Logue and Conrad begin the story with King George VI preparing for his coronation. The scene is dramatic and begins with a familiar character before introducing Logue’s grandfather, Lionel Logue, the king’s speech therapist. Having sucked the reader in, they turn back to the humble beginnings of Lionel Logue in Adelaide, Australia and his rise to regional fame as an elocutionist.
Having seen the movie, the trajectory of Logue’s relationship with the king (first the duke) was not surprising. What was most interesting was the depth of that relationship, which a film does not have time to fully explore. I was touched by the king’s work ethic. He did not stop his therapy when the first results became evident. He kept at it throughout his life to continue improving.
The film seemed to suggest that part of the king’s stutter came from his being bullied as a boy by his dad, but the book portrays George VI as very close to his father and emphasizes that Logue diagnosed the king’s problem as physical, not psychological. The film also suggests that David was encouraged to abdicate, but the book depicts him as telling his brother of his decision to abdicate only once it was made–even avoiding his calls.
Logue’s outreach to the king in the years when the king was very busy and was no longer attending regular sessions are almost heartbreaking and I could not help but be glad when the king turned to him again after the abdication. I also enjoyed the relationship between the king and the people, who seemed to want him to succeed and who cheered on his successes after the horrid Wemberly speech. I loved when a well-meaning subject wrote to Logue with a suggestion to improve the king’s locution. The whole country seemed to have been involved in his treatment in some way.
My favorite story was when the king stumbled over a word in a speech disbanding the Home Guard after WWII. When Logue asked him about it, he said he did it on purpose because if he spoke perfectly, people would not know it was him.
After Logue’s death people wrote to the paper to add to his obituary. I would have loved to read more of these letters and the letters sent to Logue by his other clients (a few of which the authors shared). I would also love to see Logue’s scrapbook. It sounds as though he was a careful collector.
The King’s Speech was a quick read and rounded out the image of the two men created by the film. I am thankful to both for bringing this great story to the attention of so many.