Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Review - Daughter of Empire, Pamela Hicks

Daughter of Empire: My Life as a Mountbatten


Pamela Hicks

Category: Nonfiction: Memoir: England

Synopsis: Hicks recalls her early life as a daughter of a prominent English family.

Date finished: (approx.) 23 December 2013

Rating: ****

I put this one on my “to read” list after finishing Elizabeth the Queen. Pamela Hicks showed up in that book as she must have given interviews to its author. She is the cousin of not only the queen but also of the consort Prince Philip. (Yes, the queen and her husband are cousins!)

The famous photograph taken by the press of Philip helping Princess Elizabeth with her coat was taken at Hick’s sister’s wedding. The photo ignited a maelstrom of speculation about the Princess and Philip. The press decided they were an item.
This was a fascinating book in that it really showed the role of England around the globe. Hicks was the daughter of Dickie Mountbatten, who, as I understand it, was instrumental in winning WW2. He was a naval officer and Supreme Allied Commander during the war. After the war, he became viceroy of India, sent to oversee the transfer of power from English governing to an independent Indian government. This move upset Winston Churchill who thought Mountbatten was giving away “the jewel in her crown.”

Basically, this book is about Hick’s first twenty-odd years of life shuffling along behind her parents as they fulfilled various missions and filled various posts for the crown. Her parents’ numerous lovers were integrated into the family. Her mother had an affair with Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, though Hicks speculates that it may not have been sexual. (Is anyone else a little shocked and ished-out at this?)

I enjoyed the bits about Hicks’ pet mongoose who “didn’t seem to mind which continent he made mischief in, and spent his days turning [her] bedroom into a mongoose stronghold” (page 164).

I enjoyed this short book full of history. I’m not entirely sure who its audience was supposed to be or what niche it fills overall, which makes me feel fortunate that I found it.  

Would you recommend this to a friend?
Yes, though one might need a certain level of interested in this sort of thing to enjoy it.

You might also enjoy:
Elizabeth the Queen

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