cover image The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor

The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor

Penny Junor. Thomas Dunne Books, $25.95 (442pp) ISBN 978-0-312-35274-5

London journalist and longtime Windsor-watcher Junor (Home Truths, Charles: Victim or Villian?, Charles and Diana: Portrait of a Marriage, etc.) considers the British royal family's continuation into the 21st century in this sympathetic account, covering Diana's death to the present day. The explanation, Junor believes, lies both in the ""magic"" of the monarchy and in the family's organization into the titular businesslike entity, a phrase coined by Prince Philip. She asserts that the value of the monarchy-during this era without hierarchy, deference and respect-is to act as ""a fixture in this morass"" of modern life. Junor has met nearly all the royals, as well as many of their associates, and her observations plus long excerpts from interviews give the book an insider feel. This is a favorable, respectful portrait: Junor tempers any criticisms with admiring descriptions of the royals' good deeds, especially their charity work. And despite the book's subtitle, she doesn't dwell on the royal scandals, focusing instead on the details of her subjects' lives and personalities. This approach generates some extraneous chapters, such as the passage exploring the minutia of the Queen's private interests (e.g. horses). However, this book's depth and gentle commentary on a subject usually dominated by tabloid exposes should gratify those with an affectionate interest in Britain's monarchy. Color photos.