about Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. I’ve had both the Jackie and Teddy biographies lying about for a while, but decided to start with the matriarch.

I realize that it is very different what we prefer in biographies, but for me, this was a good read. It did go into the details around things, though not to the nitty gritty on everything. Also, it didn’t spend ages looking at what the individual Kennedys were doing; the children and husband were almost only mentioned as they pertained to Rose and her reactions to their antics.

But apart from that, with this method of doing it, it also means that when I read the next Kennedy biography, I won’t have heard everything before.

At the same time, it was rather neutral, not painting anyone with an overly rosy picture – not even Rose.

I could have done without the emphasis on all her traveling, though, as at one point it just got to be enough to read about even if she did do all the traveling.

I feel I got a good read through of the book, and it whet my appetite for reading more about the rest of them.

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Review: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch

Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The ultimate biography on the Queen will probably not come until after her death. But if we combine the plethora of existing ones, a decent enough picture comes out of it.

This biography adds to that picture to a certain degree. It’s not perfect, but it is easy to read and does not go too deep into the political side of things. I also appreciated that certain areas where I have read much coverage before, childhood, Margaret’s romantic affairs, etc. was not covered too much in detail.

At the same time, the book goes into more details on the latter aspects of The Queen’s life up to the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

If you follow the British royal family with any sort of regularity, I think this can easily be skipped as there are few new and interesting things revealed. If you don’t, then it can be a useful and interesting read.

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Review: Yes, Chef

Marcus Samuelsson is someone I first heard about when he was a judge on Top Chef. At the time I was intrigued by a Swedish chef making it in the US to the degree that he joined the Top Chef “family.” (I realize that this is not a parameter of success in the cooking world, but apart from NOMA, which I know has delicious food from experience, I get my cooking fix from reality shows.)

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Book review: Wishful drinking

When it comes to Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking, I think how you approach the book matters. It’s sort-of a biography, sort-of comedy, sort-of… well, who knows, and it is the written version of one of her stand-up shows.

The latter explains why it jumps around a lot, which makes it kind of hard to keep track off things.

At the same time, I think it is also the strong point of the book (contradicting myself here…) because the voice of the person telling the story comes through so strongly.

Fisher tells the story of growing up in Hollywood, her problems with alcohol and other substances, and her life. (The follow-up Shockoholic is not nearly as good as this one, but it does tie up some loose ends, as well as her experiences with electroshock therapy.) It’s not a deep, long, heavy biography (it’s a mere 176 pages), but more snapshots from incidents. (And yes, Star Wars and her experiences there are mentioned.)

Wishful Drinking doesn’t provide any major new revelations, but has several punchy one-liners and inspirational comments, that to me made it worth the read.

Essentially, it’s a nice little read, that’ll probably have you chuckle a bit here and there.

Book review: Wait for me

While I was living in Denmark, I found the book about the Mitford sisters in a bookshop across the street from me that sold (or for all I know still sells) used books.

Some time in the previous year, I picked up the youngest Mitford sister’s biography, Wait For Me!: Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister by Deborah Cavendish/Devonshire, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, and I just got around to reading it over Christmas.

My to-be-read pile is growing at an alarming rate, by the way. I am incapable of saying no to books, apparently. And there seems to be a family rule of walking into bookshops rather than walking past them. (My mother is the only one not adhering to this. She claims something about getting books at the library. What’s that about?)

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Book review: Our Queen

With Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee in 2012, a lot of books and paraphernalia is sure to be released. Our Queen by Robert Hardman is first out of the gate, and there will likely be masses to follow.

What I found while reading, is that this is an incredibly touching book – funny at times, and sad at other times. And you learn quite a lot from it. (It is packed with trivia.)


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Book review: George VI

After having watched The King’s Speech at the cinema (like about a gazilion other people), I found myself intrigued by the story of George VI, and wanted to learn more. I picked up George VI by Sarah Bradford at Amazon, and forgot all about it, until I cleaned out my bookshelves.

I rather regret not reading it earlier, because this book is very well written and a joy to read. It is rather long (and did drag on a bit in the end) but the story just flows in a way that made me want to read on, and on, and on…

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My life with horses

Personally, I am less than accustomed with horses. I’ve been on a pony once, under duress, and aside from that my closest relationship with them has been through My Little Pony, or horses for my Barbies. That being said… I still found the biography about Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and her life with horses an interesting read.

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Freud m’a dit – Freud har sagt – a book review

In 2006, Steen Kristensen published a triple biography in Danish on Prince George of Greece and Denmark, Princess Marie Bonaparte and Sigmund Freud. The result was definitely worth a read.

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Frederik: Kronprins af Danmark

Frederik“Frederik: Kronprins af Danmark” is the newest biography about the Danish royals. Where the unofficial biography about Marie Cavallier came before the wedding – just in time for the Danes to get to know their new princess (and the publisher to make quick money on it, if we’re being cynical about it…) – this latest endeavour was published on the occasion of Crown Prince Frederik’s 40th birthday. It is written by Karin Palshøj og Gitte Redder, the same two journalists who wrote the biography of Crown Princess Mary.

The fact that this is an official biography is shown by the fact that not only is Crown Prince Frederik talking to the authors, his brother, his close friends, his head of security, his former colleagues, and so on, are also doing it – and they’re doing it by name. A few notables are missing – the Queen, the Prince Consort, some royal cousins… but that’s just nitpicking.

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