Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Non-Fiction Review: The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume I, by Robert Lacey

This is a gorgeous production of a book, and a must-have for fans of the lavish and delicious Netflix show, The Crown.  The title is a little strange, since it doesn't stipulate what it is a companion to: the life of Queen Elizabeth II?  The show itself?  The answer is, both.  It's an odd book because of that, and I think the lack of clarity is very much intentional.  The publisher collapses and confuse the life of the actual woman with the storytelling on the show.  It's a bit disconcerting, and probably actively problematic for those who don't know much about the Queen outside of the show.  Lacey's text, however, is very clear about the difference.  But it's very odd to have a book that implies in the title to be about the Queen, the actual person, to begin with images of the fake queen and the fake Duke of Edinburgh, etc.  Stills from the show are randomly interspersed with actual photographs, and most disturbingly, the screen stills are in black and white!  And without captions.  Can there be any doubt that the publisher is intentionally trying to elide the difference between fact and fiction here?  It's a strange choice, and I don't see why it was necessary.  The text and the image seem to intentionally mix and confuse these elements, to the point where you're not immediately sure what's real and what's TV anymore.  The gorgeous cover perfectly illustrates what this book is going for.  It's informative, but, because it is both about the show and the woman, it is not really an adequate biography.  Luckily, there are plenty of those to go around, best, in my opinion, being Sally Bedell Smith's excellent biography, which seems to me to be an important source for the show.  This book is beautiful and a lot of fun, but it's very slight, and it's a weird combination of light biography, TV show companion, and coffee table book.  
(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)

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