The Telegraph gives Markle’s debut children’s book one out of five stars
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The Telegraph was the latest outlet to savage Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle’s new children’s book “The Bench,” with brutal commentary about the “semi-literate” offering from the Hollywood actress-turned British royal.
Markle dedicated “The Bench” to her husband Prince Harry and their son Archie, explaining that it was inspired by a poem she wrote for Harry’s first Father’s Day in 2018. But a number of critics have panned the book for its non-traditional messaging, questionable grammar and tone deaf rhythm.
The Telegraph’s Claire Allfree held nothing back in her one-star review, questioning the premise of Markle’s book. On one of the pages, a red-haired father meant to depict Prince Harry is seen playing with their son while Markle watches from inside their house. The image is accompanied by the words, “Looking out at My Love and our beautiful boy. And here in the window I’ll have tears of great joy.”
“Poor Harry’s role in this marriage is to sit on his bench holding the baby while Meghan gets on and conquers the world, one act of compassion at a time,” Allfree wrote.
Markle had previously addressed the book’s seemingly progressive messages, telling NPR that “The Bench” disrupts traditional depictions of masculinity and diversity, in part by having illustrator Christian Robinson create images showing the softer side of fathers.
“I wanted him to just try something a little bit new and work in watercolor,” Markle said. “And that was specifically because I just felt that when you talk about masculinity and you talk about fatherhood, it can often not come across with the same softness that I was really after for this book. And I just wanted this to feel almost ethereal and light and Christian was able to use that medium and create the most beautiful images.”
Readers will likely note those non-traditional images, including one of a father donning a pink tutu to “support” his son’s preferred fashion.
Allfree panned Markle’s writing skills as well.
“One wonders how any publisher could have thought to publish this grammar-defying set of badly rhyming cod homilies, let alone think any child anywhere would want to read it,” she wrote. “But that’s planet Sussex for you, where even the business of raising a family is all about the brand.”
The Telegraph wasn’t the only outlet to question which audience Markle was trying to target.
“It reads as if it has been penned as a self-help manual for needy parents rather than as a story to entertain small kids,” the Sunday Times arts editor Alex O’Connell wrote, criticizing Markle for including “a therapy couch” for adults at the center of the book.
“It lacks the crucial ingredients for a successful tale for this age group: a good story and basic rhythm,” she added.
Despite the bad reviews, “The Bench” made it onto the New York Times bestsellers list and the Amazon Top 40 list.
Cortney O’Brien is Editor, Flash at Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @obrienc2.