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#337 ~ The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi

Published by: Sterling Publishing

Published on: November 2010

Page Count: 256

Genre: Non-Fiction

My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com outside of my monthly credits

Audiobook Published by: Tantor Audio

Narrator: Simon Vance

Audiobook Length: 7 hours

Available Formats: paperback, eBook, audiobook


Background

It has been a very long time since I’ve consistently gone to a movie theater to see movies that I think I would enjoy. It’s been long enough that I pay very little attention to the current movies. It’s not until the Oscars are mentioned that I catch even a glimpse of what had been out there over the previous year. The truth of the matter is that anymore these days I’m more likely to see a movie dealing with a princess than one featuring a king. The King’s Speech bucked that trend. I suppose because I have loved all things British monarchy for the past four or five years, when this movie came out, I paid attention. Still, I didn’t make it to the theater before it left. Then the Oscar nominations were announced and Tantor Audio announced that Simon Vance would be narrating the book Mark Logue wrote about his father Lionel and his work with King George VI. At that point I knew that I had to both watch the movie and listen to the audiobook.

Luckily Oscar nominees are brought back to theaters, so I planned to go see The King’s Speech on a work holiday. This is usually a day to myself and I was excited to be seeing the movie without having to worry about my kids. As luck would have it, I stayed home with an adorable but sick little girl. I considered starting the audiobook instead, because I was equally interested in both. First, I asked those in the know if the order mattered. I was cautioned to watch the movie first. As is usually true of movies, dramatic license was taken and those licenses are much easier enjoyed when you don’t know that they are being employed. I’m glad I followed that advice. By seeing the movie first, my interest in all things Lionel Logue and King George VI was high and I was eager to learn the whole story.


My Review

Prior to Charles and Diana, one might have easily assumed that a royal life was a happy and stress-free life. That was most definitely not the case with Prince Albert, son of King George V. The young man who was to become King George VI had a terrible speech impediment that brought him ridicule as a child and caused him much distress into adulthood. Prince Albert, being the second son of King George V, was never intended to ascend to the throne. Still, as a member of the royal family, he was expected to make public appearances and speeches. With new technology making it possible to capture the spoken word and transmit it via radio across the British empire fast becoming popular, Prince Albert’s stuttering became increasingly difficult to work around. For years the royal family tried every possible thing that might bring a cure for Prince Albert’s stuttering without success.

1943 George VI half penny I picked up at an antique shop. It caught my eye.

It wasn’t until Lionel Logue entered the picture that Prince Albert found hope of progress, let alone a cure. Logue, an Australian man with a love of theater, happened upon speech therapy. He was not a medical doctor. He trained under another man who had some success working with people who had speech impediments. The training took a more behavioral approach to addressing speech impediments. At that time, doctors believed that there was a mechanical problem causing the problems. Logue soon found success with his own using this approach and his reputation in Australia grew. Eventually, he and his family emigrated to England, where he began seeing patients in his own practice. It was his reputation that caught royal notice. After so many failures in the past, it would be natural for Prince Albert to have begun working with Lionel Logue with some reluctance. In the end this meeting turned into a life-long association, one that impacted both men a great deal.

Simon Vance did a masterful job narrating The King’s Speech. Just as in the fiction, he brought the right tone and pacing to this book. I’m not a huge consumer of non-fiction. Just as with Columbine and Zeitoun, this is an example of how non-fiction can read much like fiction. It can keep you listening and wanting to know more. No matter what the genre, combining a book with just the right narrator can make for some of the best reading experiences you’ll ever have.

A 1937 George VI shilling I picked up at an antique shop. Couldn't resist.

From the moment began with the actual recording of the speech made by King George VI, I was keenly interested in The King’s Speech. Presented are two men from very different backgrounds, continents and life experiences. Although the monarchy was no longer a governing body, the British people needed a strong monarch to guide them through the violence, fear and chaos of World War II. Had it not been for an enterprising man from their own ranks, that might never have happened. When Lionel Logue served his King, he served his country that much more. As much as I loved watching Colin Firth blustering about Logue’s office cussing a blue streak (and you know I did very much), the truer portrait of both Logue and George VI was so much more interesting.

I give The King’s Speech my Seal of Approval. No other book has made me notice let alone buy old coins from an antique shop (it didn’t hurt that they weren’t expensive). My eyes were drawn to George VI.


Afterwards

One section of The King’s Speech that especially interested me was the section about D-Day. Bedford, VA, a city not far from where I live, lost the most men per capita of any other city in the country on D-Day. As a result, the National D-Day Memorial was built there. I see it every Sunday as I drive to church. When it was first opened, I took my parents there and we had the good fortune to meet and talk to a few of the “Bedford Boys” ourselves. It was clear how much this memorial meant to them.

I had originally wanted to post this review on D-Day, June 6th, but life got in the way. Even though today isn’t an anniversary, I thought I would share a few pictures from the Memorial. If you ever get a chance to make it out my way, you should be sure to see it.


This is what I see up on the hill as I drive to church every week. I don’t see the detail from the road, of course, but it’s an impressive site nonetheless.

This is one of the first sculptures you see. This is the first man to climb the wall. Behind and below this soldier are others fighting their way up.

This sculpture shows two soldiers who have made it out of the water and up on to the beach. This whole section is incredible in that they have simulated bombs exploding in the water as well as gunshots. This is something you will never forget.

12 Comments

  • At 2011.06.21 07:47, Marg said:

    I thought that this movie was amazing, but hadn’t given a lot of thought to reading the book.

    Thanks for sharing the photos as well.

    • At 2011.06.21 12:27, Jennifer said:

      Marg, I think you’d love the book. I would strongly suggest the audiobook, of course. 🙂

      • At 2011.06.21 08:06, Anna said:

        I had no idea this was a book. I’ll definitely keep it in mind because I absolutely loved the movie.

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        • At 2011.06.21 12:28, Jennifer said:

          Anna, oh definitely keep your eyes open (or ears, rather) for this book. Short but interesting read.

          • At 2011.06.21 12:04, Xe Sands said:

            Excellent review – one that makes me consider reading the book, even though I am a staunch “fictioner.” Thanks!

            • At 2011.06.21 12:29, Jennifer said:

              Xe, I am almost always a “fictioner” myself, but there have been some wonderful non-fiction audiobooks that have really opened my eyes.

              • At 2011.06.21 15:35, Beth Hoffman said:

                Well … I will echo what Anna said! I had no idea this was a book. I adored the film.

                • At 2011.06.21 15:49, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

                  I bet that book is good. It’s my understanding that the stutter was caused by abuse at the hands of a sadistic nanny.

                  We’ve passed the sign for that memorial when we’ve gone to Carl’s parents, and I always wondered what it was about. We’ll have to stop sometime.

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                  • At 2011.06.21 17:14, Jennifer said:

                    Kathy, that is what this book surmised as well. His stuttering grew out of that and since it wasn’t a physical defect that it could be cured by changing behavior. The one thing they don’t know for certain is exactly what Logue did in his therapy. It would be very interesting to know.

                    • At 2011.06.21 21:59, Michelle said:

                      Jennifer, I think you just sold me on this audiobook! I never paid any attention to who wrote the original book and just considered it to be historical fiction, albeit excellent historical fiction. I am definitely adding this to my audiobook wish list now. Thanks for sharing those fabulous pictures as well. The memorial looks amazing and gut-wrenching, as it should be.

                      • […] two Audie Awards this year for The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens and The King’s Speech by Mark Logue and and Peter Conradi. In honor of Audiobook Week and this momentous occassion, […]

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