Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Prince William by Penny Junor: review
The Duke of Cambridge receives a glowing report in this new biography.
'My mummy brushed my hair': William and Diana in 1987Photo: Rex Features
The best subjects for biography tend to be mad, miserable, outspoken, or, at the very least, profoundly complicated. A random glance at the bookshelf reveals DH Lawrence, with his misanthropy and nymphomaniac wife; President Nixon, with his Watergate scandal and anti-Semitism; Simon Cowell, with his scheme to freeze his own corpse so that scientists of the future can bring him back to life.
The Duke of Cambridge isn’t like that. To judge from this biography, our future king is everything we already imagine him to be: mature, sensible, calm and serious. This is excellent news for admirers of the monarchy, not such good news for publishers hoping to make money out of him.
Penny Junor professes herself an admirer of the Duke and she has not set out to fire off some tabloid-friendly shocker. Certainly there are no shocks here, and precious few surprises. Whenever this young man – he still hasn’t reached 30 – encounters difficulty, pressure, loss, he faces it with grace and fortitude.
His childhood was tough. We knew that, of course, but we may not have known some of the details. When, aged just three, he appeared in his school nativity play, his arrival on stage was greeted by the yells of press photographers, all ordering him to look their way. As his parents’ marriage fell apart, he tried helplessly to comfort them: when his mother locked herself in the bathroom in tears, 10-year-old William slid tissues under the door, saying, “I hate to see you sad”.
The only really funny moment from the childhood chapters comes when, aged four, he meets Bob Geldof. “Why do you have to talk to that man?” little William asks his father. “He’s all dirty.” “Shut up, you horrible boy,” says Geldof, and points out that William’s hair is scruffy. “No, it’s not,” retorts William. “My mummy brushed it.” Full story at The Telegraph.