Before the Crown

One More Chapter: HarperCollins. May 2021. 400p. ISBN 9780008438418. pap. $16.99. F
Harding, who has published nonfiction and fiction under several pseudonyms, here writes a lighthearted account of the early days of the courtship of Queen Elizabeth II of England and Prince Philip of Greece; it might be just what the doctor ordered for 2021. Beginning in 1943, Harding describes how the two royals met. The characters are relatable: Elizabeth is portrayed as a shy, dutiful daughter, and Philip is the quintessential bad boy. Philip, a Greek national, wrestles with citizenship issues, while Elizabeth must convince her skeptical parents that her debonair beau can be molded into a respectable consort. Elizabeth fights hard for the relationship—enduring separations, delays, even the vacillating emotions of her fiancé. Harding’s writing style is unembellished and easy to read. The chapters alternate between Elizabeth’s and Philip’s points of view, offering readers a dual insight. Although the dialogue can occasionally seem a little stilted, it could be that Harding intended to uphold the formality of the historical setting.
VERDICT Lovers of historical fiction and romance, fans of The Crown, and readers seeking an undemanding introduction to the intricacies of the British monarchy will enjoy this timely novel. Harding has clearly done her research; while hers is a story mired in supposition, there are some factual touches included.
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