While this is not strictly a "Tudor" book, it spans the reigns of Elizabeth I through the current Queen Elizabeth II. The subject of the book focuses on the most intimate details of life "behind the scenes" at the British royal court, and how those roles, responsibilities, and experiences have changed through these 450+ years. We are introduced to many of the people who supported the monarch in various ways, and given close looks at what went on behind closed doors at court. For example, how frugal or extravagant was each monarch in their personal spending and the overall spending of their court? What restrictions were attempted to be put in place to control debt and excess spending? What were relationships between members of the royal household like, and how did they vary from reign to reign? How much money did Elizabeth I spend on her regular progresses around the country, and how did that compare to what James I spent on masques at court?
These questions (and many, many more) are answered in this book, and some of these topics are (as expected) more interesting than others - just as certain kings and queens were understandably more interesting than others. The format of this book was chronological from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, so each chapter effectively took on a new topic, as well as a new reign, to consider. This is different from other history books I've read - which often compare the same topics between various kings and queens in one chapter. Such a format is sometimes more effective, in my opinion, as it provides more context into how various topics were handled between different monarchs. In this case, each chapter introduces a new subject of focus, as well as monarch - so comparison is more difficult. However, this format minimizes confusion between reigns, which is also appreciated.
On a personal note, I have to say I tend not to care much for the Georges of England, so the chapters between the late Stuart dynasty and the beginnings of our modern Windsors were somewhat lackluster for me. This is to say nothing of the quality of the writing or research - just my general boredom of the House of Hanover. (I did, however, really enjoy the chapter on Queen Victoria). In addition, I'd always prefer to read about the older monarchs, so I would have loved if this book had extended back even further - passed Henry VIII and possibly even into the lives of the Plantagenet monarchs.
This is a great, intimate look into the private lives of the royals and their closest, most trusted employees. Tinniswood's writing is simple to follow and entertaining enough to make this more than just your average history book. It's an interesting and engaging read for any lover of British history. It's especially interesting to look at how vastly things have changed between the two monarchs that book-end this book - how the image of the monarch and the expectation for them to be "whatever the people want them to be" has changed so greatly. It's the whole point, I think, of the book: while the details have changed enormously over time, the institution of the English monarchy remains today as it always has - perhaps just as fascinating as ever.
In general, I love reading about domestic history, because it tells the stories of those "behind the scenes" details. I like learning about specific people, personalities, and habits of some of the most mysterious and fascinating figures in history. For those reasons, I very much enjoyed this book, and recommend it to any history lover. I guarantee anyone reading it will learn many a new thing about some of royal Britain's most interesting families.