After many painstaking years, hard work and dedication, Michelle Morgan’s latest masterpiece on Marilyn Monroe does not disappoint.
When Marilyn Met The Queen is everything My Week With Marilyn should have been but instead of fluff and fiction, we are given facts about Marilyn’s life in England in 1956 whilst filming The Sleeping Prince (aka The Prince and the Showgirl).
Personally, this is the first time I have experienced an account of Marilyn’s life (albeit only four months of it) in such a detailed, well-researched way. A beautifully written timeline of Marilyn’s stay in England is recorded superbly, disallowing any possibility of mysterious week-long affairs. Ahem.
Hearing about Marilyn’s days on (and off) set, at Parkside as well as in and around London made me feel closer to her. I learnt so many new interesting facts and anecdotes that in all honesty I never wanted the book to end. Normally a slow reader anyway, I felt like I would probably finish the book in a day. But I took the time I needed to absorb these events. I wanted to envision every moment.
I am glad she was adored by the British although I do wish that people had remained the stereotype that kept themselves to themselves a bit more. That way Marilyn would’ve been able to explore the UK a bit more, creating some happy memories before returning to New York.
It is very common for books to make you feel like you’re reading cold hard facts about someone’s life, forgetting that the subject once lived a complicated and meaningful life. That their life is not just some timeline. There are even books that create an over-the-top melodrama full of conspiracy and falsehoods hardly letting you believe the people were ever real.
But not When Marilyn Met the Queen.
I felt a real human connection to Marilyn in this book. As if she wasn’t just a Hollywood icon anymore, but a living, breathing person and I am understanding her as a human being as well as an actress and celebrity. Of course, I do anyway. I don’t see her as anything more or less than a human being. But WMMTQ helps portray this.
This biography, although a detailed timeline of events, had moments where I was taken back to my days working in London, just 1 mile from The Savoy. I used to walk past the hotel and look at the windows and attempt to work out where Marilyn had waved to fans, picturing what it must have been like to see her, glowing and greeting her adoring British public. Or when I would go into Foyles and think about how much Marilyn loved the bookstore. A small thing but these accounts took me back to my happy Marilyn moments, and that warms my heart a great deal. Now, I have even more I can connect with, even if it’s just going through Egham, seeing Windsor or even a picture of the Queen. There’s nothing I love more than finding connections to Marilyn in the simplest things. And because of this book, I don’t have to fly to LA or New York for those moments.
Despite either sitting on my sofa with a coffee with the hard copy of the book or listening to the audiobook whilst doing my chores, I was fully absorbed in an almost day to day account of what life was like for both Marilyn and those who encountered her whist she resided in the UK. I was there, watching. Sometimes I felt like there was a pane of glass between myself and Marilyn, where I was bashing on it, trying to break through so I could give her both a bit of a slap and a hug at the same time.
In addition, what did strike me most, other than the wonderful details and quotes from Marilyn and those who experienced Marilyn Mania in ’56, was how hard things were for all parties.
Of course, I pity Olivier and what he, the cast and crew endured with Marilyn’s tardiness, absences, constant retakes etc. but my heart truly goes out to Marilyn.
Not only is she constantly bombarded by fans and the press, but the poor woman seemed to never get a moment alone. Of course, this wasn’t just in 1956. Since she rose to fame she had and still is one of the most recognisable faces in the world. However, this book genuinely made me feel uncomfortable for the way journalists, the public, and how even her entourage treated her. If she wasn’t being pulled left, right and centre by fans, photographers and reporters (both figuratively and literally), she was having her sentences finished for her by those closest to her, being told what to do and not to do.
To me, it’s no wonder Marilyn was late for everything. She probably just wanted some peace and quiet for a couple of hours. Oh, how I wish she had just told everyone where to go so she could deal with things herself… Nonetheless, I feel readers of this wonderful biography will not be disappointed by the quality of writing and attention to detail that Michelle delivers with every piece of work she publishes.
Although I am yet to read Marilyn In New York, which intends to discuss Marilyn’s life in 1955, I can only hope it lives up to the same expectations that WMMTQ delivered because I need every year of Marilyn’s life to be written in such a way.
I applaud Michelle, as she doesn’t have time for bias but only for facts and real-life accounts of what occurred from July to November 1956. This is a quality of her writing that made me email her back in 2012, telling her how much I enjoyed Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. A decade on and we are still good friends. Thank you Marilyn for introducing me to so many talented and wonderful people.
You can purchase When Marilyn Met The Queen by Michelle Morgan here.