I picked this up thinking it was the basis for the Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush movie, which I liked quite a bit. It’s not–it was actually written by a descendant of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), whose interest in his grandfather (deceased 12 years when Mark was born) was piqued by a phone call from the movie’s producers. He began digging through his family’s papers, even going so far as to pull a box of archive material down from a cousin’s attic. Here he found carbon copies of letters to the king from his grandfather, the king’s responses, and numerous journals and other material.
Mark Logue researched his grandfather and wrote a biography of him, mostly focusing on his relationship with King George VI of England. The basic story, if you don’t know it, is that George VI (a.k.a. Bertie) was suddenly thrust under a crown when his father died, and his older brother (who ruled for about a year) abdicated in order to marry a twice-divorced American woman named Wallis Simpson (scandal!). Bertie, who had suffered from a speech impediment for years, must learn how to speak with the confidence and self-assurance required in order to rule his country.
The movie, if I remember correctly, kind of led you to believe that speech therapist Lionel Logue appeared right before Bertie was crowned. In fact, Logue and Bertie had been working together for years, since Bertie was already a Duke and expected to present himself properly in public already. There was additional pressure, of course, when he was crowned king, but he and Logue had already made a great deal of progress by then.
It’s an interesting enough book, if not particularly fascinating. It’s definitely well-researched and a broad look on the Logue family. Logue’s focus is on breathing techniques, which are kind of a snore (not at all like the hilarious swearing in the movie–that’s not even mentioned) but the workings of the royal family always interest me. Mostly, I came away with the feeling that I really want to read more about Wallis Simpson…