Those memories take the reader through noble and royal households at the turn of the century and during the first World War. It talks of life among the privileged within Swedish society, the development of a good-hearted but shy girl into a kind and caring young woman, and later into a loving wife, mother and Queen. The book concludes, of course, with the tragic accident that robbed Belgium of its most precious crown jewel. Touching, emotional, and yet with almost ruthless honesty, Anna Sparre talks of the last letter she received of her friend, two days after the news of her death was made public, her reaction of disbelief to the news, her sorrow, the memories of the funeral and the conversations with a grief-stricken Leopold.
Many biographies have been written about Astrid, Queen of the Belgians, but this book is more than a biography. Although such personal accounts often run the risk of turning into a hagiography, this book does not have any such tendency. Sometimes a bit critical and even derisive, it portrays a beautiful friendship between two women who are each other’s opposites. It gives a unique insight in what Queen Astrid was like, and how people from her immediate environment reacted to the news of her untimely death. [Read full review]