On VE Night, 1945, it is a historical fact that the then teenage Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, were allowed to leave the Palace incognito and join the parties with their subjects – pretending to be ordinary people for the first and only time in their lives. Peter Bradshaw has taken this nugget of history gold and brilliantly written a comedy crime thriller about the Princesses’ big adventure. Priceless moments include Princess Margaret causing mayhem by stealing a policeman’s hat, the foray into a Hyde Park conga line and Elizabeth’s accidental encounter with London’s criminal underworld. The future Queen must use all her wit and courage to get out of a very messy situation, and emerge victorious on her own personal Night of Triumph. With a sharp, dark sense of humour and affectionate approach to our Monarch’s younger days, this is a wonderful, enjoyable, dark crime caper for a wide audience that is sure to attract attention.
I have to admit I had no intention of reading Peter Bradshaw’s Night of Triumph. Although a work of fiction that includes a hint of history surrounding VE Day – for which I do have an interest – it didn’t really appeal to me. The idea of reading a book following two young women on a night on the town in 1940’s London, well I didn’t think it was for me!
How wrong could I be!
The book itself is small, 144 pages small, and it has a charm all of its own that only small books possess. I picked it up, turned over the first couple of pages and settled down to read Elizabeth and Margaret’s adventure from the Palace to The Ritz and a few other less reputable establishments in-between. The book flowed effortlessly, the narrative sumptuously addictive, compelling me to keep reading only pausing to refill my cooling mug of tea every once in a while. Truth be told once I’d read the first chapter I couldn’t and didn’t want to put the book down.
From one scene to the next, from one character to another, the book is an intriguing concoction of a well-crafted story and a spellbinding narrative. Bradshaw doesn’t over complicate things, he simply tells an endearing story of two young ladies desperate for one night away from the confines of Buckingham Palace. But the book is so much more than that.
Humorous at times, thanks to some well thought out and presented dialogue Night of Triumph will entertain from beginning to end, you simply can’t help smile when reading this book. I particularly loved the way Bradshaw introduces a cheeky dig at the Windsor family tree during a discussion between the two chaperones whose only role in the book is to keep the Princesses safe.
We may well be going to the club. But during tonight’s festivities, we shall be showing these two young women the capital.
Are they foreigners?
They have some German ancestry, but no, they are as British as you and me. They have, as it were, been through London but never actually in the streets. That’s where you and I come in.
For a little balance Bradshaw introduces darkness via a colourful character in Mr Ware- truth be told he’s a despicable character – a man hell-bent on making his financial killing on a night when guards are down, no matter the cost. I enjoyed how Bradshaw tied things up at the end but if I’m being hyper critical I would have liked a slightly different and extended ending – but for fear of giving away any spoilers I won’t mention that here!
Utterly charming, intensely satisfying, Night of Triumph is a wonderful read and comes highly recommended.
Night of Triumph is available to buy in Hardcover.
- Hardcover: 144 pages
- Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (31 Jan 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0715645013
- ISBN-13: 978-0715645017