Thursday, March 24, 2016

Royal Review: Pocket Giants - Queen Elizabeth II by Victoria Arbiter

Picture it. You find yourself on in a life or death situation where you have no access to Wikipedia and need to know everything there is to know about Queen Elizabeth II to ensure your survival. (Yes, it could happen).

Sure you could wade through the latest tabloid or the dozens of biographies of Queen Elizabeth II, some with varying degrees of factual accuracy, but that would be a waste of precious time. No. You need a solution. Stat!

Enter Queen Elizabeth II (pocket GIANTS) by noted royal commentator, Victoria Arbiter. Published by History Press, Pocket Giants is a series of 128-page short biographies of notable individuals including John Paul II, Henry V, Winston Churchill, John Lennon, Nelson Mandela, Henry Ford, Buddha and many more. It was only a matter of time before the well respected Queen Elizabeth II joined the ranks.

It is a challenge to condense the life of someone who has lived as long as the Queen has. While we may have glimpses of her officially, we will never truly know what makes her tick on a personal level. The Queen's life, from her birth to the present day has largely been distilled for the public by unofficial biographers. As the author herself writes: 'her likes, dislikes, opinions and political leanings can only be speculated upon'.

This biography is a condensed version of the Queen's life to date. If you follow her life in any detail, all of the significant moments are covered with no surprises or controversial revelations. My only criticism would be that the author spends too much time on the death of Diana. Diana's life deserves a Pocket Giant of its own - if it doesn't have one already. (Note to self: Pitch to History Press).

Queen Elizabeth II is a nice book to pass the time at airports and is chock full of information sure to impress your dinner guests. It may even save your life (but probably not).

© Marilyn Braun 2016

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Royal Review: In Defense of the Princess by Jerramy Fine

Jerramy Fine has an unerring knack for provoking skeptical questions. Such as..

Did she really go to London to find her prince?

Can holding your fork the wrong way ruin your chances of finding happily ever after in London?

Is it possible to settle for just ONE eligible royal?

With her fourth book, In Defense of the Princess: How Plastic Tiaras and Fairytale Dreams Can Inspire Smart, Strong Women
she has done it again. Now the question is: Can fairy-tale dreams empower women? On the surface, it is easy to dismiss the question. According to the author, the princess dream is innate, since the beginning of time and should be celebrated. To do otherwise is to deny an crucial element deep down inside of yourself. Every woman, royal or not, can be a princess. Interwoven with examples of real and animated princesses it is easy to buy into it.

I liked Jerramy's previous books and I think she has a compelling and entertaining writing style. In Defense of the Princess, she tenaciously takes on the 'anti-princess brigade' with gusto. She makes detailed arguments for common criticisms associated with the princess phenomenon. Starting with the most prevalent criticism of all: Disney Princesses.

For some parents, the Disney princess is something to protect your child from. According to the author, if you peel back the marketing and downplay the negative aspects of their stories (Giving up your voice. Allowing yourself to be held captive. Running away from your problems and becoming a recluse) you will find progressive, resourceful women. As long as you focus on the positive elements your child could choose far worse role models. It is all in how you choose to look at it.

The message is spun relentlessly positive. Plastic tiaras are not just toys, they represent divinity, believing in fairy-tales is about embracing your truest self, acknowledging your inner princess is about aiming high and never settling for less than you deserve, princess-critics are people who have repressed their deepest fairytale desires. While the author makes compelling arguments, elements of them border on reaching.

If you are looking for permission to embrace your inner princess (along with arguments to defend yourself), you will definitely find it in this book. For naysayers, the verdict will still be out.

© Marilyn Braun 2016

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Well played William and Catherine, well played

Dear William and Catherine,

I must say I am flattered. You have taken a page from my previous post offering you advice on how to quell criticism and released photos of your family. William, you provided an aside about Charlotte (step 3) and now you have released adorable photos of the four of you on a skiing trip.

Goodness! at this rate you will spoil us.

There will be critics of this approach. Sure, sure it shows you on a skiing trip at a luxury resort most can only dream about going to. Some would even accuse you of neglecting your duties, work schedule and question whether you really want to be...OH LOOK BABIES!!

Bringing the kids along was a smart move. It is also a wise move that you chose to go to a cold luxury locale. You wouldn't want to make the commoners jealous seeing you in a luxury tropical locale, now would we? May I suggest for your next PR photo that you feature some kittens, stray dogs, an endangered animal?  Even an elderly person will do. Always good to cover ALL bases.

You did show a lot of nerve releasing these photos after you returned from your jaunt. How dare you want to vacation in private? Sheesh, William don't you know that everything you do is of public interest? Going forward, please provide all of us with a detailed itinerary of your meal times, bathroom breaks and what you are wearing.

Back to the photos. In the absence of anything else to do, this BEGS to be overanalyzed. In no particular order.

Playing in the snow

There are two other photos in this series. One looks like you are dancing in the snow. (Hey, some like it cold. Who am I to judge?) The other one, you are standing together looking away from the camera. Possibly at your kids playing with the nanny? You did bring the nanny with you, didn't you?

It is this one that caught my eye because both of you look so happy and relaxed and has the potential for controversy. Catherine is wearing the same skiing outfit from previous ski trips (You know, the one where you missed the 10th anniversary of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret's Memorial Service in 2012? Oh never mind). Anyways, you look like you enjoy each others company, at least during photo opportunities. However, Catherine is throwing snow at you. We could look upon this as a playful moment between the two of you. OR is Kate blinding you from the cost of her clothes bill? Safety experts could weigh in on the dangers of throwing snow. Oh the potential tabloid headlines!

William holding Charlotte

I have read some kvetching that you have never been photographed holding Charlotte. Not true, you held her in her car seat when you left the hospital with her. Isn't Charlotte just so adorable? Just like you once were! Adorbs! I smell a potential story about Charlotte's dental development too. Perfect for those slow news days.

The family of four

We've seen all four of you in Summer, Autumn and Winter. Now we just need a Spring photo.  All of you are looking at in the same direction. William, you must stop teaching George to look suspiciously at the cameras. Plenty of miserable looking people in your family already.

The family of four (again)

Seriously William? This pose is SO last Autumn!

© Marilyn Braun 2016

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.