This month our Wellbeing Reading Group virtual meeting coincided with World Book Day. Unlike many children dressed up for the day in their favourite fictional characters there were no headscarves, crowns or tiaras on show during our discussion of The Windsor Knot by S J Bennett, a traditional murder mystery with a royal difference with Her Majesty as super sleuth.
This light-hearted romp perfect for what’s been a gloomy February has proven to be one of our most popular reads, with 18 copies borrowed across GEH and SWFT.
Most gave the book a thumbs up and with two of us being lucky to read it somewhere sunny and warm it was decided it was more holiday than Booker Prize reading. Set in Windsor Castle, home and office for the Queen and family, it was a country house murder mystery with international intrigue. A couple of us struggled with the reveal which could have been drafted with more clarity. Some found the story contrived in places with a Le Carré fan describing the actions of the Governor of Windsor Castle and his security team as amateurs. One of us also questioned if the career path of Rozie, the Queen’s Assistant Secretary/Assistant sleuth would lead to a similar appointment.
Most of us were happy however to simply trot along and chuckle at the wittiness of the book, especially the Queen’s opinions of her housekeeping staff, drawing comparisons with Downton Abbey. The conversations between Prince Philip and the Queen were both entertaining and poignant with the novel being published before the death of Prince Philip.
We found the Queen to be a believable central character. We know from her public persona that Her Majesty is known for hard work and a sharp mind and liked how her character portrayed older adults in a positive way. The novel also prompted one of the group to think differently about the Queen and her role.
We also appreciated how well the book had been researched, prompting us to recall past Jubilees and other royal events.
So a book which split us a little. Some enjoyed it as a quick read but wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to friends, others are eagerly anticipating the next two novels.
We move north to Edinburgh next with the novel Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan. Described by The Guardian as a “multistorey horror story”, copies are available to collect from your GEH or SWFT Library if you dare!
P.S. We can always post copies to you if you are working off site or in the Community.