Saturday, March 12, 2011

Numero 6 this year is The King's Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi. Let's just get this right out of the way shall we? I loved the movie. Loved it. It was well acted, well written, well done. It was touching and surprisingly funny and all around engaging. And now, upon reading this book, I also realize the movie used a fair bit of 'dramatic license'. Funny enough though, this knowledge does not affect my enjoyment of the movie. It is too well done of a movie for me to feel I've now been cheated or anything. The movie centers more on moving towards one, specific goal, and that is that King George VI (played so beautifully by Colin Firth) is able to deliver his first war-time address to his subjects free of his previously debilitating speech impediment. But according to the book... by the time this speech was delivered, the King wasn't as hampered by his speech problems as the movie would have you believe...

Anyway, the book, compiled from the journal entries and scrap clippings of Lionel Logue by his grandson Mark, is a fairly straightforward telling of Logue's life from his initial work as a speech therapist in Australia, to his family's move to England, to the meeting and treatment of his most famous patient who would also become a friend. The book lays out Bertie's treatments much like they are in the movie, breathing exercises, practice, removing of troublesome words from speeches, basically giving the King confidence in his ability to speak, therefore removing his tendency to stutter. The book does also show that there was an honest to goodness friendship between the two men of VASTLY different classes and it is nice to see. But by the time Bertie is crowned King George VI, Logue and Bertie had been working together for quite awhile already and his stutter was much more under control by this point. Yes, Logue still helped and attended the Coronation and whatnot, but by this time, Bertie was not attending regular sessions and whatnot.

The book is an interesting look at what happened through many of Logue's and even the King's own words. It is also a slightly deeper look at the crisis the monarchy faced with the abdication of Edward VIII. But the movie, through some phenomenal performances, manages to give everyone much more warmth and character, if not true historical acuracy.